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Enjoying the Spring garden

After a cold January, the month of February has been really quite Spring-like, with really very few sub-zero overnights. In the last week or so, early daffodils have surged through the ground, and our first ones are now flowering at the bottom of The Slope garden. They're not the most exciting variety, it has to be said, but they are yellow and in flower, and the fact that they've 'arrived' and represent more heralds of the start of Spring is almost more important than any botanical benefit they bring to the garden! Round the front of the house, the first of the miniatures are about to bloom - little February Gold, for once actually flowering in the month it's supposed to! We shall have daffodils flowering in the garden now until the last of the pheasants eyes in mid May. They are such a great genus for contributing to the Scottish Spring garden.

In the Walled Garden, the noses of the naturalised tulips are emerging on the rear lawns - an experiment to see if last year's surplus bulbs planted in circles will flower as well again this year. Tulips take their time to come through - they like everyone to know they're there like prima donnas at an awards ceremony. Meanwhile the serried ranks of Crocus tomassinianus - nothing one day, flowering the next, have appeared under the old apple tree like a series of purple pencils, biding their time for sunny days to open their blooms and advertise their wares to early- flying insects. The winter aconites, meanwhile, flower on, some having been in bloom for around 6 weeks. Prolific seeders, they form large pools of butter yellow that illuminate whole areas of the garden, a treat for a dull day.

Over the wall, in the woods (and elsewhere too), the snowdrops are at their best. We have single and double (variety unknown), standing proud of last year's fallen leaves, displaying their pearl earrings for all to see as their forebears have done in the grounds for the last 200 years.

But it's not just bulbs that are greeting the first rays of our Spring sunshine. The flowering currant (Ribes) is pushing out its first leaves, pendulous red blooms to follow, and all over the garden, little polyanthus, in truly unfashionable shades, pop up in unexpected places, cheerful reminders of past Mothers' Days. In the shade border, early colour appears from Pulmonaria in mauves and blues, contrasting with the alluring unfurling dark-red shoots of hellebores, giving nothing away yet as regards flower-colour!

Spring is reaching into the garden, and it is responding!

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