Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 15 April 2013

GBBD: Blackthorn Winter


We've just emerged, blinking and rather wan, from the coldest March in over 50 years. Much of the garden is only just beginning to stir into life and after a day's warmth the blackthorn - which has remained tightly in bud throughout the cold spell - has rather ironically burst into bloom.

I say ironically, because a blackthorn winter usually refers to a late cold snap in late March or early April. Had it bloomed when it seemingly wanted to last month, then I'm sure we would have seen the phrase touted regularly around the weather reports. As it is, its blossoming now serves as a warning. We may at last have some longed-for warmth, but winter could just as easily return.

The blossom gives away its Prunus heritage (it's Prunus spinosa - an apt name): such starry flowers on bare branches. A simple flower, but beautiful nonetheless. Soon the petals will be strewn across my front garden like confetti. This year the blossom is prolific, which will be good for this effect and also bodes well for sloes in the autumn.

If I have my way these particular blooms won't get to form their sloes. Like many of its Prunus cousins, blackthorn suckers prolifically. The blossom you see is right at the front of our side garden and has wormed its way through from the public land next door. If I allow these to remain - and I should have steeled my heart a couple of years ago - their next stop is through the tarmac of our drive. Don't worry, plenty of blackthorn is close by as we have a rather fine hedgerow next to the house, so we will still get to forage for sloes later on this year.

Now the real gardening season begins. There's two months work to squeeze into one, which undoubtedly applies to the flowers too. I'm expecting some unexpected flowering combinations this year :)

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

24 comments:

  1. I was wondering whether late flowering blossom might actually be a good thing, if the weather doesn't spring any very late surprises. Much better than flowers in bloom and devastating frosts. And the bees - they'll enjoy it.

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    1. colleen - I'm thinking that too. A good period of cold means the fruit trees will have had what they need to produce a good head of blossom this year.

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  2. At this rate the blackthorn and hawthorn may bloom together. I haven't seen much blackthorn blossom yet!

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    1. You could be right - only a couple of weeks to go until the May is due to blossom here...

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  3. Very pretty!
    Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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  4. I'm happy you have 'some' blooms to look at following your cold March. We have had a late-entering Spring as well. The rays of sunshine are a welcome relief. Happy Spring!

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    1. Welcome Mario! I love your Hellebore pictures :)

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  5. Thanks for leaving a message over at my post. I think you had a much harder winter than we did, you certainly had more snow! Our blackthorn blossom is over now, but was lovely while it lasted. Most of the hedges round here are hawthorn and they are starting to green up so I think spring is on its way at last!

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    1. You're welcome Pauline. The hedgerow at the side of our house has lots of hawthorn too, so I'm waiting to see if Sue's comment comes true!

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  6. Blackthorn is beautiful, but not in the middle of your tarmac! I see to have been waiting to see what colour the various tulips are for months now, but at least there are now recognisable stalks and buds. So please, no sudden return to winter, gardening tasks are already too compressed!!

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    1. Yes, they're very compressed - must get out there now!

      Tulips are just about to burst into flower here :)

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  7. Whilst I agree it is a lovely blossom - I wouldn't want it in my drive either! Came out in time for Bloom Day, maybe it knew ;)

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    1. I was lucky to spot the sun shining through the blossom the evening before Blooms Day, so I knew straight away what my post would be about this month. I've been wanting to write about Blackthorn Winter for a couple of years now, and the timing seemed right :)

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  8. I must take a look in the fields behind the house. I can normally make out the white of the blossoms from a bedroom window. I often wonder if I could fit one in the garden, it would appear sensible not to bother.

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    1. The spines are quite viscious, so I think the blossoms best left to the view from your bedroom window.

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  9. Hi - determined to succeed with my veg plot so following you for tips. Pleased to report that the seeds I planted - rocket , mixed salad leaves, peas - have emerged so have put them on the windowsill as it says in the book. But they look a bit leggy compared to the plug plants I bought in B and Q. Does this matter? Have I done something wrong? And on your advice I've added my compost to my plot ready for the seedlings. Will put some pics on my blog later in the week.

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    1. Hi Eleanor - no, legginess doesn't matter and you haven't done anything wrong. You can repot them and bury them up to their necks again. Now the weather's improved and we have more light (lack of light has been a problem for us all), they should continue growing as expected. Your plug plants will have been mollycoddled in a greenhouse with additional lighting, hence their difference to your seedlings.

      Looking forward to seeing your pictures :)

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  10. The blackthorn is lovely, and I love the phrase "blackthorn winter". I shall be dropping that into conversation over the next few days I think. Blackthorn always feels very connected to the seasons to me; blossom in spring and sloes right as the season turns to autumn. Somehow it all feels very English, and I always get excited when I find some in the hedgerow. And I don't even drink gin!

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    1. The Woodland Trust have a project which collects data on key seasonal indicators and the dates in which they appear. It includes blackthorn blossom.

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  11. We have the same thing here...a slow spring and 2 months of work into one...I wait to see what will bloom this year.

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    1. It's getting closer to 3 months work into 1 for me now Donna!

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  12. We always have two months' work squeezed into one – and often a sudden summer. Sigh. Thanks for introducing me to a colourful new (to me) gardening term.

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    1. We're speculating on a 'sudden summer' this year too Helen. So far, spring seems to be here in person though...

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