The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Flowers from the garden: April 2009

Photo: Bluebells and Forget Me Nots

Photo: Bluebells and Forget Me Nots

When I moved into the cottage sixteen years ago I was greeted at the end of the first month by hundreds of bluebells. I was thrilled, as most are, by the smaller wild British varieties of bluebells that I remembered from woodland walks as a child. These are prettier than the large ones that grow into thug-like clumps and invade with big hefty boots. We have a few of those and have found that they are not very invasive.

I also discovered that there were small white and pink bells too. I didn’t know that these existed. The blue ones are clearly more hardy as they have naturalised all over the garden but the pink and white ones continue to delight me each Spring. They are scattered amongst the blue ones, just enough to draw the eye and provide a foil.

This has been a brilliant Spring in the UK. My day job has found me working outside most of the time and my hands are already tanned and my hair is bleached. I come home with skin feeling toned by lashings of vitamin D. This weekend I need to unearth my sunhat. I’m pretty careful about the sun. Factor 30 sits in Jalopy’s boot along with the brushes.

So April’s flowers are a few of our blue, white and pink bells. With a ruff of Forget Me Nots (Mystosis sylvestris) which are just coming to the end of their season and hopefully will self seed to dazzle us towards the end of the summer.

I love both these flowers, self seeded and looking totally relaxed as they lounge in our borders. Hopefully harbingers of a good summer. There’s nothing like blue skies and exquisite bells after a long cold winter.


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8 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jo

    I loved your comment. And the education that you gave to the Boots staff. Everyone loves to learn something new – I bet that they headed home with great goat udder tales.

    Come the revolution you could have saved a nations goat’s sunburnt udders!

    Hello Diane

    Yes I’m very lucky. Working outside is a joy when it’s not raining!. If it is there can be a problem paying the bills if I don’t have indoor bookings.

    When I first met Danny I got an office job. It paid for holidays and sickness and pension. Great. But since my mid twenties I’d always had my own business working with people who enjoyed working. After six months I was crawling up the walls. No one seemed committed to the company. Everyone was just all out for themselves – even the highest paid workers.

    I’d rather have no holidays, no paid sickness and even no pension to be able to wake up and want to go to work most days. I do realise that I‘m lucky. I’d love a great pension but would prefer to have a good quality of life.

    Hello Veronica

    Oh that’s a real shame. We’ve had wall to wall sunshine in East Anglia and the vitamin D has worked its magic for me!

    Hopefully you’ll get some great weather soon.

    Hello Scintilla

    Thanks for the tip.

    I will try bluebells under tulips next year.

    I’ve been given Lily of the Valley flowers this weekend. Gorgeous. I can’t get them to grow in my garden.

    Hello Ruthdigs

    Bluebells are wonderful, even the thugs. They always remind me of the magic of childhood. I remember walking through woods filled with them.

    Hello Kate(uk)

    I know that we need rain for the garden but hasn’t the sunshine been such a fillip? I feel so much more energetic. The blue skies have been a joy although it’s still very chilly here in East Anglia after dark.

    Hi Pamela

    Yes I love spring. In fact I do enjoy living in the UK with the different seasons (when they happen!).

    It’s such good news that you have some Primary teaching in the autumn. Also it’s great that you have booked some hols.

    We are going to France this year too. Just for a few days to the heart of duck country. I can’t wait.

  2. Spring, the season of new beginnings and fresh starts. I love it. The hedgerows in Cumbria were a blaze of colour as I drove along today on one of my rare trips out in the car. The clouds looked threatening for a while but then they were gone and if I wasn’t expecting my student for her Italian lesson shortly I would be out walking now under blue skies and fluffy white clouds. But new beginnings, I finally managed to get my foot into the door of teaching primary French although I won’t start until September. And Veronica, I’m still jealous that you live in France at all but I have just booked my flight for a week in the south of France at the end of the summer.

  3. kate (uk)

    Bluebell woods here in full swing- glorious. The deep blue just before they come fully out, combined with the intense green of tiny new beech leaves before they fully unfurl is just heavenly and we have some sunshine to enjoy it in.AND butterflies…

  4. Ruthdigs

    I love the vivid blue of the proper English bluebell and they smell heavenly too – a real sign that spring has sprung! 🙂

  5. Scintilla

    Forget-me-nots look beautiful under tulips.
    I have the wild ‘Lily of the Valley’ flowering on the embankment of our garden. Much daintier than the shop bought one.

  6. Veronica

    LOL, so funny, Jo! But all this talk of suncream, suntan, and sunhats makes me jealous. Here in the south of France we have had what must be the longest winter and the wettest, coldest April ever! Even when the sun comes out for a few hours it’s not warm 🙁

  7. I love bluebells. I only have a small clump in the garden so I never pick them for the house. I’m praying for a good summer this year. I’m so envious of you being able to work outside – I hate being cooped up in an office.

  8. Jo @ LittleFfarm Dairy

    We use Factor 30 sun cream too –

    but on the goats’ udders. When they’re out & the sun is bright they get a twice-daily udder massage along with their milkings: in the morning it’s sunscreen with insect repellent & in the evening it’s a good dose of Aftersun.

    The other week I had to top up our dwindling stocks & took advantage of Boots’ Two-for-One offer on bumper bottles. “Goodness, you must be going somewhere tropical!” The assistant remarked. “No, it’s for my goats’ udders….” I replied. The conversation degenerated into hilarity; especially when it transpired my hefty purchase had earned me a £2 discount voucher on makeup products. “Well, the goats do like a nice bit of lipstick” I commented innocently (you should see the goats’ faces after they’ve been scoffing the mineral licks – they sport varying colours from Rich Chocolate to Scarlet O’Hara).

    I crept out clutching my purchases as the shop assistants literally rolled in the aisles with tears of laughter. I suspect they won’t forget the mad Lovespoon Lady’s visit for a while….

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