Archive for the 'Seasons' Category



While there seems to be a ritual about groundhogs and their shadows predicting the length of winter in the USA, in my area they use horses and their riders as an oracle. If the sun shines long enough at noon for a rider to saddle his (or her) horse, there will be such an extreme frost that the Baltic Sea will freeze over between the coast and the Isle of Fehmarn. While latter hasn’t happened for ages, there seems to be some truth in the saying. As far as I know there is a 70 percent chance of a long winter if there is sunny weather at the beginning of February.

It definitely held true last year. While it was unusually mild until mid-February, so that everybody thought winter was over, we all were surprised by huge amounts of snow and frost until Easter. As we had almost exactly the same weather last weekend, there is a big chance of this happening again. Aside from this myth, my favourite oracle are the fieldfares, a kind of greyish thrush that I have only seen here in strong winters. Coming from the east, they move about in flocks of about thirty or more birds, making a great deal of noise, thus bullying our ordinary thrushes, and eating any berries they can find. (Their favourite are said to be juniper berries, thus making them one of the rare fowl who provide for their own seasoning.) As I have seen them flying about the area since December there is a huge chance that winter is still to come.



January blues continued

Though it has got a little colder, the weather is just as undecided as last week. There were some glimpses of the sun on Saturday, mind you. But it soon gave up, leaving everything to the clouds with the only difference, that the drizzle has been replaced by an icy easterly wind. So I still have to take out pictures of past years to remind myself, what a light, tranquil season winter can be.

Seeblick (2)

This is a view of the lake of Selent, just before freezing over. The part of it that is closest to our village is rather shallow, so it’s the first part of the lake to freeze over and thus a safe place for the kids to go ice skating. Sometimes the ice is so clear that you can see the fish swim below.

Wintermorgen Dez2010 (6)

This is the view from our back garden. On that morning the bright light combined with a little fog created a dreamlike, romantic atmosphere. You couldn’t really tell where exactly the earth ended and the sky started.


No winter yet

While the past two winters were very severe — huge amounts of snow, and frost until Easter — nothing of the kind has happened yet. Even though it is rather mild, the endlessly drizzling rain is getting on my nerves. There is no fun at all in going outside. As soon as you leave the paths, the ground under your shoes seems to suck you in making you afraid of getting stuck.

So just for cheering up, here are some impressions from the last winter (although to be honest, I don’t remember being happier then — hibernation would be the perfect activity for me in these months).

SchneemannDill (2)


Getting in the Mood

You can really tell that winter is over when the animals are stirring. The other day Don wrote about bees trying to get into unopened snowdrops. I myself am more in the habit of observing bird life, but only this morning I found out that their song isn’t the only thing to go by as a short talk with my neighbour showed:

“Yesterday I heard the thrush sing for the first time this year. Did you hear that, too?” — “Well, they weren’t only singing in my garden. They were doing other things, as well.”

So if the birds are getting in the mood, this is a sure sign that winter is truly over.


Signs of Spring

Unlike last year we had a bit of real winter in the past weeks: some heavy frosts and even enough snow for the children to build snowmen and take their sleighs out.
When I look into the garden I find everything about four weeks backward compared to last year. The snowdrops have just started, some crocusses are showing a little colour, but that’s it so far. — Oh I’ve forgotten about the witch hazel and the cyclamen, but the’ve been blooming since January, and the cyclamen actually since Christmas.
Even if there is not much colour in my garden yet, I’m strongly convinced that spring is coming. First of all the fieldfares, which only show up in winter, seem to have left for their nesting places further north or east. Only after devouring every single berry and rosehip that still remained in the garden. And yesterday I heard the first cranes, which have come back from the south. Most of them only rest here until they travel further up north, but until they do so they make a lot of noise.


The Plights of Gardening

Fortunately we have had some rain last week so there is some fun in doing gardening work again. I don’t know how you get on in dry areas such as Texas or California, but I found that this drought we had from May to mid-June started getting on my nerves. Seeing lots of plants wither away, looking on a burned lawn already in May, trying to keep alive the strawberries and vegetables (who have remained in a bonsai state nevertheless), trying to save weakened plants from massive aphid attacks — all this was not very enjoyable. Therefore I didn’t feel like writing at all because who would like to read about the feelings of a depressed garden enthusiast?

For the roses, however, the weather has been perfect. The warmth has made them blossom early and with their deep roots they were not as dependent on regular watering as those plants with more shallow ones.

So almost to the end of June there was a fireworks of roses in my garden now only subdued by the recent rain that has caused quite a few blossoms to wilt. However, fresh raindrops on rose blossoms, is there anything more elegant than this?

Also, the rapeseed bug, a tiny black beetle usually feeding on rape blossoms, and a pest that has become resistant to almost all insecticides is bothering us again. However, it is not as bad as last year and the year before when you couldn’t go out wearing anything coloured white or yellow unless you wanted to be covered with little black bugs right way.

So for some reason there are never perfect conditions for gardening. It is either too cold or too hot, too dry or too wet, there are fungi or bugs or deer trying to live off your favourite plants — and still they always manage to come back up again. There is always something growing, flowering, flourishing, which is quite a miracle when you think what obstacles they are facing all the time.


Front Yard Impressions

Lush, luxuriant, brilliant — words like these popped up in my head when I walked through my front garden last week. The irisses and lupines in full bloom, the whole area seemed to be overflowing with colour, which was enhanced by those bright pink sweet williams.

That old tree trunk comes from my parents’ garden and used to be part of a huge cedar tree. The ivy came with it, two, and it will probably have overgrown everything within the next two years. I often use this tree trunk as a bench — lying on the east side of the house it’s a great spot for an early cup of tea on a mild sunny morning.

Helianthemum and salvia grow in abundant bushels directly at the curb. Being so close to the tarmac this is one of the hottest and driest areas in the garden which only heat and drought resistant plants survive. This is particularly true for this year, as spring has been unusually dry with less than two inches of rain since mid-April. Ironically the rest of the republic has almost been drowned in the past weeks, heavy thunderstorms and rains causing flooding in the south and west of Germany. Only the areas close to the Baltic Sea didn’t get any rain. Often we could see the clouds building up but drifting away again before any water came out.

The white string you can see at the top of this picture is part of an electric fence that we use to keep the deer out. For some reason they don’t come in through the back garden but simply walk down the road and cause havoc among the flowers. So while the fence doesn’t look too decorative, this is much better than having a herd of deer trampling on everything, munching away the roses.

Since I had a rather stupid accident in the kitchen last Tuesday, cutting my leg severely on a broken glass lid, I forgot to water the garden. As a result, all the plants suffered severely. The lilies and lupines haven’t wilted, they have simply dried up. So what you see on those pictures above is already a thing of the past. Now I’m waiting for the hemerocallis, the roses and the peonies to do their bit, hopefully supported by some rain within the next week.