I heard my first woodpecker of the year in the forest opposite the garden this afternoon. A little later came the more disturbing sounds of hunters thrashing about in the undergrowth. I find them unnerving (even when they don't lose their hounds and leave them to rush about for hours on their own, baying in a distressing kind of way). A week ago there came terrible screams when they were 'doing their weekend thing'. A short while later a small baby wild boar rushed into the bottom of our garden and charged about in desperation before finally making its way along the river bank. I suspect that the screams were the sound of its mother meeting her end in the woods. Hopefully the baby survived, albeit to live a rather solitary existence.
Also looking jolly, a seedling Fraxinus angustifolia subsp. oxycarpa. I had this seed in 2012, the last year that the RHS distributed ash seed, due to the dreaded ash dieback (Chalara fraxinea). Apparently the disease is transmitted by seed, and I must admit I am a little dubious about my seedling, but since it is such a pretty tree with coral-red young growth, I'm taking the risk and growing it on.
The tulips and alliums (right, above) are comforting me with lots of healthy shoots. Best of all, I seem finally to have made Eryngium giganteum 'Mrs. Willmott's Ghost' at home! I've been trying to germinate seed for a number of years now. Last year was the breakthrough, and four plants in the Rose Walk have come through the winter. If you also garden on heavy clay, in a cold, continental climate, you might be interested in the list of plants that have survived here. I'm planning to add it in the next few weeks and would welcome your thoughts.