I found this cat whiling away a summer’s day in the Bregenzerwald.
At about this time every year I take pretty much exactly the same pictures of peonies. They are so dependable and beautiful, and really look at their best in a close up.
I have two kinds in my garden: a single headed, almost acid pink variety located in a super sunny spot which flowers first, then the more classic, double headed, pale pink variety. Both of them signal the arrival of real summer and this year they were spot on, with temperatures already pushing 30C.
Unfortunately these kinds of temperatures also bring storms in their wake and we had a brutal one yesterday. I was so relieved that we were spared hail, which would certainly have finished off these delicate blooms way too early. They are here for such a fleeting visit, photographing them is the only way to hold onto their gorgeousness for a little bit longer. So that’s what I do, regular as clockwork, every year.
This week I had the chance to be a tourist in my own city. A friend had guests visiting and had booked a two hour guided walk for them. She was kind enough to ask a couple of friends to join as well and we spent a lovely, sunny morning seeing our home with fresh eyes.
I moved to Vienna some 6 years ago now, and before that used to visit my husband’s family here fairly frequently. I like to think that I appreciate the beauty of this city as much, if not more, than I did when I was a disoriented and bamboozled new arrival. However, if I don’t have my camera with me, I notice things rather than really look at them.
This walk was a chance to see things properly again and our super guide took us through lots of little courtyards and back streets that I didn’t know even existed. After two hours I had a sore neck from looking up so much.
We spent Easter in the Bregenzerwald, over in the far west of Austria. Spring was well advanced as Easter was so late this year and the weather had been mild. However there was still plenty of snow at the local resort and we managed to squeeze in some spring skiing.
Ski resorts in spring are full of seasonal contrasts. The piste preparation meant that there was plenty of snow to ski on, but on the lower slopes the runs were flanked by lush green meadow. On pretty much the last skiable day there were even alpine crocuses popping up under the chairlift. Quite a different world from a mid-winter white out.
I am way too protective of my camera to ever risk skiing with it, so one morning, after it had snowed overnight, I sacrificed a couple of hours of skiing in fresh snow in order to take these pics. Well, it was the end of the of the season.
We had an unusually mild winter in Vienna this year, and spring came around much earlier than I dared possible. Believe me I am not complaining, it meant that I was out and into my garden with almost indecent haste.
Being spoiled in this way has made be a little blasé about this years’ spring flowers. Usually I am pathetically grateful for any splash of colour signifying that the long, grey winter may be drawing to a welcome end. Not this year.
Don’t get me wrong, I was as delighted as always to meet and greet those harbingers of hopefulness, the snowdrops, primulas, crocuses and forsythia, it’s just that the love was not as intense as usual.
The flowers which have been rocking my gardeners’ world this year have been a bit less obvious: viburnum, fritillaries, bleeding heart and the teeny, tiny blossom on my maple tree. The colour palate has been emphatically purple-ish, not as primary as usual.
I feel nervous writing this, as if I may be tempting fate and that winter might just sneak back and wreak its revenge on my complacency. If we have a rough one this year I may be writing a long paean to the delights of tulips and daffodils in April next year. But for the moment, let’s enjoy a slightly cocky spring.
The flowers this year are like nothing I have seen before.
I don’t know if the long, snowy, winter helped, but it feels as if everything is blossoming in an ostentatious and over the top way this spring.
I have had my garden for five years now and it is slowly reaching a level of maturity where I would actually consider dividing and cutting back some of the plants I spent ages encouraging to grow. There are blooms everywhere and it finally feels almost lush!
Out in the nearby wine gardens, the vines are already developing mini-grapes and the wildflowers have taken over in between the rows.
Here is a selection of the blossoms, both from my garden and from the wild.
May is a fantastic month is Austria, every week brings yet another public holiday. Last Thursday was Ascension, a holiday, and happily the schools had Friday free as well.
We took the opportunity to make a trip to the beautiful Bregenzerwald. When we were there at Easter everything was still under a deep blanket of snow. Spring had now more or less sprung and all of the deciduous trees were shooting out their violently green new leaves.
It is this combination of densely packed evergreen and deciduous trees that makes the Bregenzerwald so stunning. This is then finished off with carpets of lush hayfields, brimming with wildflowers.
On Sunday it snowed a little on the tops of the mountains and the fresh snow up against spring greens was breathtaking.
Next week there is another holiday, Whitsun. I will be spending it tending to my garden.
We had some rain this week, which was fantastic news for the garden. The warm, dry weather has been heaven but the plants really needed a good soaking.
My garden is definitely at its best late spring/early summer, there are so many plants blooming right now, and so many scents, it is lush.
This year I must get organised and start planting some autumn interest now. Any excuse for a trip to the garden centre.
Spring has officially sprung and it is wonderful.
The garden has been given a speedy makeover by mother nature. In the space of about five days it went from an uninspiring, barren area outside my house, to a living, breathing, pushing, blossoming, growing garden again.
There is nothing better for your mood than gardening in the spring. It is a miracle to see all of your firm favourites not only return, but return bigger, stronger and even more impressive than they were last year.
There is also the joy of buying new plants for the spaces left by annuals.
I spent all of last weekend working away and now I can sit back and enjoy (and photograph) the developing fruits of my labours.