Tiny beauties and vibrant colour

From tiny freshly-hatched chicks to huge magnolias bursting into bloom, all creatures great and small are feeling the arrival of spring at Harlow Carr

First born chick at RHS Garden Harlow CarrFirst there was a cracking of shells and a loud chirping which sent a chain reaction through the rest of the eggs - and they all started to chirp together while still in their shells.

Then, one by one, out they all climbed; amazing how they unfurled themselves out of their shells - it suddenly seemed impossible that they'd fitted inside.

Out of the 21 eggs that Joe incubated, 19 hatched, and very quickly they established themselves into little chirpy bundles of fluff. More on this later…

Spring chicksThe wind turbine has been reinstated in Southfield (it went off for a service) and looks graceful as ever – we just need some wind now to power its blades! The surrounding area has just been re-seeded and we have added some lovely meadow flower seed into the mix: common toadflax, meadow vetchling, quaking grass, foxgloves and birdsfoot trefoil to name but a few.

The large Magnolia campbellii ‘Alba Group’ that I mentioned a few weeks ago is teetering on flowering  - everyone is watching it anxiously, anticipating its fantastic display.

Narcissus cyclamineus under rhododendronAs I walked up to the top of the garden through the sandstone rock area, my eye caught a delicate splash of yellow, further examination – which involved me crawling under a rhododendron –  revealed three tiny Narcissus cyclamineus so small but perfectly formed, as far as I’m aware these are the only ones in the garden outside the Alpine House, such a delightful treat.

Rhododendron barbatum in the woodsElsewhere the rhododendrons are beginning their big and blousy displays: Rhododendron barbatum is always one of the first, its rich red flowers are a glorious contrast to the glossy green leaves. Some of the rhododendrons here are very old – more than 65 years old – and still preparing to flower beautifully this year, you simply must come and see them over the next couple of months.

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