Winter’s last hurrah

Today the garden seemed drab. Gone is the delight at spotting the snowdrops and Lenten roses coming into bloom, replaced with disappointment that the temperature has dropped checking the emerging growth of the herbaceous perennials. Spring is just around the corner and yet it is as if the garden has run out of steam.

Maybe the lesson is to plant the swathes of Easter lilies which brighten the neighbours plots. So far I’ve resisted temptation (with the exception of a small clump on the road side of the trees), considering them too brash to contrast with subdued hues of the Lenten roses. Perhaps some research is required when the bulb catalogues arrive in the autumn to identify some more subtle varieties…

Seed Sorting

February is drawing to a close, and despite success with tomatoes last year, I’m already behind with my seed sowing. I only have a single (unheated) windowsill propagator and two small cold frames so the opportunities for early sowings are very limited so I’m annoyed with myself for losing precious weeks.

Sorting through the seeds I’ve accumulated highlighted that March really marks the beginning of the growin season. Here it seems to be coinciding with the last hurrah of winter but that hasn’t stopped me sorting the packets by month and whether that are to be sown direct or into seed compost. Beds still need to be prepared but I’m ever hopeful or squeezing in an hour or two in the week or over next weekend. 

Today though I had two helpers who sowed basil, runner beans, sweet peas and tomatoes. We’ll all be watching eagerly for signs of germination.

Winter scent

The end of January saw me out in the garden with Lily and Rose. Homework this term has included talking about how plants grow so I took the opportunity to spend some time last weekend looking at the winter flowering plants in the garden.

IMG_2626

Lily explored the scent of the Christmas Box cuttings taken from Copse Hill. The original plant was given to me by the Mummy and Debbie on a visit to the wonderful winter garden at Anglesey Abbey. That plant’s sibling scents the Mummy’s kitchen on bright winter days and I’m hoping that these cuttings will have a similar impact on our otherwise cold and drab north-facing terrace in the back garden.

IMG_1537

Rose looked at the house leeks and Easter lily ‘Paperwhite’ bringing a splash of colour to the dark expanse of the patio table on the terrace. It is amazing how much bigger the table looks in winter when the surrounding pots have been tidied away. The pots have been chosen to bring as much colour as possible into the space. The terrace gets very little sun throughout the year surrounded as it is by the house, conservatory and garden wall. Our holiday in the South of France last year encouraged me to try and turn this into a perfumed oasis. Only time will tell whether I am successful in this intent.

(The Easter lily is a spare from the set planted by Lily and Rose in late autumn to give as Christmas gifts)

IMG_1543

Rose also discovered the scent of some of the shrubs in the front garden that we inherited when we bought the house. I loathe these viburnums (?) for 11 months of the year when their lacy leaves (some pest clearly loves the taste) and straggly habit give them a moth-eaten and threadbare look. They have been on the (long) list for removal but their importance as a source of nectar for early insects and the fabulous scent might persuade me to grant a stay of execution. I will have to research how to help them be their best.