Saturday, 24 April 2010

A bright perfect day.

Some days the sun is so right and the flowers so bright..

Monday, 12 April 2010

So it's Spring again.

Whilst I try and write this the sun calls me from outside, impossibly inviting rays are streaming through the window and the birds are doing their best to sing like garden sirens, beckoning me out to enjoy the delights of the world (though without the water death).

Due to the harsh winter and late frosts sadly some plants have suffered, old favourites that have made their way through winters past have had their boughs crushed by snow and young foliage nipped back by the frost. On the plus side the daffs that were slowed down due to the cold are now still coming out in beautiful staggered arrays of whites and yellow, the Hyacinths are still flowering and the herbaceous borders are crammed with young foliage bursting with Spring vibrancy.

As always this time our year seems filled with potential and I've already gone into plant order overdrive though thankfully have places for all the plants that are coming, with some minor changes to garden layouts. It's around this time that I also like to take a little break from the plethora of jobs to be done to simply stand with a cuppa and admire the garden from a distance. We're still able to see the bones of the garden which whilst being fleshed out with Spring growth allows us to plan future ideas, maybe a reshaping of the lawn or replanting of areas that aren't quite living up to our expectations.

Last year I finally discovered the true delights of annuals having always sadly dismissed them before in a delusional snobbery that they were only good enough for parks and city planting. How wrong was I? Standing outside today I can almost here the weeds growing, filling gaps, exploiting bare earth and relishing in the freshly turned soil; with annuals under my arms I'm able to reclaim these areas before they do. Plug plants are cheap and so I go into the garden with trays of Lobelia's and Alyssums, scented Stocks and colourful Wallflowers ready to create a early year splash. When they're done they're simply lifted out and replenish the garden via the compost heap but till then they'll cheer my day waving their coloured heads and wafting the scent of life about whilst I work. With the coming of the Garden Show period you'll undoubtedly be buying new plants for the garden and it's useful to have short lived annuals to fill the gaps for a brief time till you pick up these fresh longer lived additions.

Amongst the planting of annuals and the weeding out of amazingly fast growing weeds there's a list of other jobs also clamouring for your attention. By now most lawns have already starting their yearly mowing regime but it's not too late to be giving them a top dress, feed and repair, get the rake out and shift the winters damage: moss and thatch creep in so easily, especially in the damp weather. If like me you've also erred on the side of caution then there's likely to be cutting back of old frost damaged foliage to do too, my Lavenders are looking particularly scraggy but with a mass of fresh soft shoots lower down the branches and the late cold snaps I'm glad I left the old brown growth for protection. Feed your plants, check for dead branches, keep an eye out for bulbs going over and pinch out the dying flower heads and spend time just enjoying the blossoming year. Pop to a second hand book shop and pick up a copy of a yearly gardening book (there always seems to be a Hamilton or Titchmarsh one when I've gone), then sit back with a drink of your choice and read whilst nature does her thing around you.

Oh and word of warning keep an eye out for bindweed shoots coming up, they'll popping up their purpley green shoots now and will appear to grow whilst you watch. If possible, get a fork in and dig out the roots as best you can but be gentle, they have a habit of snapping of and propagating themselves. If you can't get to the roots I recommend sticking a cane into the ground next to them so you can keep a check and pinch them out at first sign of growth, you'll have to do this weekly but it is worth it in the long run. If for any reason you don't get to them regularly the chances are they'll climb the cane rather than smothering the neighbouring plants and getting a hold before you realise.

Above all else, enjoy just being out in the garden, it's approaching t-shirt weather, feel the sun on your skin and relax knowing Winter's behind you and you've the whole year ahead, lighter days and warmer weather (hopefully).
Have fun, I'm now off to potter contented in the undergrowth.