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Scented narcissi

Scented narcissi

I feel like I’m slowly emerging from hibernation. The weather isn’t perfect, in fact it’s raining again today but there has been a taste of spring over the last two weeks which has tempted me outdoors. It’s the last day of February today and technically the last day of winter but, as is quite typical for this time of year, the seasonal transition has brought some of the coldest weather so far. There’s a saying if March comes in like a lion then it’ll go out like a lamb and vice versa. Every year I mean to keep some sort of record of whether this has any real basis – I always forget. I hope the snow and frost predicted for this weekend count as March coming in like a lion and we’ll all be basking in spring sunshine by the end of the month.

The lengthening days and the warmth in the sun have given me enough of a spur to start tackling jobs in the garden. I had one of those days last week when I didn’t plan on doing anything in particular, just a bit of cold frame re-jigging, but before I knew it the patio was a sea of pots as both the cold frames and greenhouse were emptied entirely, staging was removed and there I was giving them a full-blown spring clean. I didn’t realise how dirty the greenhouse had got until I had finished and it was now sparkling in the late afternoon sunshine.

Seedlings

Seedlings

This sudden burst of enthusiasm had been prompted to a certain extent by some weekend seed sowing and the realisation that space was already a bit on the tight side. Reorganisation was needed. It’s already looking like another one of those years where my plans far outstrip the space I have to carry them out.

It’s always a pity when good weather is so limited to spend a glorious day inside when there’s so much I could be doing outside, but my trip to London and the RHS Lindley Library last week had been planned for a while. Still, if I was going to be indoors on a sunny day there can’t be many better places to be. It was my first visit and it was garden book bliss. I was there doing research and got through quite a few books in my limited time but I had only scratched the surface of what was on the shelves. I can’t wait to go back there again.

A few days by the sea in South Devon at the start of this week gave us a much needed break. It was a pity to hear from the owner of the bed and breakfast that people had cancelled their planned breaks because of the recent storms. There were places where there was visible storm damage, sand bags, trees uprooted and plants burnt to a crisp by salt-laden winds but, in general, it’s remarkable how unscathed most places were. For areas so dependent on tourism it’s incredibly important to support the local economy and the best way to do this is go there on holiday. I don’t know why I’m always surprised at how much milder it is in the south-west. In the sheltered little fishing villages and coves there were scented narcissi in full bloom already. I have the same bulbs on my cut flower patch and even though it has been a mild winter, with hardly any frost, it’ll be another month or so before mine flower.

A sea view

A sea view

I picked the first posy of flowers from the allotment yesterday – a handful of Anemone coronaria, and there are primroses galore in the garden so I have a few small jars of those dotted about the house too. With seedlings appearing in trays on the windowsill and packages of seeds and bulbs arriving through the post it all feels quite exciting. For me this is the real start to the new year.

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