The Great Spring Awakening


Space. The final frontier.

Well it is once you’ve run out.


Mike asked me yesterday morning what my plans were for the day.

“Sowing seeds.”

”But have you got any seeds left to plant?”

Fortunately I was able to answer with an uncharacteristic degree of accuracy because I’d just that minute conducted a tally. 31 packets of seeds. All needing to be sown in March. And as it happens another 40 packets arrived in the post today.. my Hardy Plant Society annual allocation, or should I say my 20 plus the 20 additional ones that I ordered on Mike’s behalf. I’ll just have to pace it. Because, well.. space.

I love it really. I love seeing things germinate and nurturing them through the various stages of their development. From the propagator to the greenhouse. Pricking out and potting up. To the cold frames for hardening off. And, finally, if the law of averages tips in my favour and something, anything, makes it to the end of the production line: onwards to the great outdoors..



The shelves are filling up too. These are mostly overwintered plants from last year’s crop of seedlings and cuttings. Hopefully almost ready to plant out. The shelves have proved invaluable and we have a rollback plan should the nights again turn cold: large trays at the ready for the torchlight dash to the protection of the shed. Sunday night’s dash revealed a brilliantly clear moon and spectacular starry sky. Quarter of an hour earlier and we might even have witnessed a meteor.


Narcissus 'Tiny Bubbles'


Diminutive Narcissus ‘Tiny Bubbles’


Iris reticulata 'Natasha'


Iris reticulata ‘Natasha’


And, just a couple of days ago, the meteorological first day of spring. Has it ever been more welcome? I don’t think so. We’ve had a weekend of simply glorious weather and, even though it is about to get cooler again, it really has felt like a step change in the seasons. Geese fly overhead. Bees and Brimstone butterflies have accompanied me in the garden. I just hope they found enough to sustain themselves so early in the year.



Helleborus x hybridus ‘Harvington Lime’

Doing my bit for the cause.


Helleborus 'Penny's Pink'


Helleborus ‘Penny’s Pink’


Helleborus 'Cinderella'


Helleborus ‘Cinderella’



Hellebore. Un-named but beautiful, grown from seed.



The bird is back (archive shot).


Ptolemy Pheasant arrived in much the same way as he always does. With a flourish. A tour of inspection, stopping here and there to peck at anything which might be deemed remotely edible. Much squawking and flapping of wings. There is a feeling that the balance of power has shifted chez duck and (spoilers) it has nothing to do with us. He had better watch his p’s and q’s is all I can say.

We’ll be having none of the territorial malarkey from a few years back when we were held under siege and defensive weaponry became a necessity, just to go and collect the post. In the space of just one night the strategically vital steps from the house to the top of the hill fell into enemy talons and were held that way through round the clock surveillance and patrols. Skirmishes at the border often followed a theme. Mike (red coat) was often singled out for attack and the poor post lady (red van), even chased off down the road. I’ve no doubt she carries the trauma with her to this day.



The omens do not look good. This year’s Ptolemy (impossible to say whether it is the same one) has established a guard post in the exact same spot as the last one did – under a clump of lonicera bushes alongside the foot of the steps. I can see it from the kitchen window. He spent lunchtime yesterday standing to attention dead centre of the bottom step, gleaming like a well polished copper kettle and magnificent in the sunshine but nevertheless in full and uncompromising possession of his ground.



Pheasant permitting and garden fork at the ready, at long last it’s time to get out there and get things done. The borders look better for it already. At least they do if you wander no farther than the back door, don blinkers and squint. It’s a start.

Rather than get into inward recriminations about bolting horses and stable doors, or any other form of self flagellation for that matter, I have quietly erased ‘mulch tender perennials’ from the to-do list. Such items have a tendency to remain there long after their sell by date and we shall now just have to wait and see what has managed to survive the winter, in spite of the gardener’s neglect.



Agapanthus ‘Indigo Dreams’

It doesn’t take much to raise the spirits at the start of spring. The tiniest flash of green, just where you need it to be, that’ll do it for me.