Spring has sprung.

I love this time of year. The days are getting longer, the birds are singing more, and the garden is wakening from its winter slumber.
I know that some people have fantastic winter gardens, but just looking outside the window now, the snowdrops and crocus have long since finished and the dogwoods have recently been cut back to about a foot high. That said the back border has looked fantastic in recent weeks. The hellebores have had masses of flowers and the primulas have been like large poses which stand out like beacons when the light is fading on an evening. There are clumps of narcissi flowing in the bottom border, which are under planted with blue anemones. When the sun shines the whole border is brought to life.

The garden is changing from one week to the next and on that rare occasion when the sun is shining, I love to spend five minutes in the garden before work, listening to the birds singing and to see what else has changed. Where the soil has lain empty for weeks, perennials and bulbs are now starting to grow and the ground is slowly becoming a carpet of green. There is promise of what is to come in the next few months.

A favourite shrub of mine is the camellia and I wouldn’t have a garden without one.  Despite them only flowering for a few weeks a year they have, in my opinion, flowers that make up for it. We have two that stand almost side by side down by the house, they both bear white flowers and they are currently covered in buds. They won’t flower for a few more weeks yet and I am hoping the weather stays mild and they put on a good show.
Deciduous trees and shrubs are also awakening with fresh buds waiting to burst and the cherry tree that stands in the corner of our garden is covered. I can hardly wait for it to flower and be buzzing with bees like last year.

Ready, get set, sow...

It’s the time of year when the house window sills are filling up with small pots of seedlings and young plants, but not this year. With the cold wet start to the year I decided it best to delay matters in the hope that once done, things would very quickly catch up. I found this to be the case last year when for instance the tomato plants sown in April were no further behind than those sown in February.  But time is ticking away.
So far, the tomatoes and peppers that were sown in February are doing well and it won’t be long before they are individually pricked out and potted on into individual pots. I have recently sown the seed for spring onions, cabbages, managetout and peas. These were given a good watering and put into the unheated greenhouse. I would have preferred to get the peas done a little earlier as I find that this helps to avoid problems with the pea moth.
As well as sowing in pots, seeds have been sown direct in the ground for the leeks and parsnip. Given the adverse weather conditions, cloches were placed over the area these were to be sown for a couple of weeks. As a result the soil was able to warm up a little and any further rain prevented from soaking into the soil. Once the seeds had been sown the cloches were used to protect the seed until the weather improved.
It isn’t just seed that needs sowing at this time of year, if you are growing onions from sets now is the time to get them into the ground. If the soil is still cold and wet you can plant these in plug trays to get them growing, planting them outside at a later date. However, the easiest method for me is to plant them direct. The quickest way would be to push each bulb into the ground at about 12 inches apart, but a drawback of this would be for the soil underneath the bulb to become compacted and as the roots grow, result in pushing the bulb out of the ground. The best way would be to plant the bulbs in a trench, pulling the soil back over the bulbs to cover. This not only prevents the soil around the bulb becoming compacted, but also covers the tips of the bulbs making it more difficult for birds to spot and pull up.
At the end of last year I filled the greenhouse borders with a different kind of bulb, daffodils and tulips. The daffodils have put on a good display providing cut flowers for indoors for the last couple of weeks. These have just about finished now, but the tulips are now started to flower. Hopefully these will put on a good show and provide a bunch or two for indoors also.