One of my projects in the garden last autumn almost never happened. I had bought about 70 bulbs of various narcissi, alliums and tulips to spread around the garden in little groups, and then some larger groups in what I call my 'spring garden' under the hazel tree. Just as it was time to plant the bulbs last October and November, I developed a cough and struggled to bend over long enough to plant the piles of bulbs. After several wheezy attempts we finally got them all planted towards the end of October. All of this long winded wittering is to build up the sense of expectation I had by the time spring came. Would the daffodils even flower? Would the slugs and insects eat all of the tulip leaves? Had I planted them incorrectly? Day by day I have wandered into the garden checking progress, and hoping that my act of faith in the autumn would come to fruition.
So I hope you will forgive my utter pride in my new 'spring garden' and wont mind me sharing some pictures of how its getting on so far...
Last week we went on a wonderful spring walk in the woods. The weather was warm and sunny, the birds were almost deafening us with their singing and I even managed to impress myself (and Mr C) by recognising wild garlic in the hedgerow. We even saw a buzzard soaring high above the trees. It was one of those days when all seemed right with the world and we didn't want to go indoors at all.
We are getting better at recognising plants and flowers I think, although I didn't know what this one was - if anyone knows, please let us know:
We also managed to make a few vintage and antique purchases whilst we were away. I saw a simple painting of a hen house in an antiques shop. It would have been easy to ignore, it wasn't framed and it wasn't particularly old. But there was something I loved about it - it kind of reminded me of Duncan Grant or Gwen John paintings in its colouring, even though it was just of a little hen house, a bonfire and some hens. When we brought it home we managed to find a frame that actually fitted (always a surprise in Hazel Cottage where few of the pictures and frames ever fit each other). It now takes pride of place in our dining room, and despite my awful photo of it, we both really love it.
The new daffodils at Hazel Cottage are taking their time to bloom, but we continue to prepare the garden, planting the raspberry canes and clearing the area around our apple tree so we can start sowing grass seed later on. Seeds for the veg bed are being sown and I am thinking about moving my love-in-the-mist seedlings around the garden in patches. There will soon be lighter evenings and an awful lot to do....
After what seems like a long winter, we are finally in the month of March and the promise of spring. The weather is brighter and the first daffodils are starting to bloom. March was the first month of the year for the Romans who named it after Mars the god of war, and 25th March (often known as Lady Day) remained as the first day of the year until a couple of hundred of years ago. Although its easy to think that winter is now over, March often has surprises in store - something the Anglo Saxons knew only too well, they named March 'Hlyd monath' - which means stormy month. Charles Dickens wrote about the changeable nature of it:
It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.
Despite the warnings, March is a month of much promise and growth. At Hazel Cottage, the tiny shoots of daffodils of a few weeks ago are now in bud and even a few are flowering and the redcurrant bush we planted is showing signs of budding. I keep checking the forsythia to see if any of its buttery yellow flowers are appearing yet. A delicate hellebore I planted last year is looking wonderful, although it appears a little shy, with its flowers facing away from the path as I walk past. I've decided not to take it personally though!
"The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
And sings." Joyce Kilmer, Spring