Almost spring

After a month of crap on the world news front, ending in a week of breathless-wheezing-feeling-like-crap virus, it was very pleasant to wake up feeling vaguely human and find the sun was out. It seemed like a good day to go out and survey the post-Christmas disaster that is the garden, and start thinking about plans for this year. (By the looks of my Facebook, every gardening friend did the same.)

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To be honest I wasn’t expecting to find much worth mentioning, let alone much worth taking pictures of. So I was chuffed to find a few primroses already flowering. There are purple pansies too in the hanging baskets, and grape hyacinths sprouting everywhere. I was especially pleased to see that the hydrangea – a wedding anniversary present – had survived in its pot and has some beautiful fat buds. I’m going to sow some cosmos to fill gaps through the summer; the feathery lime green leaves are almost more beautiful than the flowers.

Further down the garden I found rhubarb buds breaking. I love the way the leaf buds unfurl to reveal fabulous ruffles of leaf and dark pink stems. Three plants provide us with crumbles and fools from spring through to late summer. These will be getting a good mulch of fresh compost before the leaves get too big. I’m going to add to the rhubarb and gooseberries with some autumn-fruiting raspberries this year. That’s as soon as I’ve dug over the neglected corner of the vegetable plot.

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I sowed some maché or lambs’ lettuce at the end of last summer as an experiment to see if I could get some winter salad. It hasn’t grown massively, but there are plenty of small plants to pick a few leaves at a time from. In a small plot like mine, everything has to pay its way, and this was a useful crop to fill an empty space after the French beans had finished. I’ll plant them closer next time to help keep the weeds down too.

My Sutherland kale is a roaring success. Despite my best efforts to net it, it was horribly eaten by caterpillars and I had pretty much given up on it. But true to its reputation, it survived and is producing masses of beautiful green leaves. I’m wondering if there’s a way to grow it in deep pots and plant it out in the autumn when everything else is being dug up. It does take up a lot of space for a long growing time…

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My final triumphant find was that the celeriac I’d given up on had quietly carried on growing without my anxious attentions! So proud. Suspect this one will turn into a delicious remoulade for a perfect lunch with some ham.

So then, inspired, I came inside and did my usual trick of sowing far too many seeds far too early. In a couple of weeks, they’ll be waking up, sprouting and pushing through to the light. In a month, they’ll be all over every damn windowsill in the house, getting not enough light to thrive. <sigh> Watch this space…

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