How are you and what’s the weather like there?
Here it’s been gusting wind all day, and all through the night. Banging the windchime my brother made for me, blowing over my plastic greenhouse, making pots and anything not tied down or buried scutter along the ground. With the wind comes a welcome mood of change; longer days; the showers and bursts of sunshine that spell SPRING.
Last weekend I moved our compost bin to a new location; it had got wonky and needed digging out, plus there is now a shady bit underneath the Walnut tree where nothing will grow (because shade) but where compost will very happily break down through the warmer months ahead.
Digging through the compost is one of my favourite things. I just think it’s amazing that you can chuck away old cabbage leaves and banana peels and apple cores and brown cardboard and crunched up egg shells and tea leaves and that, in time, nature will transform it all into sumptuous velvety nourishment for future plants. Nothing we have invented by way of recycling systems is as simple or magical as compost. Our compost isn’t perfect – I’ve learnt over time to be more discerning about what goes in there, and sadly the compost that has been breaking down for ten years or so in our bin is still haunted by the skeletons of teabags chucked in there before I realised many of them are laminated in plastic . I am also amazed at how resistant to breaking down the shiny part of the avocado peel seems to be; and I regret my enthusiast inclusion of meat-bones in our compost of the past, as there is something a bit ghoulish about the bones I sometimes find in our compost bin. Still, it is amazing to be able to fill all the plant pots for this years’ seedlings with compost from our own vegetable waste.
KALE is my favourite thing to grow and I’ve been carefully preparing a raised bed, for which I have a cover to try and stop the pesky cabbage-white butterflies from decimating the lovely big soft leaves. I learnt about a variety called Sutherland Kale in this blog post from Joanna Dobson, and have grown it ever since. This year I’m also going to try and grow some garlic…
…these bulbs came from the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm and I am so excited to see the tiny shoots peeping up and looking promisingly full of life.
Not everything in the garden that I’m trying to nurture this spring was planted here by me. Just outside my studio, I have three pots each containing a tree planted by one of the industrious squirrels. The squirrels have all the nuts from our walnut tree (last year only 10 were spared for us) but they are also prolific planters. There are no acorns within view of our garden and yet I found 2 acorns buried in pots at the back of the garden; likewise, this slender hazelnut tree, which was found in a raised bed, simply couldn’t have gotten there by itself. Every time I see this little tree, I think “a squirrel planted that” and it makes my smile so much.
Likewise, this daffodil under the apple tree has established itself completely independently of our efforts. This evening, looking around and admiring all the signs of life, I noticed and was happy for its presence. The centre so orange and yolk-y! The frill so proud and yellow!
Other things that are showing signs of life are the results of years of focused effort. The Madder plants which I have had for maybe over a decade are once again showing signs of life, and pushing up their bright, prickly shoots amidst the dead and dried old stems of last years’ growth.
The old rusty barbeque that I salvaged last year and turned into a planter is looking very fine after a morning of tidying all the old pots, putting fresh compost into them, and planting a few different things I want to try… Black Sesame; Uncle John’s Kale; Sutherland Kale and Sorrel. The dandelions I rescued from the lawn look like a starburst about to happen.
Friends are present in my garden, too.
There are forget-me-nots here which I planted in memory of a dear friends’ Father who died last year. At the height of lockdown, nobody could go to his funeral, so we listened to songs which he loved, and planted seeds in his honour.
I also have these special tulip bulbs which were gifted me by my friend Madeleine in Shetland in 2019. They have been slightly stunted by the frost, but their curling green leaves and tiny little buds tell me they are persisting anyway, and will bloom soon.
The frost has stunted my white arum lillies too. Yet in the heart of their slimy, damaged stems, there seems to be signs of life. Like everything else in the garden, and the mood coming in on the wind today, the lillies seem full of determination to keep going, and optimism for sunnier days ahead.
I share this mood of hope and look forward to sharing pictures of its big blousy white petals here later in the year.
I hope that wherever you are, the spring is coming to you too, and that you have enjoyed these little postcards from my garden.
Thanks for reading.
YOURS IN THE IMPENDING JOYS OF NEW LIFE AND LONGER DAYS,