Another weekend of enthusiastic sunshine coaxed some of the daffodils in the back garden into flower, joining the chorus lines out the front.
A few flowers around the edge of the biggest clump, between the pear cordons, lay spangled on the ground, the weight of their golden blooms evidently too much for their slender stems. I picked these and brought them into the house, marveling at the length of their stalks, which seem sturdy out of the wind’s onslaught, easily supporting their bright sunny faces in a vase.
We too were drawn out by the sun, which held surprising heat as we worked, particularly beneath glass in the greenhouse where we continued our preparations for the season ahead. Last summer, King of the Hill’s interest was piqued by Monty Don’s greenhouse tomato growing arrangement, broadcast on Gardener’s World, where his cordon plants were closely planted in two rows, supported by a double framework of bamboo poles. With our greenhouse borders dug over, KOTH constructed a similar frame in an L-shape, leaving the remaining space for more conventional spacing of cucumbers, aubergines and peppers.
Instead of our usual seven or eight tomato plants, these will enable us to grow sixteen plants; we will need to be much more organised at training them so that this close arrangement does not hamper their growth. Hopefully with a quieter year, we should manage this. After lending a hand to steady poles and tie them in, I potted on our first nine tomato plants from our first sowing a couple of weeks ago, and sowed more, including some Marmande to grow outside.
I sowed broad beans and various ornamentals, while KOTH planted peas in two lengths of drainpipe on the floor of the greenhouse, and sowed a selection of salad leaves, carrots and beetroot beneath the protection of the plastic mini polytunnel outside. The potting bench and staging in the greenhouse are beginning to fill with seed trays, along with various windowsills in the house. Already the first seedlings are emerging from previous weekends’ sowings; I still get such a thrill from each new sighting.
I pricked out the pot of Allium christophii seedlings shown above that I spotted a few weeks’ ago: these were sown in late May last year, and the pot was left hopefully outside the greenhouse, where they repaid my patience (or neglect!) and germinated as the days began to grow lighter and warmer once more. I also potted on the Echinops ritro and Geranium psilostemon which were sown indoors and sprung up late in the autumn. They are currently enjoying a sunny windowsill until they are ready to be hardened off and planted out.
Around the garden, new shoots are emerging everywhere, despite a few frosty mornings this week. The hairy green foliage of the red oriental poppy, not pictured, that I moved across the garden last year, has emerged once more in the field border, eliciting a sigh of relief from me.
Things are certainly starting to take off here, despite a few frosty starts this week.