For the past couple of days, we have seen welcome spells of sunshine, amid squally showers where the brutal winds throw rain horizontally at the house.
While the ground is still saturated in places and the winds are fierce, the garden is beginning to slowly unfurl. Small clusters of snowdrops curve around the front of the long border; many are in their second year now, while some were added late last spring from one of the many vigorous clumps in my Mum’s garden. It will be a few years yet before they form good clumps, but they are already slightly less sparse than last year.
A splash of purple deep in the border caught my eye; closer investigation revealed a single slender Crocus tomasinianus bud. It has sprung up so close to the Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ that my Mum gave me that it must be an escapee from her garden, where they run riot into the lawn from the borders each spring. I scattered my own seeds of C. tomasinianus along the front of this border last year, which will take two or three years to flower if they germinate and establish. How lovely to find a surprise forerunner: when it has finished flowering I shall move it forward to the edge to help introduce a swathe of purple here in years to come.
Across the garden, there is a splash of deep violet from our small Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’, a rich contrast with the motley pinks and purples of its species cousins that romp around the long border.
For weeks there have been huddles of Cyclamen coum leaves covering the pots which I stood in the borders, along with their offspring which I transplanted directly into the ground. I shall plant the contents of these pots out this year as well to establish themselves. New clumps of wild primrose leaves have appeared throughout the borders again this year as they spread themselves about delicately, while the older plants have been flowering non-stop all winter.
The black pussy willow, Salix gracilis ‘Melanostachys’, which we planted last year in memory of our cat, Willow, has beautiful vivid red buds and the first furry black catkins beginning to emerge. I think she would have liked it…
An unknown pot of daffodils has burst into flower at the side of the house, to join the chorus blooming in our front garden: I don’t recall putting any Rijnveld’s Early Sensation into pots when I planted them two autumns ago, but the early appearance of these would suggest otherwise. I must make better notes!
Everywhere there are signs of new life emerging. A Euphorbia that my Mum gave me in the autumn has a beautiful green spear of overlapping scales, lapped with pink, while one of the most exciting shoots is that of Paeonia mlokosewitschii, charmingly known as ‘Molly the Witch’, which I bought at Great Dixter at the end of October. There was something a little disconcerting about buying what seemed to be a small pot of compost with no discernible plant life, and I’m sure my husband thought it an odd choice to bring home, but what a beautiful pink shoot it has pushed forth! I have yet to decide where to plant this to best enjoy its beautiful yellow flowers in the future: not a quick plant, this, it is unlikely to flower for a number of years, but I believe it will be well worth the wait.
There is anticipation indoors too; while I am yet to sow the first seeds of the year, an unknown seedling has germinated in a pot of mint cuttings that I took last autumn and have nursed through the cold months. I suspect that I re-used compost for these cuttings, so this may well be something that I sowed and lost patience with that has finally responded – or an errant chilli seed. Time will tell; the first true leaves are just beginning to appear.