Another cold but dry weekend with a bitter south-easterly wind saw us wrapping up warm again to spend as much time in the garden as we could.
On Saturday, the sun took the edge off the low temperatures and for a time we even cast off our jackets to work in short sleeves. Beneath the glass of the cold frame, the air felt lovely and warm, and we rotavated the soil and sowed our first seeds inside it; a selection of salad leaves, carrots, beetroot and radishes.
The daffodils around the garden are still putting on a good show despite the buffeting winds and ongoing frosts, glowing when the sun shines.
When the tall trumpet daffodils at the front of the long border have finished flowering this year, I am thinking of relocating them, probably to join the clumps in the grass around our pear trees. These large daffodils look so much happier naturalising in grass and around trees, than standing stiffly in the borders, although I also love them in our more formal narrow beds in the front garden, where WP Milner have succeeded from Rijnveld’s Early Sensation.
With the daffodils in the back garden, it is not so obvious from the viewpoints above, but certainly when viewed from the house they seem rather out-of-sorts at the front of the widest part of this mostly herbaceous border. With their long slender stems and large flowers they form a rather disparate group, standing taller than anything around them at this time of year and looking almost forlorn bobbing by themselves.
The smaller narcissus dancing around their ankles are far more in keeping with a position at the front of the border, barely taller than the large Crocus vernus fading beside them; these are Rip Van Winkle, another of our new varieties added last autumn.
King of the Hill chose these, captivated by the ruffled stars of their double flowers which unfurl with a greenish-yellow tint. There are very few double flowers in our garden, as I tend to favour less fussy single blooms, but I must admit that these are rather attractive, although the icy wind has left some of those in pots looking a little downcast.
The gold of the daffodils is reflected at the back of the long border in the gentle smattering of flowers on our young Forsythia and nearby Kerria japonica.
New leaves are beginning to unfurl on willows, and shoots are pushing up through the earth in glowing clusters of green and red: the garden is really beginning to sing of Spring.
With rain and warmer temperatures finally forecast for the week ahead, I planted out a few more pots of young plants into the garden, and took what may prove to be the last opportunity to move plants before they are in active growth to relocate the self-sown pink primrose to the woodland end of the long border.
It settled in well amidst the fresh foliage of aquilegias, some of which are tinged with pink, with its yellow siblings romping nearby.
The lawns received their first cut of the year, and there was more serious work to be undertaken in the kitchen garden, as we continued preparing the beds for the season ahead. I dug the smallest bed in the autumn to plant garlic, which has stood defiant through the long winter. This weekend, we continued working across the longest bed, beside the new coldframe, digging out all the weeds before finally rotavating the ground.
The salsify was dug up and brought into the house for preparation, with only a few leeks, a cabbage and a cauliflower left standing for a little longer. The brassica cages have temporarily moved to the last remaining kitchen bed to be worked, until we install them over this season’s cabbages which have yet to be sown.
With just the one central bed left to be rescued from debris and dug over, the kitchen garden is beginning to look tidier and ready for action. We are determined not to let it fall into such disarray again at the end of this year, hoping instead to sow green manures over any empty areas to enrich the ground rather than letting the perennial and annual weeds move in. Time will tell whether we manage to achieve this!