After almost four weeks away from our coastal garden I am back in the driving seat. For a fleeting moment this morning it felt like spring was really here – warm sun on my back and birds singing in the trees. The warmth brings out the foxy odour of Fritillaria imperialis, which I find strangely appealing. Fittingly for April, the showers quickly set in, flattening many of the daffodils. This is why I am a fan of Narcissus ‘Jetfire’, which is reliably upright and healthy looking, whatever the weather. If you find these colours a bit too assertive, then ‘Jack Snipe’, below, is another sturdy little daff for containers or borders. It’s especially heartening to see the first flowers of Tulipa ‘Purissima’ opening, top, shortly to be joined by ‘Orange Emperor’, which is a similar height.
Now I am back, it’s all systems go. I have three large boxes of summer flowering bulbs which need planting. Some of these were already tucked away in a large tub of moist compost before we went on holiday. They are already sprouting, anxious to get into their permanent homes, but most will have to be patient for another week.
I can tell it’s been bitter whilst I have been away as lots of evergreen foliage has been scorched by salt-laden gales. The new growth of Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ is badly frazzled. Hopefully the egg-yolk coloured pompom flowers won’t be damaged when they emerge in a week or two.
At the end of next week my 40th birthday present finally arrives – a set of four bespoke planters for my trusty Agapanthus africanus. These are a gift from all my lovely friends. The old ones, built from tanalised pine and painted inside with bitumen (or something else black and waterproof), have soldiered on for 6 years but are now falling apart. The new ones have been made from responsibly sourced hardwood and have integrated fibreglass liners, so should long outlive the originals. They are also slightly larger in all dimensions, which will be a relief to the aggies which are already packed in like sardines. Although agapanthus like their roots restricted, after a while flowering starts to decline if they are not divided.
The biggest project of the year also commences next week, the refurbishment of the outdoor kitchen. This area has been our pride and joy since we built the garden, but has suffered badly as the result of flaws in the original construction. Given none of us involved had a clue how to make a kitchen last in the open air, I think it’s done pretty well. However the doors are falling off so action needs to be taken. This time we’re investing in a one piece granite worktop with a generous overhang to limit any leakage or damage to the paintwork. With the metalwork spruced up and a lick of paint I am hoping we can get it looking good as it looked when it was new, back in 2008.