Signs of Spring

 

I’ve been out of town this weekend, enjoying the delights of Surrey’s innumerable hostelries in the company of my university friends. It’s the 19th year on the trot we’ve held a spring reunion. The occasion took place on Good Friday until we grew up and family commitments started to take precedence. Now we are more flexible about the date. The rendezvous has nothing at all to do with plants, and everything to do with beer and recounting lewd tales from the years we lived together. None of these will be repeated here lest I go down in your estimation, which I most certainly would. Truth is, you had to be there to find them even vaguely humorous.

 

Impatiens omeiana is already producing copious new shoots
Impatiens omeiana is already producing copious new shoots

 

Either side of the boozing and storytelling, I did get to spend time in our London garden. By now it is crying out for some tender loving care, having been cast into darkness since October. A blackbird has ensured the soil surface has had a good picking over (too good in places) and the earthworms have taken care of any remaining autumn leaves. Mr Fox has caused a lot less mischief this winter, although his presence can still be detected. It may well be that he finds the freshly raked vegetable beds too irresistible to ignore, creating havoc with the oriental salads, radishes and opium poppies I have sown today.

 

An unusual yellow hellebore with yellow nectaries
An unusual yellow hellebore with bright yellow nectaries

 

Frequent showers meant there was no need to water my seeds in. Precipitation alternated between rain and hail, which made the going tough, especially since I still had a slightly sore head. I can’t imagine why. Inspecting hellebores is an excellent hangover remedy, or cure for mild depression. I was happy to find some of those I thought I might have lost, flowering in dark corners of the garden. All of my hellebores hail from Bosvigo in Cornwall, including one with bright yellow nectaries and primose yellow petals purchased last year. It hasn’t come back quite as strongly as I had hoped, despite a lot of pampering. Meanwhile the reds, plums and blacks have come on a treat, each plant now surrounded by a miniature lawn of seedlings. I will grow some on to see if I have created any worthy new hybrids of my own. Please excuse my fingers in the photographs below.

 

Helleborus 'Bosvigo Doubles', March 2017

Helleborus 'Bosvigo Doubles', March 2017

Helleborus 'Bosvigo Doubles', March 2017

Helleborus 'Bosvigo Doubles', March 2017

 

The snowdrops are coming to an end, but G. ‘Seagull’ is still going strong. It’s hard to believe that the single flowering bulb I purchased for £20 in 2015 produced three blooms in 2016 and now eight in 2017. That feels like a good investment to me. Success with snowdrops, but not one single aconite from the clutch planted last year. Perhaps something ate the bulbs as the conditions should have been ideal for aconites. Clumps of blue Anemone blanda I planted at the same time have returned with gusto all over the garden; a surprise given our soggy soil. You win some and lose some in gardening, and often there’s no rhyme or reason to what survives and what perishes.

 

The first Anemone blanda bloom to open
The first Anemone blanda bloom opened today

 

An early night is on the cards, but not before I sort out an order for clematis to be sent to Broadstairs. These will line the path to our back door and provide company for a venerable old viticella named ‘Etoile Violette’. I am tempted to stick with viticella types as they flower at such a useful time in the summer and seem to tolerate draughty conditions. The forecast for the week ahead is for mild and wet weather, which should create perfect planting conditions for next weekend. You never know, I might have sobered up by then.

I’d love to hear what signs of spring you’ve noted in your own garden this weekend, and wish you a happy week ahead. TFG.

 

Ubiquitous Narcissus 'Tete a Tete' is already in full bloom
Ubiquitous Narcissus ‘Tête-à-Tête’ is already in full bloom