The changing of the clocks makes an enormous difference to my enjoyment of the garden. Although the mornings have temporarily descended back into darkness, there is still light in the sky when I arrive home in the evening. Soon this will increase to broad daylight and by midsummer I’ll be able to enjoy the evening sun, with a gin and tonic in one hand and a watering can in the other. Longer days mean I can inspect the garden at both ends of the working day and enjoy pretty stretches of North Kent coastline and countryside on my daily commute into the Big Smoke. I already feel less like a nocturnal creature and far more free in mind and body. The months of complete darkness number only four, but what long, energy-sapping months they are.
I plan to leap into action over Easter, giving myself a demanding list of house and garden-related tasks to complete. I have deliberately not planned days out or accepted social invitations: there are jobs to be done and four days in a row is too precious to fragment. My list is unrealistic, of course, and so I already know that I will fail to tick everything off. It’s the intent that matters. The payback for all my hard work will come in few weeks’ time when I have trips to Cornwall and ….. wait for it ….. Disneyland Paris. But that’s another story, for another day.
Given the Easter forecast is not especially promising – four solid days of ‘light rain and breezy‘ according to BBC weather – I am planning to plonk myself in the workshop for a long spell of potting and sowing. I am guilty of keeping too many plants in pots that ought to be larger, both as a result of laziness and a lack of space. I have resolved to use fewer, larger containers this year, although I don’t honestly trust that I have the willpower to avoid cluttering the place up again. My gingers have outgrown their black plastic pots to such an extent that they have wildly distorted the flexible sides with their powerful roots. At a guess they will need cutting out of their containers and dividing, before replanting in something approximately the size of a dustbin: one of the many reasons I like exotic plants is their extraordinary vigour when they are happy with their lot. The gingers I over-wintered in the garage are still slumbering, whilst those I found space for indoors are already producing vigorous new shoots. With luck they will flower a bit earlier.
The scale of the task in hand will be increased by the arrival of my annual package from Living Colour Bulbs, which this year includes sultry Colocasia ‘Black Magic’, zany Caladium ‘Freida Hemple’, fiery Gloriosa rothschildiana and an exciting discovery, Begonia josephi. This is a new species with purplish-green leaves and sulphur yellow flowers which I am particularly looking forward to testing in my garden. Like most other begonias it will perform best with a little shade, regular watering and frost protection.
I sincerely hope there will be a few breaks in the rain, allowing me time to finish emptying the shed. Now I have the workshop I don’t need additional storage space, although I will miss the convenience of having my tools close at hand. On balance it will be a relief to rid myself of the sight of yet more grey-green weathered wood and replace it with abundant foliage. The space that the shed currently occupies will become part of a small border at some point in the future. Before I can go ahead with that plan a large quantity of rubble, bricks and paving need to be lifted and disposed of. Although I can feel my joints aching at the very thought of it, the good thing about throwing myself into chores is that everything else will be forgotten and I can truly live in the moment for the first time since Christmas. TFG.
Also on My Easter Weekend List:
- Cutting back rampant Holboellia latifolia
- Tidying, feeding and topdressing weatherbeaten Agapathus africanus
- Potting up lilies, dahlias and Eucomis bicolor
- Assembling my spring bulb theatre
- Starting off Colocasias, Caladiums and Gloriosas in a propagator (they like a bit of heat from below to get them going …. don’t we all?!)
- Sowing seeds of Geranium maderense and Iris domestica, among others
- Painting boundary panelling (weather permitting)
- Buying new plants
- Organising the greenhouse to make space for new plants
- Organising the garden room to make space for me!