Gardening: Heralding spring's arrival
PUBLISHED: 19:30 22 February 2016
As I write this, the sun is streaming through the window, and I can see clusters of yellow daffodils; bowing their heads in the wind.
You can almost imagine they are doing it in time to a piece of classical music - all is quiet, but the garden is alive. The difference between this month and last, is that although the temperatures were unseasonable last month, as we head towards the end of February, you can really feel that spring is just around the corner.
The days are drawing out, and it won’t be long before we are able to be out working in the garden for a little longer.
These are some of my favourite days in the garden. Don’t get me wrong; the long hot days of summer, with roses blooming all around are fairly magical, but there is something intoxicating about gardening with a slight chill in the air.
When the sun is shining, and you’ve been working hard – braving the job without a thick jumper on, and feeling a shiver when you pause for a moment to look around at what you’ve achieved.
The smell of damp earth and primroses provide a heady and yet delicate scent which is hard not to fall in love with. So much promise of what is yet to come, and the memory of the dark days of winter, already fading into back of your mind.
As a child these were the days that felt as though they would go on forever - the Easter holidays, with summer not so far ahead - there always seemed to be things to be done in the garden.
In those days, I watched as my parents worked away, getting the garden ready for its crowning glory in May - when it looks at its best, but now it is my turn - I can’t just sit back and watch someone else preparing and working, and putting their heart and soul into the garden, if I don’t find the time to put in the hours, it will be me who misses out on the late spring, and early summer beauty in the garden.
Sometimes it feels like a garden is hard work - but like anything in life worth having, the rewards come back tenfold. There will always be jobs which you want to put off, but generally they are the ones which bear most fruit. I always look at the lawn and think that it seems like a lot of effort to keep it mown every week, but as soon as it’s done, and I stand back and look at it, I’m always so satisfied with the result.
By the time I am writing my next column, the season change will be well under way, and I am hopeful that spring will finally be here!
Focus on: visiting gardens
At this time of year - especially as we draw closer to Easter, people are starting to think about their gardens again.
It’s very easy to close the door and forget about them whilst the winter weather is upon us, and it’s cold outside, but as the days start to lengthen, we think about making changes in our gardens. I always find it hard to look at the garden as a whole, and although my garden isn’t very big,
I find that it’s always a good idea to look at one space at a time. If you want to make changes, sometimes it’s easier to just change something small first - maybe one flower bed, and as long as it fits into your planting scheme in general, it shouldn’t look out of place.
If you are looking for inspiration, it can be really helpful to go and visit local open gardens - either personal gardens which open for the public, or even National Trust or English Heritage properties. I find that no matter how grand the house/gardens, there is always something that you can take away. A house with a whole bed of alpine plants for example, could be scaled down in your own garden, and you could plant up a long planter, or rockery.
As we head towards Easter, you will find that more and more of these properties are starting to open up for the season - so keep an eye out for places opening around Hertfordshire - we’re very lucky to have lots right on our doorstep.
Things to do in the garden this month...
* If you haven’t already done so, you can get out the lawn mower on a dry day, and give the lawn its first cut. Mine is massively overdue, but finding a dry day at a weekend doesn’t seem to have been possible!
* You can plant your early potatoes, and if you are growing onion sets, or shallots, you can think about getting these in as well.
* If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse, and (fingers crossed) we have some warmer days towards the middle of March – you can start to open the vents, or door whilst it’s warm.
* As the days start to get warmer, and your lawn starts to grow again – so will the weeds in the garden – if you make sure you get on top of them now, it’ll be much easier to keep on top of them throughout the spring/summer.