Gardening: Something's coming, something good...
PUBLISHED: 09:31 04 February 2015 | UPDATED: 16:57 06 August 2015
As I sit in the warmth of my sitting room, at my writing desk, I am looking out of the window at the garden.
If I don't look closely, I see the same view that I have looked out at a thousand times over the past couple of months - the eucalyptus tree still gives a pleasing hue of muted grey/green amongst the otherwise uninspiring backdrop of the few gathered leaves which I haven't yet got around to clearing, and the lawn is jewelled with dew.
When I look though, when I really look - I can see a change. There is a shoot - a pure green, perfect shoot. It is spring, it is life, it is coming. As I look to the side of that shoot, there is another, and another, and when I look further I can see that they are everywhere.
At different heights, they are each making their own journey through the soil, after the months of hibernation and growth under the ground, they are working their way to the surface; to the light. The winter can feel like a very long season for any keen gardener.
Although there are always jobs that you can do in the garden, throughout the winter months, it does feel like these three months take far longer than any others in the year. The shorter days do not lend themselves to spending hours in the garden, and although we can take a lot from lovely colourful shrubs, and evergreens; there is no doubt that the Spring is welcomed with open arms by anyone who enjoys spending time in their garden. Anyone who has read my column for a while, may be familiar with the story of why I love snowdrops so much - like many gardeners, the arrival of snowdrops is the signal for me that spring is on her way. Living in a big city, whilst studying for my degree, I could go for weeks without seeing any green spaces - and at times that felt a million miles from home.
Each and every year I would receive a parcel, which came towards the end of January, or at the beginning of February - it would contain a margarine tub - packed carefully with wet tissue paper, and gently nestled between the sheets of tissue, were the most precious, the most stunningly beautiful, individual snowdrop flowers.
My mum sent these to me every year, and had packed me off to university with a tiny glass vase in which I used to put these special blooms. That same vase is sitting next to my computer now - on my writing desk. It is empty - there are yet to appear any snowdrop flowers in my own garden... but my mum is coming to see me this week... I am hopeful she’ll have some with her..
It is spring. It is life. It is coming.
Focus on: Snowdrops
Galanthophiles up and down the country will have been enjoying the emergence of snowdrops throughout January, and into February. By the time this goes to print, you should be able to see snowdrops peeking out all over the place. I am yet to see them in abundance, but with a new garden myself, I am waiting to see how well the bulbs that I planted in the autumn, have taken.
Many people are familiar with the historical stories of how valuable tulips became in Holland during he 1630’s, and although we are nowhere near that kind of situation with snowdrops - they can be very expensive - with some specific types of snowdrop changing hands for huge amounts of money! It’s hardly surprising when you see how beautiful these delicate little flowers are, to think that those who really love them, are prepared to pay a lot for them.
With so many different types of snowdrop available to buy, there must be a snowdrop for everyone - if you like tiny, delicate and fragile, or bold, and bright - there will be a type of snowdrop that can make you smile.
Things to do in the garden this month:
*If the soil is fairly dry, you can consider giving the lawn it’s first cut of the year. There are few things more satisfying than seeing the lawn freshly cut after the drabness of winter. Make sure you set the mower high - as this isn’t a proper cut - but more just to give a tidy, and also to help protect against moss or weed growth.
* February is a good time to prune climbers such as clematis and summer-pruned wisteria.
* Prune well established roses - it’s a good idea to disinfect your secateurs to reduce the spread of any diseases between your plants
* From mid to late February, you can sow beans and peas directly into the ground.
* If we get the snow the weather forecasters keep threatening; make sure you take care of your plants. Bulbs will be fine under the soil, and even those poking their heads above the ground, but if you have any shrubs in your garden, or trees with thin branches - keep an eye on the amount of snow, and if it starts to look heavy, go out and gently shake the snow from the boughs - it can save you a fortune (and heartbreak) if the snow gets too heavy and breaks a branch off!
REMEMBER: ST VALENTINE’S DAY
St. Valentine’s Day - 14th February, is fast approaching. If you are wanting to buy flowers for that special person in your life, do your best to buy British blooms! People often buy roses for Valentine’s Day, but there are lots of beautiful alternatives available, which have been grown right here in the UK! Daffodils and narcissi from the Scilly Isles are a great example, or even British hyacinths, or tulips - they look stunning, they smell amazing, and they haven’t had to travel thousands of miles to get to your Valentine!