What a difference a month makes? That said there has been a scent of it for weeks. Against the backdrop of the crisis, nature has put on an extraordinary show. The cherries have been magnificent, the forsythia glowed, and the tulips have brought real joy. I have a sentimental connection with them and try to plant more each year as a teasing salute to my late Dad. My Mum had tulips in her wedding bouquet and each anniversary my Dad would send her a bunch, but he never got the colour right, travelling through every shade of pink and of course Mum always had to tell him of his failure. I suspect as the shades grew ever darker, he was just making mischief.
With time on our hands there will be a high expectation of glorious displays as more folk take to the garden. With some shortage of resources, we have the chance to play and to savour the detail, to be more meticulous. I take great joy from turning ground and then working it with my fingers to see off rogue weeds and the roots of bindweed and of couch. The reconnection at the basic level brings immense pleasure. Humour me, cultivate a two foot square and work it with your fingers to remove everything that you don’t want to be there. Then plant something in the space and monitor its celebration of your commitment. If you have seed then sow them, no matter how old the packet, you’ll get something and if you have access to plants then as the month moves forward plant with confidence. Hold back the most tender, cucumbers and marrows will not enjoy cold nights and hold on to runner beans plants until the middle of the month, but all the leaf vegetables can go out. On the flower front the same rules apply, so hold onto busy lizzies, begonias and marigolds for as long as you can. Pop into the garden in the evening and smell the air as gardeners have done for decades, you’ll soon get a feel for change.
If you don’t have access to seed or new plants, then play with what you have. Prune to create shape, harvest your pruning to create structures. Willow, cornus, hazel and beech can all be used as plant supports (gardeners have not always had access to canes).
And finally, enjoy rediscovering the still and bird song at all hours. Look to a sky free from the streak of jet trails.
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