If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom. ~Terri Guillemets
A wander around the garden in April is one of the most pleasurable of moments. Looking for signs of life here and there is more exciting that one can admit to. With trepidation, I seek out fresh new growth in what began as a holding bed, but without effort is actually beginning to resemble the intention of a cottage garden. What has survived the bleakest of recent winters?
Either side of my front door hang a basket of blue violas. I prefer these to pansies as they seem to withstand the weather a little more. I cannot resist a quick sniff of them as I pass, deadheading if needed to prolong the flowering.
To one side of the door, lives this wall basket. Despite having some of it's coir lining 'borrowed' by the little sparrow for her nest, and Mrs Nutkin occasionally digging them out, it puts on a marvelous display of purple violas. On the side furthest away, a bi-coloured viola has sneaked in...lets keep it our little secret eh?
Last Spring, I planted some Polyanthus below the clematis, and in a very narrow strip in the lea of the front boundary wall. I really didn't think these cheap and cheerful dandies would survive to flower another year, but once the ground began to warm up, I was pleasantly surprised.
This little lady was my biggest worry over the winter. Dicentra spectabilis. Also known as 'Bleeding Heart', 'Dutchman's Breeches' or rather delicately 'Lady in the bath' (I think you have to turn the flower upside-down). I bought her last Spring, and with the late start to the season this year, I was beginning to fear the freezing temperatures had claimed her.
But as you can see, she has come through it's icy grip and gone on to flirt with us once more. This is one lady I don't mind The Man That Can to admire...in fact I encourage it!
I'm a big believer of sharing plants. In fact many of my plants have been shared with neighbours, friends and family, and vice-versa. It is useful in fact, as most perennials need dividing from time to time to keep them growing strongly and healthily.
Take this Bergenia (Elephant's Ears) for instance. It came from Grandad. For a few months, it lived in a container of garden soil. It was just a chunk taken from it's parent. The first year in the garden, it just put down roots. The second year it's leaves began to beef up, and this year it has flowered for us. Ok so they're not everyone's cup of tea, but I rather like it, and since we daren't try to grow hosta's in our slug-and-snail infested garden, it becomes a useful foil in amongst the hustle and bustle of a cottage garden. Another handy use for it is it becomes a snail hotel on a warm day, and over winter. Take along a bucket and collect them up, dispose as you see fit. Oh, and I've even bought another to go with it, but it is still very much in it's infancy.
Many perennials are the same, every couple of years, dig up the clumps, chop them up, and re-plant them, sharing them with your friends, family and neighbours. Everyone's happy!
Down the side of the house runs a narrow bed. I haven't done an awful lot with this, but each Spring it is transformed into a sea of blue Muscari armeniacum (grape hyacinth). These are so easy to grow that even Mrs Nutkin can do it...and often does. She has a tendancy to dig them up in the winter and bury them elsewhere, which makes the verges around our property quite a colourful place. And don't they multiply!
This is the first year that our narcissi and muscari haven't flowered together - our narcissi are going over now, just as the muscari are going at it full pelt.
The pots of bulbs are going strong too. I spotted (or should that be 'checked') this little fella peeking out of the fading hyacinths. A wee Snake's Head Fritillary.
And in the other, Cheery yellow tulips.