For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Monday, 22 April 2013

Kind Of Spring

When we moved into our hundred-year-old house fourteen years ago, we knew the garden would eventually need some serious reconstruction. It had been neglected by the previous owners for decades. Everything was the matter with it. Trees and bushes grew in the wrong places and were too crowded together. The pond was matted with dense vegetation and strangled with interlocking roots and pine cones. Ground elder, cleavers and other vigorous and pervasive weeds had taken over the borders and the shrubberies. The lawn was a ragged carpet of moss and dandelions. We struggled over the years to keep on top of things. With both of us working, this was a difficult task.

Cut to a year ago when at long last we were able to start hacking back the wilderness. A Corsican pine which was squeezing everything else out of the garden had to be felled. (It's sad to cut down a tree, but this variety is common in the countryside round here, and they are hardly garden trees anyway.) The leaking pond at its foot was relined and re-edged. The lawn was extended and returfed. The weeds were attacked. A new patio was laid. And much else. 

We didn't do a lot in the garden over winter, and have been reluctant to do much so far during this year's so-called spring. It's just been so cold and windy. And of course there's still a huge amount to do: potatoes to plant, beds to dig and compost, perennials to establish. There's always something to do in a garden.

It's no news to anyone that spring has come much later than normal this year. In fact it barely seems to have arrived here in the English Midlands. According to photographic and other records it's about a month behind. Plants need several days of continuous warmth as a signal for them to bud and flower with abandon. But the days have been cold with north-easterly winds, late snowfalls and little sun.

I heard a cuckoo a week ago, but the willow warblers and chiffchaffs have yet to land. The blackthorn's snow-white blossom has been on show for a week, and dandelions are popping up, but I saw the first daisies only this afternoon. There's a great crop of grape hyacinths, but the cherry tree seemed to flower then fade in a jiffy. Some of our daffodils and tulips are out, but others not...


Today I managed to cut the grass, and to plant three rhododendrons and a pieris, but was glad to scurry back indoors to coffee and the computer. (Incidentally, I was pleased to see quite a few bees flying over the lawn, which I identified as mining bees, and found some of their burrowed nests in the cropped turf.)

I'm now looking through the study window at yards of empty earth waiting to be colonised, jazzed up, beautified. No doubt it will happen in nature's own good time. Meanwhile, there are always pots of gaudy primulas to lift the spirits...              


I've read that when spring finally does arrive in all its glory, it will be short but intensely vibrant and stunningly colourful. We can but hope...

5 comments:

George said...

Our spring has been vacillating between sunny days in the seventies to cloudy, blustery days (like today) in the lower fifties. Regardless of the weather, however, I find the prospect of new growth puts the spring (no pun intended) back into my step. I, too, have been spending quite a bit of time working in the yard, and, frankly, I find it very therapeutic (at least until the lower back starts aching).

Gail said...

Hi - great pictures of your gardening. You will reap all the rewards. Spring has eluded us here as well, last night we had to bring in all of our newly planted plants and herbs because a frost was predicted and it happened! Wont get above 60 degrees all week and the nights will dip in to the 40's but at least it will stay above freezing. Phew..
Happy Spring sorta :-)
Love Gail
peace.....

Ruth said...

Same here, Robert. The bitterly cold winds have lasted for months, and just when we think we're going to get a break, another blast comes with snow. We are flooded here after torrential rains the last couple of weeks. But this past weekend really felt like it might be spring, and we worked in the garden too. Let's hope it is glorious when it finally blooms, as they say. I trust that you'll show us the fruits of your labors. I planted a pieris a couple of years ago that isn't doing so well, I think I might need to move it.

pilgrimpace said...

and, of course, it is the centenary of Edward Thomas' 'In Pursuit of Spring'"

"It is not yet spring. Spring is being dreamed, and the dream is more wonderful and blessed than ever was spring."

Andy

The Solitary Walker said...

George, my back and limbs have been aching too!

Thanks, Gail... thanks, Ruth... Ruth, is your pieris in plenty of humus-rich soil and ericaceous compost? They like acidic soil, but I'm sure you know that!

Andy, that's a wonderful line! 'Spring is being dreamed...'