Holding on for spring

Bunch of daffodils

Finally, there’s a warmth on the breeze. The world is waking earlier and earlier, and all over the garden the daffodils are singing, shoots are shooting, bulbs are popping their greeny growth above the soil and the forget me nots are sprouting up in every corner and crevice, ready to bloom.

And I’m not ready! E is now six and a half months old, and whilst we’re getting into a routine of sorts, I’m still finding it so hard to eke out a spare moment here and there. My seed packets were purchased in earnest in the darker months of winter, but there’s been no sowing, no planting, no potting on at all. My social media feeds are full of pictures of greenhouses bursting to the brim with seed module trays, sprouting onion sets and the lanky but lush growth of sweet peas.

But my garlic is still in packets, the potatoes are solemnly chitting on the windowsill and I have an abundance of spring flowers just waiting to be potted up to brighten the steps outside the kitchen door.

Hell, I even have trees and raspberry canes waiting to go in the ground. That is not good! Argh!

I really need to get a grip. Just an hour here and there should do it, but I’ve been so busy, and so full of cold. So I’m asking – as much as I want spring to arrive, could she please, please just hang on for a week or two whilst I (pardon my French) get my shit together.

I’ll do better, I promise…

Polyanthus, daffodils ready for potting on

In the meantime, look at these pretty little polyanthus primroses! These, along with the dwarf daffs and irises, will adorn the steps by kitchen door to create a little bit of spring cheer.

dwarf iris

I tend to opt for a more muted colour palette when it comes to polyanthus, steering away from the vivid purples, reds and bright yellows in favour of warm and soothing hues. And once the plants and bulbs have finished, I pop them out under the deciduous fruit trees, to help create a bigger and better spring display each year.


Dwarf daffodils in spring

Tete a tete daffodils emerging under the fruit trees each spring

The tete-a-tete daffodils now spring up in a carpet under the damson, followed by some later-flowering and paler-coloured varieties, as well as primroses, polyanthus, cowslips and oxlip. A couple of years ago I added some english bluebells, but have yet to see them flower. Here’s hoping.

Primroses and daffodils

Spring pots from previous seasons; warmer, serene colour schemes more in tune with nature

And here’s hoping to a spare hour and and there in the next fortnight.

Checking In

Autumn acer leaves

Six weeks have passed and I’ve thought so many times about digging out the laptop and tapping away on a blog post. But somehow I never quite find the time. Baby E is now 11 1/2 weeks old and although we’re getting more sleep time at night, she dominates the days. And so she should. She is just amazing.

But here I am. Tapping away whilst arms and legs flail in front of me. E is refusing to nap and instead is wiggling around on her tummy on my tummy, practising holding her little fluffy head up, cooing and laughing with twinkly blue eyes at something random on the wall behind me. I think she might be finding the light fitting funny. It’s usually a good 10 minutes’ worth of amusement each day, until she remembers she has hands and tries to stuff them into her mouth for the next half an hour.

Hogwarts shoes and Autumn leaves

Suffice to say, my good life-ing journey has been taking a little sabbatical whilst I navigate motherhood. There are days that are so busy, yet I lie in bed at night wondering what on earth I’ve actually done. To say that my Smallest Smallholding has been neglected is an understatement.

Veg and flower border

The borders are going over, looking a bit sad and neglected

But two days ago I had a mini victory when I managed to wheel E out in the garden in the pushchair, get her to settle and sleep whilst I raked barrow loads of autumnal leaves. I’ve got garlic and shallots waiting in the wings to be planted but that’s going to take some coordination, on a day when Rich isn’t working. Which is a rarity at the moment.

I’m doing small things in snatches and it’s helping me stay rooted and not get lost in nappies, muslins and milk. I’ve baked an apple tart and bought a small bag of compost to pot up the winter pansies and cyclamen for the back door.

Whether I get around to actually doing everything on my To Do List… well, that’s another story altogether.

Got to sign off, E is yelling and the leg action has kicked up a notch.

Roses for a cottage garden

Harkness Chandos Beauty

Harkness Chandos Beauty

After reading The Rose Girls by Victoria Connelly, I’ve experienced a renewed interest in roses. Growing up, we always had the odd rose planted here and there, and Nannie, Pappa and Mum definitely had their favourites. But reading such descriptive narrative that brought the rose scents, colours and blooms to life really got me thinking, wondering and wishing I had more of this classic cottage garden plant to enjoy.

Lark Ascending rose

Lark Ascending rose

One of my favourite roses is my Lark Ascending rose, aptly named after my absolute favourite classical piece of musical by Vaughan Williams.

Lark Ascending rose bush

Lark Ascending rose bush

When they first open, the blooms look as though they are almost illuminated from within, with a warm glow that pales and brightens as the petals age.

Lark Ascending rose in bloom

Lark Ascending rose in bloom

The Smallest Smallholding is also home to Ena Harkness, Golden Showers, New Dawn, Paul’s Himalayan Musk and a Buff Beauty amongst a few other hidden gems in the rambling patchwork that makes up my garden borders.

Golden Showers

Golden Showers

And I confess, I know next to nothing about roses, and apart from the Lark Ascending I’ve let my roses go leggy over the years owing to the fact that I haven’t the foggiest about proper pruning techniques. But I’m willing to learn.

Unknown variety - any suggestions?

Unknown variety – any suggestions?

After visiting RHS Chelsea earlier this year and being thoroughly impressed by the Harkness stand, I discovered that this famed rose producer is actually located just a 25 minute drive from home. A couple of visits later and I’m now the proud owner of a Harkness Chandos Beauty, with my eye on the pollinator-friendly Simple Life and Simple Gold, as well as Penny Lane (couldn’t resist a Beatles reference, and a beautiful rose). I also love the fact that Eve Harkness rose has been bred especially for The Eve Project… definitely one for the shopping list when I’ve got a few pennies together.

I’m now looking to explore a few English gardens to get some ideas together for planting schemes and designs – Sissinghurst is on the list and with Rich’s family based in Kent, we could easily make a day of it. Got any must-visit rose gardens you think I should head to? Let me know in the comments 🙂