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.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 visit

botanic garden

Part of the Botanic Garden

This week I headed down to Sloane Square with my mum for this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The weather was a bit crap – overcast and pretty chilly for a late May day – but given the crowds I was actually quite pleased not to be in the glare of a hot sun!

First off we headed for the show gardens, and although at times given the volume of people it was hard to stop and ponder the planting, I really enjoyed the flowing, naturalistic planting schemes that seemed to prevail in the vast majority of the gardens. Wildflowers have definitely made a comeback, with ragged robin a popular choice, and it seemed most gardens were going for purples, whites and a variance on rusty orange or rusty pink.

I suppose just like fashion, preferences for planting are subject to trends. But I like this recent trend. Pollinating flowers like alliums and salvias were in evidence everywhere, as was a certain type of almost milk chocolate-coloured California Iris.

I think my favourite garden had to be the Botanic garden – not for its main feature, a glass house, but for one side of the garden that was planted up in a style that nodded to permaculture, with salvias, lupins, wild carrot, hyssop, beetroot, rhubarb, blackcurrant, gooseberry, french beans, nasturtiums, and all manner of fruit and veg crammed in together to create a bustling, thriving growing space. It definitely gave me lots of ideas for my own patch of the good life.

A close up from the Greening Grey Britain garden

A close up from the Greening Grey Britain garden

The Greening Grey Britain garden was also an inspiration, with some almost prairie-like planting with swathes of plants that are perfect for pollinators, wildflowers including ragged robin and aquilegia (another popular feature in many gardens this year), grasses, and some gorgeous rusty metal bird seed cups that I haven’t been able to locate anywhere! I love the idea of ‘Greening Grey Britain‘, an RHS scheme launched last year in a bid to overcome the paving over of front gardens, driveways and what could be thriving spaces for flora and fauna to reduce flooding, combat localised temperature rises and even subsidence. Want to make a contribution and bring colour and vitality back to the streets of Britain? Then visit the RHS site to make your promise.

So lots of ideas and inspiration, and armed with three new packets of seed (two types of pollinator-friendly Astrantia, and some white ragged robin), I’ve come away determined to make the Smallest Smallholding a living, breathing and productive oasis in my part of suburbia.

Natural planting schemes were everywhere!

Naturalistic planting schemes were everywhere!

Tulip cheer

Don Quixote tulip

We’ve had a couple of beautiful days here in Bedfordshire, but looking ahead it seems that we’ll be back to chilly temperatures and grey skies. But at least we’ve had the chance to enjoy a little bask in the sun, just as my tulips have this week.

Planting tulip bulbs in Autumn

Last autumn I threw a couple of bags of tulip bulbs in the ground, hoping to add a little more spring cheer into the long borders. I’m really pleased with our mini display, as the colour and vibrancy is a great antidote to the dull days we’ve had to encounter so far this spring.

orange tulips

But on the few sunny days we’ve had, the tulips have turned their faces to the sun and it almost looks as though, like us, they’ve been basking in its warmth.

Tulips in the border

If the grey, dank days of winter are like a sickness, spring flowers are like a soothing antidote. A remedy back to full health, long summer days full of warmth, light and the vivaciousness of nature in full bloom.

Tulip 'Shirley'