Five on Friday? Six on Saturday is popular, but would seven on Sunday be better? Now we are back at Miscellaneous Monday and it is really time that I up-dated the Croft Garden Diary. In mitigation I have finally finished adding all the entries from Volume I to the archive and now I have no excuse for not working more diligently on Volume II. However, I confess I have been dilly-dallying, as gardening has been replaced by sighing, waiting for the weather to improve and looking out of the window at the soggy, morass which was once my garden.
Now the weather has changed, the has wind dropped, the rain stopped, the clouds lifted and the sun has appeared. Where to start – plant the spring garlic, indulge in an orgy of seed sowing, prick-out the rhubarb seedings, repot the tarragon, tidy-up the pelagoniums or prune the lemon verbena? First a little procrastination is required. There is nothing like a walk on the beach to blow away the winter cobwebs and start to plan the Spring Gardening Campaign.
First I need a tour of the estate to assess the extent of the damage from a winter that has been persistently wet and windy, even by Hebridean standards. I can usually find a nosegay of primroses tucked away in the quiet corner, but I’ve had to work hard to find a handful of even the hardiest snowdrops. The delicate blue flowers of the winter squill, Scilla siberica, are just starting to appear in the orchard, but as yet there is just a solitary Narcissus ‘Tête á Tête’ – perhaps the others will arrive soon?
The vegetable beds are looking forlorn, just the toughest survivors persist to delay the arrival of inevitable hungry gap. The wonderful knobbly celeriac now have a top-knot of green, reminding me that they have to be lifted and stored. The dwarf curly kale hunkers under a veil of soggy enviromesh, its frilly leaves sparkling with rain drops, inviting us to “eat our greens”. Fortunately the greenhouse and polytunnel help to “keep the wolf from the door” providing a safe haven for winter vegetables, salads and the early spring crops.
However, man cannot live on bread alone, and in the dark winter months, the lean-to-garden is often a source of floral delights and surprises. Once again we had an early visit from the widow, but this year there were five flowers.
As spring approaches and the days lengthen, it is easy to be seduced by the promise of some fine weather and indulge in a frenzy of gardening activity. Alas too often all the hard work and endeavour can vanish with the cruel touch of a late frost or a northerly gale. So I am practising some Hebridean Zen and cultivating the art of procrastination.