Never apologize. Never explain. Just get the thing done, and let them howl – Agnes MacphailI confess that for the last 10 months my muse has been locked in the cupboard while I have been pre-occupied with other matters. I will not bore you with the details but you will discover what I have been doing as the changes at the croft are slowly revealed. Managing change can be difficult, it is always time consuming, but ” if you are going to walk through hell, keep going” (Winston Churchill).
Hebridean winters are a ceaseless merry-go-round of Atlantic depressions, which bring strong winds and squalls, dreich grey days and occasionally a glimpse of sunshine. This New Year started with sunshine and a surprise. In the autumn of 2017 I planted my surplus bulbs in one of the fruit cages, mainly as an interim measure while I decided what to do with them and to see how the tulips, irises and crocuses would cope with our often plowtery spring weather. Last spring they produced some flowers and the tulips did particularly well, enough to produce some cut flowers for the house. During the summer I managed to scatter a little general purpose fertiliser in their direction, otherwise they were neglected and disappeared under a mound of chickweed and hairy bittercress. So this year I was not expecting too much, and was planning to lift the bulbs, replenish the soil with some garden compost and seaweed. I was therefore amazed, or to use the local vernacular “gobsmacked”, to see a large clump of iris “Katherine Hodgkin” in flower on New Year’s day. Hitherto, I had only grown these lovely bulbs in pots in the greenhouse, where they would flower for a while before succumbing to one of the viruses which seems to afflict Iris reticulata. I am not sure whether it was the outdoor conditions or the period of hot dry weather which “baked” the bulbs last summer, whatever the reason, I am encouraged and will try a small clump in one of the more sheltered parts of the rock garden.
Since then the weather has been mild and particularly oorlich, but so far we’ve been spared the storm force winds. It has been too wet to do anything outside other than pause for a minute to admire the snowdrops in the orchard on the way to the compost, but as the days are starting to get a little longer it is time to get the polytunnel ready for early spring planting. So for now my gardening endeavours are limited to weeding between the over-wintering you rows of spinach, beetroot and fennel and sowing a few rows of early carrots, yet more spinach and some rocket. Although it is very mild, the days are still too short to facilitate any real growth, but next month as the days lengthen the plants will begin to respond to the increasing light levels.
After all these years I still experience the excitement of the start of a new gardening year, planning which vegetables I am going to grow and browsing through the seed catalogues. New Years’s resolutions are not a problem, I just recycle last years to try a little harder with my gardening.
Happy New Year.