I rarely manage to participate in Cathy’s In a Vase on Monday meme, but sometimes I feel sufficiently inspired to make a modest contribution. As you can see I am a founder member of the “plonked naturally in a jam jar” school of flower arranging.
Although my small bunch of “daffs” may not have great artistic merit, apart from their intrinsic beauty, they are filling the house with the most sublime perfume.
Narcissi are the stalwarts of the cottage garden from February to May. Tete-a-tete is always first to flower and was the first bulb to be planted in the cottage garden. It came from my garden in Worcestershire along with the jonquil (alas un-named) which also appears in my vase.
In the orchard and the cottage garden the cyclamineus narcissi, Little Witch, Jack Snipe and Jet Fire, are already fading, but the triandus varieties, Hawera and Thalia are still to flower. There are also other un-named daffodils which flower year after year in the cottage garden which delight the eye and perfume the air regardless of their unknown provenance.
More delicate species are cosseted in the alpine house until we have sufficient stock to try them in the garden. N. bulbicodium will be planted out this summer, and if it flowers it will be a delightful addition to the garden. N. assoanus was planted in the garden last year, but it will probably take a little while to establish. This also came from my last garden, but I am not sure whether it will flower this far north. A native of Spain it needs a good summer baking to flower, not a regular feature of Hebridean summers. However, N. canaliculatus is reputedly also difficult to flower, but seems to produce some flowers every year despite the rigors of our climate. Sometimes the plants don’t follow the rules, so it is always worth a try.
At last the polytunnel has been repaired and we’re ready to garden again. After being exposed to the elements for two months a major clean-up was required. This mainly involved shovelling up sand and wind-blown debris, fortunately the local starling flock preferred the warmth of my neighbours cow shed as a roost. The accumulation of assorted pots, containers, labels and old bamboo poles was ruthlessly sorted along with the bits and pieces of junk which “might be useful one day” but never are. The polytunnel has not looked so clean and organised for more years than I care to admit to. So with a new propagator, lids for trays and a big envelope of new seeds I am all set to start gardening again.
Unfortunately none of my winter crops survived, apart from a few sad-looking carrots and some parsley. So this year the “hungry gap” is going to be longer and leaner than usual. My first sowings of mizuna, radish, winter salad leaves and winter purslane have germinated but it will be a while before I can even think about feasting on micro-leaves, nevermind a green salad. It will be even longer before the baby spinach is ready and not much hope of some beetroot or fennel until June. However, anticipation is everything and I promise not to complain about a glut of anything due to my over enthusiastic sowing of everything at once.
Most of my over-wintering herbs were only fit for the compost, and the surviving six very small sage plants and a rosemary are not going to have much impact in the herb garden. So my plans for introducing some discipline and order into the cottage herbery are in abeyance. Once again it will be a riotous assembly of chives, fennel, mint and buckler-leaved sorrel with self-sown Calendula, nasturtiums, and borage fighting it out with the fennel and carraway. Perhaps a beautifully arranged physic garden would not be quite right for the cottage garden where the main design feature is plant anarchy.The herbaceous plants and bulbs were nearly all rescued, and whilst some look a little the worse for wear, after a period of intensive care they will eventually be moved into the borders or containers. The Agapanthus look a little sulky, but the scented-leaved pelargoniums are already producing flower buds and enough shoots to enable me to take cuttings. Alas the salvias joined the herbs in the compost.
There is definitely no procrastination in the garden and all this hyper-activity will doubtless result in the predictable logjam of seedlings waiting to be potted on and young plants needing to be hardened-off. Our ancient cold frames have also been repaired which will provide some additional space, provided of course I don’t buy any more seeds.