It’s been a funny old week, with nothing playing out as normal. Of course it has turned distinctly chilly. So I’ve had to fleece the plants in the cold greenhouse twice so far and brought in one pot of rooted salvia cuttings as an insurance. Road closures and huge traffic delays meant I couldn’t get south to visit my parents before taking Sadie, the dog, in for an operation to remove a couple of lumps on her head. She’s come out of the experience with one of those dreadful (but useful) stiff plastic cones round her head. Two days down the line and she still doesn’t appreciated that her turning circle has increased dramatically, that she must centre her approach to doorways and that she can’t stuff her nose in things on the ground. Unhappily, the surgery on her eye is proving a bit touchy, with a possible infection starting. We’ve been back to the vets and she is now on antibiotics. We’ve been asked to return on Monday and Friday. Fingers-crossed meantime.
Anyhow, this has meant that I’ve been wandering around the garden with her instead of going for long walks. So I’ve been able to notice some nice things showing a lot of spring promise.
One: Hazel catkins and flowers
Yes, the catkins have unfurled already (truthfully some trees have been shaking out their tails for at least a couple of weeks), but this week I’ve started to see the tiny little red female flowers emerge. I’ve not coppiced the trees at the back of the vegetable plot this winter yet and I hate doing it with the flowers out, so I might skip it this year. Luckily I had a good clear out of old stems last year in any case.
Two: Dwarf Comfrey
We have a big patch of dwarf/creeping comfrey (Symphytum grandiflorum) in front of our oil tank where it provides good ground coverage, but can’t spread any further. Since I’d been checking levels this week I noticed that this plant is already in coming into flower. This is a great plant for early emerging bees who make good use of its nectar. It’s where I usually see the first bumblebees of the year and it looks as if it will be ready for them very soon.
Three: Mini Orchids
I was given a pair of tiny pots containing what I was told were mini orchids a couple of years ago. I’d never heard of mini orchids before and I just assumed that they were babies sold early as a gimmick next to cashier tills. I’ve watered them occasionally and they’ve put out larger new leaves, but otherwise I’ve ignored them. Well apparently they are a real thing and like to be less watered and fertilized than their standard-sized cousins. Great! Possibly that is why this week I noticed that they are rewarding me with flowers, so I will get to see what kind of orchid they actually are (from the leaves I suspect phalaenopsis). Any guesses?
I know that primroses can be in flower from December onwards, but this whole dome of pink is looking well advanced. Unfortunately it is growing in the gravel driveway, where an awful lot of my self-seedlings preferentially choose to grow. It will need to be moved. I usually move primroses to the wild meadow area, but since this one is pink, which I avoid there, it will have to be the front garden.
Down in the vegetable plot there is quite a lot of clearance to be done still. Last week I noticed that each corner of the raised beds has accumulated a stash of skeletonized tomatillos husks. Each pod contains a rattling clump of seed. So I won’t need to buy any new seed, because these will germinate by themselves once the soil warms enough.
Six: Acrobatic blackbirds
The crab apple tree on our driveway remains a popular destination with the thrushes, pigeons and blackbirds throughout winter. But it is the blackbirds that have entertained me most of late, because as the number of apples has dwindled and the access to what is left has become more difficult, they have been demonstrating amazing feats of balance and gymnastics to reach their prizes. In contrast the wood pigeons seem to manage just by plonking themselves down and gorging.
So those are my Six for today, joining The Propagator who has an amazingly diverse selection of Gardening Things attached to his meme this Saturday. Take a look here.
Meanwhile, wrap up warm, get your tools for there is plenty to be done … Have fun.
P.S. If you get a chance on Sunday night (early Monday morning really) look out for the Super Blood Wolf Moon!! This will be the last total lunar eclipse viewable from Britain for the next ten years. It also coincides with a full moon with the moon on one of its closer orbits, so the moon face should look marginally bigger/clearer … and certainly red from passing through the earth’s shadow.