March certainly has come in “like a lion.” The weather feels raw, the wind blowing with a sandpaper edge, temperatures nipping at exposed skin. For some reason, these blustery days feel angry, like a tempestuous toddler, compared to the more frigid yet serene frosty mornings we braved for our walks during January and February. It may also be that my patience is wearing thin.
But even as the wind makes my chimney moan like a banshee and rattles the trees so they sound more like waves crashing on a shore, I have to remind myself to hold tight – the signs of spring are abundant in the garden. And the hardiest and bravest of plants are giving it their all.
They look like they are shivering as they tremble in the breeze. Their natural colour outdoes the gaudy pots that hold them.
The raspberries are unfurling. Their leaves looking suitcase crinkled after being packed away for winter. It’s hard to imagine the soft fruit that will drip from these branches and the taste of them exploding on the tongue – but it will happen as sure as morning follows night.
The elder flower bush has even unpacked it’s buds in tiny little baubles of hope – how courageous! The birdsong in the garden is at fever pitch too with the promise of new life.
Lupin is like a miracle plant to my mind. At the height of summer, it had brilliant blue and pink flower spikes five feet tall. These die back, then the leaves die and the plant disappears all the way back to the soil. Each year I panic a little. I wonder will I need to buy a replacement plant and then as if from nowhere the lupin makes a comeback. I actually ‘love’ these plants for the joy and refuelling of hope they provide each year, not to mention their beauty in full bloom. The crocus in front gives you an idea of how small the lupin is at this stage.
And there’s these purple sprouting broccoli – finally producing something worth eating.
They have taken so long to sprout, planted with the other seedlings last spring, I was expecting to have harvested them by last September. It was the first time I’d grown them her,e and I hadn’t realised they were an overwintering variety. In California, they would have kept me in veg all summer and winter – or what passes for winter in California. At this time of year in San Jose, there would be fields of wildflowers. The Ceanothus would be in full bloom alongside the poppies. But here I have just tiny purple nubs that promise a show of lilac flowers in the warmer months.
Around now in California, I’d be watching my tomatoes and pepper seedlings grow. There would be lettuce ready to eat and peas and peaches blossoming. Here my peas (the ones that germinated quickly and caught me by surprise) and peaches are undercover for their own protection.
The peach is espaliered and hasn’t actually produced anything other than foliage since it was planted two years ago. Last winter, I protected it against leaf-curl like this and it did better. This year there are pinkish swellings that may blossom… here’s hoping. Add that to the list – there’s so much to hope for these days, isn’t there?
But here, I’m over the moon with the germination of my sunflower seeds this week. That something so small will be six feet tall in a matter of months!
The ‘nursery’ is in full swing with seedlings.
Working from front to back we have cauliflower, brussel sprouts (a family favourite, even with my nephews surprisingly!) and marigolds. Right at the back-left is shop bought basil and to the right spider-plant babies.
On other window sills throughout the house, I have managed to germinate allysum, petunia, lobelia, sweetpea and (my pride and joy) passion fruit vine.
And already some plants on the back doorstep for hardening off – sugar snap peas, thyme, marigolds and allysum. I feel so sorry for these babies having to harden off in this mad March weather.
Gardening is such an exercise of faith. You bury dead-looking pellets (seeds) and they bring forth life. Barren twigs swell at the tips and burst into leaf and bloom. Bulbs and tubers hidden in the depths of cold, wet soil send green spears to the surface, followed by coloured cups and frilly blossom that will feed bees and butterflies. What a wonder filled world we live in! And sometimes all we have to do is notice…