Here I am, rushing in at the last minute and skidding to a halt with my simple offering for Cathy’s weekly gathering of vases. I wasn’t sure I’d have anything to show you but I quite like these spare, pared-back tulips and hope you do too. They’re not looking as they should. Sadly, they were victims of the storm last week – snapped off before they’d reached their glorious flowering prime. I couldn’t bear to compost them, so I popped them in some water to see if they’d recover and colour-up. Their colour isn’t developing – these are Princess Irene and should look like this – but they’re interesting nonetheless. I’m fascinated by the way the stems have gone all curly. Happily there are other tulips left standing in the garden and they should be looking gorgeous in a couple of weeks.
The tomato seeds I planted on 13th March are growing merrily on the kitchen windowsill and the greenhouse is full of mini summer-blooms-in-the-wings. It fills my heart with gladness to witness their perky growth and I’ll fill any spare moments potting on over the next few weeks.
We visited Great Dixter last week. It’s one of those magical places, with an organic design feel, and all rustic with beautiful old buildings (part of the house dates from Tudor times) and glorious gardens. I’ve been once before for a one-day course – Succession Planting in the Mixed Border – which was a Christmas present from David several years ago. I remember it as a brilliantly inspirational day with a talk by head gardener Fergus Garrett in the great hall of the house followed by a tour around the gardens with him and the other gardeners and I’ve wanted to go back ever since. It was wonderful to wander around the gardens and see it all again. Even though it’s early in the year, there was plenty to see and gardeners to chat to. One guy was up to his knees in mud tidying up the prehistoric-looking gunneras just starting to emerge from their winter sleep; others were planting out in the cutting garden and potting on seedlings. It’s a generous place where everyone is keen to share in their joy and knowledge of plants and gardening. It’s the kind of place that fires you up and fills your head with ideas.
It worked! The tomatoes obviously prefer the balmier climes of the kitchen window and have finally germinated. Once they’re all up, I’ll return them to the greenhouse and pot them on. The cucumbers are there growing well, as are the French beans and various flowers. We’ll soon be running out of space (and pots).
The weather has been wonderful here. Once the early morning fog has burned off, we’ve had three days of sunshine (albeit hazy today under the Saharan-sand smog cloud). Perfect Easter-holiday weather.
We had friends staying with us earlier in the week, so I took the opportunity to take them to nearby Walmer Castle. The hightlights for me were the glorious gardens – a formal garden with a large, rectangular pond and topiaried yews; a woodland walk; and a fabulous kitchen garden. I can’t believe it’s taken us almost three years to get round to visiting this lovely place. As it’s just up the road, I’m sure it’ll become a regular destination for inspiration.
With the children all busy (one ‘adventure training’ in Cornwall, one ‘resting’ after exerting ski trip, and the youngest happy pottering about) we’ve made the most of the weather and had two days of full-on gardening. Our mail-order strawberry plants arrived this morning inside a jiffy bag. Not quite what I was expecting!
Luckily we’d prepared the bed yesterday so we were ready to go. It was quite fiddly planting them – spreading out the roots and making sure the crowns were level with the top of the soil – but they’re all in. There are 12 mid-season fruiting (‘Alice’) and 12 late (Vibrant), so hopefully we’ll have some fruits this summer and a bumper crop next year.
It’s the village spring show tomorrow. We don’t have any suitable named varieties of flowers or veg to enter the show classes (competition is quite hot!), so I’m entering the beginner’s flower arranging class and my daughter is entering a posy. Our entries have to be at the village hall by 10am sharp, so we’ll be out in the garden early in the morning to see what we can find.
PS Thanks to my lovely sister-in-law for showing me how to insert photos into my blog posts!