Hyacinth, Delft Blue, April 2002

Above: Hyacinth "Delft Blue"

Garden diary: March

1 April 2002

As I'm writing this, at 7.30pm, a rainbow fills the sky above the garden, after April's first "April Shower". The leaves are brilliant green under pink-tinted sky. The blackbird has just finished his melodic nightly song. The trees against the sky are suddenly full of fattening buds.

This week I have been mostly looking at . . .

- and smelling - a pot of blue hyacinths (pictured at the top of this page). Such gaudy flowers, and flowerheads so heavy that the stalks can barely hold them. But what an excellent scent.

Goldfinches, eating the seed from the feeder in the apple tree, and calling and singing from the branches.

Euphorbia mellifera - a statuesque plant, and about to flower this spring for the first time.

A pot of herbs - sage, thyme, golden-leaved oregano and chives, which made it through the winter damp and cold in a pot of very gritty compost, and are now beginning to grow afresh.

Akebia quinata - started flowering towards the end of March, and now full of bright green leaves and small purple flowers. Appears to have climbed into the cherry tree while I wasn't looking.

Dicentra spectabilis - a fine combination of gaudy colour and very graceful form. Relocated recently to a corner where it can grow to its fine full shape unencumbered, without getting in the way of the path.

New golden leaves on Philadelphus coranarius "Aureus".

Angelica archangelica - growing in a large tub in kitchen corner, where it is has thrown out huge new stems and appears to be trying to get in through the window.

Clematis arriving early

Looking at April journal entries from previous years, it seems that this year the early-flowering Clematis varieties - C. alpina and C. macropetala - are even-earlier-flowering Clematis, as the blue variety and "White Columbine" are opening today, and Clematis macropetala "Markham's Pink" is about to open, in the branches of the apple tree, where it has rather cleverly chosen to drape itself, as I was hoping it would.

Seed sowing

I've planted the perennials that remained in plastic pots, and seem to have some fair-sized gaps among this permanent planting. Of course, I think this every year, and always forget how quickly the gaps disappear when the perennials and shrubs grow during the later spring and summer months. Still, room to crowbar in a few more things, I'm sure.

I've been looking through my shoebox full of seed packets, wondering how many of these seeds are still viable - some of the packets being a few years old. I quite fancied the idea of tipping all these older seeds together into my hands and merely flinging them willy-nilly into the soil any-old-how, all mixed together, just to see what came up and where.

Instead though, I went for the more sedate route of carefully sowing a few of the more recently purchased varieties in designated areas. Nigella I particularly like, and have again sown the variety "Miss Jekyll", to add to my autumn sowing of Nigella, which, surprisingly, survived, and are healthy-looking seedlings.

Millennium Shed

The interior of Millennium Shed was painted over the Easter weekend, and is now a pale blue colour. It was going to be rather more greyish, but I got impatient and had to mix the paint myself from the available tins of emulsion in the cupboard.

Millennium Shed was remodelled in 1999, from an old brick outhouse which had stood conveniently (choice of words deliberate - it probably did at one time include the outdoor toilet) in our garden for around 100 years. After the part-demolition and rebuilding, my choice of paint colour was a strange mix of various paint effects, but predominantly yellow. As this was a few years ago, and because it's an outdoor building, it was looking a bit tatty, and bits of paint were peeling.

The floor is partly solid brick, but the other half was loose chippings. Originally gravel, later slate chippings, both used by all the cats in the neighbourhood as a large, conveniently roofed, litter tray. So the floor needed redoing too.

My initial enthusiasm for hard-landscaping has waned somewhat, and after removing the old "slate-chippings and cat poo" flooring, the easiest solution was to put down sand and cement mix, with a thin layer of chippings on top. These were then carefully jumped up and down on. Well, trodden gently, to press them into the cement mixture in a thin layer. Thereby looking like loose chippings, but rather more solid, and less likely to remind cats of cat litter. I hope.

Back to April highlights and diaries


Tulip Queen of the Night

Above: Tulip "Queen of the Night"

Garden diary: May