Waterford, south-east Ireland. Saturday, 27th March 2021
The title is borrowed from a new book from Thames & Hudson which they describe as “an uplifting manifesto in which David Hockney and his long-time friend Martin Gayford reflect on our extraordinary period of confinement, and art’s capacity to divert and inspire.” Of course, those who are reading here might well be inclined to suggest that for us it is gardening which has the capacity to divert and inspire.
We are a year into the restrictions imposed by the Covid19 pandemic – I emphasise that the restrictions are imposed by the virus and not by the government for I listen with annoyance to the many who complain about these restrictions as though they were imposed at a whim to cause inconvenience when they are simply for protection and the health of the nation. I cannot say other than they were a huge inconvenience, a disruption to life as we had become used to living it. Small things bring it to mind: I had an appointment yesterday to have an X-ray taken and we realised we didn’t have coins to pay for the parking – the pay station at the hospital doesn’t take notes nor cards – and we recalled that we hadn’t used cash for over a year. All our shopping in this past year has been online!
Days out are a thing of the past – no days to visit gardens, no train journeys to Dublin to walk the town, visit the shops, enjoy lunch, no walks at home as the nearby walkway is far too busy to be safe in our opinion, no travel to visit favourite places, no hugging grandchildren, no playing with them or listening to their stories and on and on goes the list of inconveniences and annoyances goes. Thankfully, in parallel, life in the garden continues with no recognition of the existence of this virus. Nature continues, spring cannot be cancelled, and we should be very grateful for that simple fact. We have our gardens, little havens of sanity and normality in the midst of this chaos, and this is a wonderful time in the garden as new growth and fresh flowers seem almost to bound ahead with each successive day. Thank goodness for them!
Now, all this airy fairy talk about gardening is all very well; it’s a harmless enough pastime but it won’t get very much done on the ground; one has to get out there and get a shift on things! So, I did a bit. The grass was cut but trimming the edges was halted midway when the strimmer gave up the ghost – it is on its way back to the retailer with the promise of a refund if it is confirmed as beyond repair. I had only received it last June as a replacement for the one purchased the previous October – perhaps the battery-powered Black & Decker cordless strimmer is not the one for me!
There was a shredding session and the following addition to the compost heap – which I topped off with a few inches of last year’s compost as we intend using it to grow pumpkins during the summer. I spent a while on my knees – the nearest I ever get to praying, Mary says, as I weeded and freshen under the hedges around the garden. An area of paving which led to the chicken run, which is gone for several years, was lifted and relaid in several other areas. There were enough slabs to make a path alongside an area used to hold potted plants and a cold frame, some others at the door of the shed and others as an edging to a bed. A few newly arrived plants were put into the ground and some new snowdrops, held in pots for the last month or so, were planted out.
I got a new camera and lens during the week and yesterday morning was my first opportunity to try it out. As I was not yet familiar with the workings of the camera I opted to simply shoot on “Auto” and it produced results of shocking contrast and colour saturation so I will not be returning to “Auto” again. After a reading of the manual, I gave it another try with slightly better results. The third attempt was acceptable and further adjustments to the settings had me back with passable results by afternoon. So, here are my shots from yesterday morning:
The outstanding plant in the garden at the moment, without any doubt, is Trillium chloropetalum. My plant came from that great and most generous of gardener’s, the late Bob Gordon, and it was the first trillium that grew with vigour for me. It has been divided several times over the years, and several pieces passed on to others, and has now made a good clump.
Muscari armeniacum can become a weed in the garden as it multiplies and self-seeds vigorously. It took us several years to remove it from a bed where it had become rampant. However, it is a good blue and a very welcome plant in the garden when it can be coaxed into behaving itself by planting in a position where it doesn’t have the freedom to spread without limits. There are also several other muscaris which are attractive garden plants.
The reminders of Christmases past are around the garden, tucked under shrubs and trees, where they flower year after year. These hyacinths were originally bought as treated bulbs which could be forced into flower in time for Christmas and, afterwards, were planted out into the garden. It struck me today that it is peculiar that we never cut the flowers to bring indoors given that we appreciate their fragrance so much at Christmas.
Ipheoin uniflorum is another of those bulbs which can increase at a wonderful rate. I think they are at their best planted right in against the base of trees and shrubs, a position where little else will thrive. In that position, they will flower before the foliage comes on the overhead tree/shrub and the foliage will hardly be noticeable later in the year. I used grow a few named cultivars but they have become mixed up over the years and now can only identify ‘Wisley Blue’ with confidence – you will notice the blue flowers:
Erythroniums have been a heartbreak this year. To date, only two cultivar – ‘Purple King’ and ‘Susannah’ have managed to show their flowers and I believe it may well be my darling pheasants who are picking off the flowers. I may make mutterings of roast pheasant but may settle for withholding their peanut treats for a few days.
Finally, just because I’m still playing with the new camera – another run around the garden!
I’m sharing this blog with a group of fellow bloggers who contribute to a “Six on Saturday” theme which is hosted by “The Propagator”. To read more contributions go to The Propagator’s entry for today, scroll down to the comments and you will find other bloggers have posted links to their Saturday entries there. Lots to read!