Oh heaven! The garden's starting to bloom
Daphne odora aureomarginata
Oh heaven, my divine Daphne odora aureomarginata has started to bloom. The first tiny clumps of waxy reddish violet flowers with white throats are pretty enough but it's their scent, heavily aromatic and citrus - almost addictive and which on warm days perfumes my front garden.
My Chimonanthus, Wintersweet is fading now, the Cornus mas is past full bloom and the sheets of crocus are less intense under the hazels whose cakins hang brown and limp. More glorious is my winter honeysuckle which on warm days is being visited by a few honeybees so some are still around.
My Mahonias, I've several self-grown specimens, are bursting with huge masses of fat blooms as are the winter Viburnums, all really is rather glorious. Even the weeds are blooming with red dead-nettles, abuzz with early humble bees, the blue speedwells and the yellow celandines. I've many clumps of sweet violets, so lovely to smell, (I adore them, add petals to salads and make a liqueur).
It's all such a picture. I've seen a number of ladybirds sunning themselves and a brace of pigeons cooing in my walnut tree. But March often turns around and ends bitterly cold again. Anyway it's been mild; my soil has been workable so I've planted out the last of the garlic sets, 'Flavour'; and 'Sicilian Red', some shallot sets, 'Longor' (amongst my strawberry plants) and two beds of onion sets. All of these were previously rooted in wee cells so they could be easily popped out into dibbed holes. It was noticeable how 'Jet Set' were nowhere near as well rooted as 'Sturon' sets. And also how much root was formed by all before the top had grown at all. Indeed we often accuse the birds and worms of pulling out sets; but under cover in their trays of cells I've watched sets push themselves up and over on stilt like roots.
My first indoor potato plants, 'Rocket' and 'Dunluce', are looking good and have been moved, doubled up, into big tubs of compost. The gooseberries and strawberries I brought under cover are now in leaf and the first gooseberry flowers have appeared. The apricots in tubs under cover are blooming and I've pollinated them by hand with an old shaving brush But conversely my early tomato and pepper plants are not moving very fast yet and the cucumbers are unusually slow, almost miffy - think I'll feed them some warm nitrogen rich water as their compost could be a bit thin.
I've also been tidying dead wood on my citrus. Most have come through the winter better than expected but the Kumquat has been slaughtered by cold, mould and mealy-bug so it's now been more coppiced than tidied. I have to tackle the guavas next as they look rather haggard and the custard apple too - especially as I want more space for the Strawberry guava which proves the more productive, and tasty, of the bunch. Indeed I've had non-stop fresh fruits on this since last autumn.
What's happening in your garden at the moment? What's making you swoon?
Bob Flowerdew is an organic gardener and panellist of BBC Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time.