I spent a really rewarding couple of hours in the garden during the week.
It doesn’t sound like much even to me but it’s amazing what you can do give a bit of spare time.
Mind you I was, admittedly in headless chicken mode for most of it, with secateurs, trowels, brushes, pots and half the contents of the shed all over the place as I started this and started that...
I remember a few years ago watching a television programme, which featured a wonderful London garden. Very much “of the city” it was a slender ribbon of a garden framed by brick walls and carpeted entirely with “Mind-Your-Own-Business” or Soleirolia, which transformed the whole garden into a kind of wonderful green underworld.
Lumps of rock large and small broke through the carpet of green and here and there mirrors and ponds reflected it all back to itself.
Along with memories of the garden I remember the gardener who created it saying that he tried to spend at least an hour a day keeping it all in check.
Good idea I thought then and I have called it to mind many times since.
So it was a sense of purpose that I set to cleaning pots and sweeping leaves and clearing earth, delighting too in successes and looking ruefully at failures and all the while making decisions about what stays and what goes.
I particularly love the plants which find their own feet without any help from me .. like the little Viola Labradorica, which sprouts in stony crevices and under garden benches.
Or the fine-leaved tiny Iceland poppies with their furry little flower pods not yet visible.
The Blueberries which are growing in pots and are self-pollinating are sprouting nicely. I know they will be happier in the ground and that’s where they will go eventually when I clear a bed to make way for them and for the vegetables, which I hope to grow this year.
At the moment it is populated by a lovely Maple tree, two pretty Rhodendron “ Shamrock” the fork-leaved dappled Arum Italicum, (the flower arrangers' favourite) assorted daffodils, bluebells and cowslips and herbs, chief among them oregano, another happy coloniser which the butterflies and bees just adore.
I know I’m going to have to bite the bullet and find new homes for some of them or I may, for the moment, do as the French do and happily companion plant with fruit, vegetables and herbs.
And given that time may be the most precious ingredient in the mix, that sounds like a good idea to me.
My neighbour’s garden is currently sporting the prettiest red and yellow tulips which look so stylish, dancing and nodding in the breeze and making me think that I would love few more in my own garden ... what an oversight ...
So I’m off to Glenarm to be inspired by this weekend’s annual Tulip Festival, where some 8,500 bulbs have been planted by the garden team. You can hear all about it from Reg Maxwell on this week’s programme alongside Brendan Little in conversation with Helen Mark about good garden design and Maurice Parkinson with plants which just shout “spring”
Till next week, happy gardening.