We headed off to Templepatrick on Tuesday morning, with the frost well and truly on the ground.
Our destination was Reg Maxwell’s garden (which feels the frost at the best of times) so we recorded in the comfort of the house, with coffee and home-made scones to warm the cockles.
Thanks to Reg’s wife Pat for both and for the pots of homemade marmalade which made their way home with us.
On the agenda with Reg for this week’s programme, seeds and seed catalogues.
What will grow well in Reg’s garden? given local conditions and how to get the garden ready in anticipation of harvests to come.
Optimism is the name of the game and the catalogues make it all look so possible and so enticing and I can absolutely see how gardeners, both the seasoned and the beginner, get carried away.
Reg though, with the benefit of a lifetime of experience, knows just what he wants to grow and as ever, the ground is the crucial thing so before a seed is sown the soil must be made ready.
You can hear Reg talk us through the important elements on this week’s programme.
Next stop was Ballyrobert, so we were still in County Antrim and the frost was even more in evidence when we called with Maurice and Joy Parkinson.
At first glance of course, all was silvery white and somehow static in the chill air, but a closer look revealed lots of buds and shoots, while spears of red Cornus stems, pruned early, have been added to beds and borders to bring stabs of bright colour.
With the grass neat and the borders trimmed, the garden looked streamlined and ready, even with borders and beds in their state of winter limbo.
But winter limbo can be deceptive and loving the cold in Ballyrobert at the moment and wafting heady perfume through the air, were a gnarled and venerable Viburnum Tinus and an elegant assortment of spidery witch-hazels.
And elsewhere, nosing and nudging their way through the cold ground, were the beautifully marked leaves of Arum Italicum, little colonies of early snowdrops, canopies of winter aconites and wood anenomes and curly sprinklings of pink cylamen coum.
And the good news is of course that this is only the beginning.
Talking about what’s ahead, Ann Fitzsimons came into the studio this week armed creatively with compost, pots, secateurs, bulbs and plants ... in this case some scented pelargoniums in need of re-potting.
So, in the process, the established plants, Pelargonium Tomentosum and Pelargonium Graveolens received their haircuts and their re-potting and new plants were made from old with the cuttings taken.
And just in case you are wondering, they do have flowers in summer when their soft scented foliage is further enhanced by tiny, white blooms or pale pink flowers with a slight maroon flush, respectively.
A tiny, tough and pretty Primula Noverna with it’s deep blue flowers (which will bloom from June to November) was duly divided, creating four plants from one.
Dahlia tubers and lilies were planted in anticipation of summer days to come.
All in all a life-affirming way to spend a morning.
You can hear all about it on this week’s programme and see some pictures of Anne’s handiwork, Maurice’s winter garden and the tantalisingly perfect plants in Reg’s seed catalogues on the Gardeners’ Corner homepage or the BBC Radio Ulster facebook site.