After a week of gale-force wind, I woke on Sunday morning to stillness and sunshine. I didn’t waste any time in pulling on my wellies and going out into the garden.
After a week, I felt starved and ready to reconnect.
I had spent an hour or so the day before in the greenhouse sowing seeds, but nothing beats being outdoors.
These are the first tulips in the garden. It is a variety I don’t particularly like, ‘Exotic Emperor’. I bought it as an alternative to my favourite green-and-white tulip, ‘Spring Green’. I don’t like the spikes on ‘Exotic Emperor’.
These are old bulbs now, and so the flowers are small (‘Spring Green’ is a much better choice: they have a lovely soft, silken texture and the flowers don’t get any smaller in subsequent years). Having said all of that, I am enjoying these tulips when I look through them and onto the peach tree in blossom.
The peach tree has elegant upward curved branches which remind me of a candelabra.
When you inspect the blossom closely, you can see the raspberry anthers clustered around a yellow stigma. The blossom will not last long. It has a week or so to be pollinated by visiting insects. If the flower is pollinated, then I will see a fuzzy little swelling of a peach in a couple of weeks.
Cherry blossom is also swelling.
This is one of three raised beds planted with tulips. In one of the beds I have left a space unplanted at the centre so that I can sow sweet peas later today. I find that direct-sowing sweet peas works well for me. I run out of windowsill space at this time of year, so if there are any seeds that can be direct-sown, they will be.
The bulb which attracts the most attention right now is the hyacinth. I find hyacinths to be the easiest of bulbs. They are reliably hardy and perennial, and bulk up each year. They are little fountains of colour spouting from the border. They are the link between the crocuses and the tulips. Their scent is the sweetest and strongest of any spring bulb. They can perfume a whole garden.
I’m not sure what variety this one is, because it was already in the garden when we moved here. Lilac and pink hyacinths are not a combination I tend to plant, but I do like them here. The silver-grey of salvia foliage gives an ethereal quality.
I have learnt not to touch hyacinth bulbs when planting them. If I touch my face after touching a hyacinth bulb, I come over all itchy and prickly, and have to shower in cold water. But really this is the only trouble the hyacinth causes. Gloves are an easy solution.
This is another clump I didn’t plant. I love the dark purple stems.
‘Woodstock’ is my favourite hyacinth. I can almost taste blackcurrant cordial when I look at the bulbous throats of the flowers.
‘Jan Bos’ will not be for everyone, but I love a flower that shouts.
Most of my daffodils are out now, but I just wanted to capture this bud. I love the green striations on daffodil buds. The yellow-and-green combination is one of my favourites.
This is Narcissus ‘Jetfire’. This is one of my favourite little daffodils. I love how its petals are swept back as if it is diving.
The little blue flower to the right of the daffodils is Scilla siberica. I utterly love this little spring bulb. Its flowers gleam like little sapphires.
I love the ultramarine stripe down the centre of each petal. The indigo stem adds to the effect.
I planted scilla with crocuses and tulips in pots. I realise now that the scilla are too tiny for this treatment. They are crowded out by their neighbours. All is not lost though. The scilla are adding an interesting blue tinge to the shrivelling crocuses.
I rescued a few scilla for putting in an espresso cup on the kitchen table. You can see them at their peak in my Instagram feed here. I have enjoyed watching their petals shrivel and become cerulean blue to match the anthers. I have enjoyed watching the seed-pods swelling. The textures are beautiful. Petals, anthers and seed-pod are all dusted with a little pearlescent sparkle.
Also rescued last week were these double daffodils. Their bloom is so plump that they would have been felled in the storms. There is no sadder sight than a daffodil with its face in the dirt. Once indoors, these daffodils have been perfuming our kitchen.
I enjoyed peering around corners this morning, and seeing the sunlit trees beyond. The sunlight had not crept high enough to touch the plants at knee-height. There was a sense of plants peeping out from the shadows.
Euphorbia characias ‘Wulfenii’ is a brilliant plant for peering around corners. You can appreciate the structure of its inflorescences when you look through this plant, and beyond.
Actually, this is a plant that looks wonderful wherever it is planted. From another angle, I love it with the red brick of the house wall behind.
If we have a full day of sunshine today and tomorrow, I expect that these lily-flowered tulips will be open within the week. Maybe my Saturday post will be full of tulips?
‘The Mindful Gardener’ is here to help you connect with the natural world. It is easy to get caught up in the busyness of everyday life. I hope that these posts inspire you to look closely at what is growing near you. Just five minutes outdoors makes a big difference to our wellbeing and sense of connectedness with the world around us.
If you would like to receive email notifications when a new post is published, you can click on the ‘Follow’ button at the very bottom of this page.