A Gentle Presence

The sun is about to break through the clouds. I know that once it does, buds will break open and I will be dazzled.

For now, I want to appreciate the soft light, and the gentle presence of spring growth.

Myosotis (forget-me-nots) with aubrieta

I am going to walk right to the furthest end of the garden, beyond the vegetable plot and the fruit cage, to the area I fancifully call the ‘orchard’ (four apple trees). I planted a selection of bulbs here last autumn. I included snakeshead fritillaries, for my eldest daughter, because I know she likes them. This one is not fully ripe, but it has a beautiful subtlety at this stage.

Fritillaria meleagris (snakeshead fritillary)

These little blue flowers were previously known as Chionodoxa, or ‘Glory of the Snow’, but have now been welcomed into the scilla family. They too have a gentle grace. Rather than bowing their heads, they face up to the skies.

I think this is Narcissi ‘Hawera’. They are demonstrating that spring bulbs can look outwards too.

Daffodils can be a bit shouty; a bit full-on; a bit draining. Here they are showing their subtle side, and making space for the scilla.

My favourite weed in the garden is this purple dead nettle, Lamium purpureum. The bees love its early flowers, and it is welcome to populate this wild space.

Lamium purpureum

I have just direct-sown sweet peas into my raised beds around some obelisks. One of the obelisks is decorated with birds, which in turn, are decorated with lichen. They will be hidden by foliage in a couple of months, so now is the time to appreciate their subtle beauty.

Gardening should be trial-and-error. This year I have learnt that Scilla siberica is too small to be planted with tulips! Nevertheless, I am enjoying seeing glimpses of scilla, just peeping out from between the skirts of the tulips. I was a shy child, and if anyone asked me my name, I would duck under my mum’s skirt. It was a lovely place to be. This scilla reminds me of that feeling of billowing enclosure.

Tulipa ‘Midnight Girl’ and Scilla siberica

These tulips were planted in the rose garden three years ago. Their flowers have diminished in size, and really I should dig them up after flowering and plant new bulbs in the autumn. For now I am enjoying the dusky purple bud against a background of Hyacinth ‘Jan Bos’.

A less obvious combination is this clump of tulips with the rose ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ behind. I love the ‘fanning out’ of the whole garden right now, and it is emphasised here with the contrasting foliage of the rose.

All my roses show slightly different shades of red, maroon, bronze and copper foliage. ‘Young Lycidas’ is delicious.

This is one of my favourite geraniums, Geranium himalayens ‘Graveteye’. It pokes up these gorgeous little crimson shoots.

On a larger scale, this is a glamourous intersectional peony. I adore the texture. They are precision-cut, but they also have a softness.

Intersectional peony shoots

You can see the up-thrust of these herbaceous peony shoots. They have lifted the crust of mulch on top of them. It is their way of reminding me not to mulch directly on top of peonies. You risk their crowns rotting away. I should have made a little crater around them. But they seem to have forgiven me.

Herbaceous peony shoots

Plump pillows of phlox are scattered all over the place.

This salvia also has up-thrust. There is a sense of quiet determination. Things just have to grow!

Alchemilla mollis is quite slow to get started in spring. But I do love peering into it and seeing the downy little cockle-shell leaves. You can see a brand new leaf folded up like a concertina. Like so much else in the garden, it is just waiting to fan out.

I filled a few spaces in the rose garden with wallflower, Erysimum cheiri ‘Sunset Series’.

Erysimum cheiri ‘Sunset Series’

I think I am going to enjoy its subtle shades of peach and apricot, rose pink, cream and gold.

Erysimum cheiri ‘Sunset Series’

I love the arrangement of flower buds. They are tightly packed at the centre and start to swell from the outside, until one of them just can’t hold it in any longer.

Erysimum cheiri ‘Sunset Series’

There is a vintage feel to these rose-pink blooms. I will come back to them in a week or so when they are flowering with confidence.

Erysimum cheiri ‘Sunset Series’

This is going to be an enormous parrot tulip. For now it is resting its head in its hands, contemplating life, love and the universe.

I will leave you with the gentle curve of Tulip ‘Midnight Girl’. We are sitting in companionable silence. We will enjoy this tender moment together.


If you too appreciate the little things in life, then consider ‘following’ The Mindful Gardener. Click on the big ‘Follow’ button at the bottom of the post and you will receive email notification of each new post. I am to inspire you to notice the little pops of wonder in the natural world that might so easily be missed.

41 Comments Add yours

  1. adminedno says:

    What a lovely post to read to gently ease into the day!

    1. I am really glad you enjoyed it. x

  2. What a beautiful start to my day. I loved every picture in this post, especially the first. Dead nettle is one of my favorites because the bees seem to love them. 🌻💗🌱

    1. I am so glad you liked it, Lisa. Yes, dead nettles are always abuzz, aren’t they?

  3. What beautiful photos to start my day off. It looks so lovely there. Happy Hump Day!

  4. Ann Mackay says:

    Your garden is so full of promise…lovely!

    1. It is, Ann. It is a lovely time of the year where everything is ahead of us.

      1. Ann Mackay says:

        Probably my favourite time of year, for just that reason! 🙂

  5. krcc says:

    so pretty, every one!

    1. Thank you; I am really glad you liked them.

  6. What beautiful flowers! I am still waiting for my bulbs to sprout up this year. I am always so happy when Spring arrives at last!

    1. I know; it is a long wait, but so worth it!

  7. bcparkison says:

    It’s like finding the secret.garden.

    1. Aw thank you, Beverly. One of my favourite books – of course!!

  8. Thank you, Ali, for your early morning musings. You write your garden posts the way I write in my garden journals, and I love reading them. And I see that you garden the way Elizabeth Lawrence and Gertrude Jekyll often did by blending perennials among your roses — the proverbial English style I love and have written about before. You must live in a gentler climate than I do in Central Washington state as you have more blooms already. Only crocuses here for the past couple of weeks, but tulips are coming up. This week, I’ve been pruning roses and cleaning up winter debris. Three more bushes to do, then for a cuppa tea!

    1. Yes; I associate the bare legs of roses with municipal planting, and I do like to clothe them with equally pretty partners. It extends the season and the interest.

  9. Heyjude says:

    What a lovely walk around your garden, watching the plants wake up. Every day there is something new at this time of the year and I love to see how everything changes. You have so much to look forward to and I am super happy that you choose to share these precious moments with us.

    1. It is my pleasure to share them with you, Jude!

  10. Cathy says:

    Lovely to see all your new beginnings – and I was astonished at how dense that clump of emerging salvia is. Which one is it? I am still waiting for many of my new addition perennials to poke through and am really hoping for a good show-rate. The varied shape of tulip buds is fascinating to see – I love them all!

    1. It’s Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’. That’s a three year old clump, so nice and plump. Yes, the different shapes of tulip buds are wonderful aren’t they? I have just been admiring them!

  11. gaiainaction says:

    A most beautiful flower garden and very inspiring too, thank you 🙂

    1. That is very kind of you to say so, thank you!

  12. Eliza Waters says:

    What a happy, spring-feeling viewing your post has brought me. Plants and flowers are looking so vibrant and pretty!

    1. I am so happy to read that, Eliza. Thank you.

  13. M.B. Henry says:

    Beautiful pictures! Spring is finally springing! Those tulips are going to open up any second it looks like 🙂

    1. They are! I almost don’t like to rush them because I love their unripe buds.

  14. Jill Kuhn says:

    Your photos are so lovely! I enjoyed your garden tour today, Ali! 🌿🌸 I just love Spring and its awakening! 🌷

    1. It is lovely to hear that, Jill! Thank you. x

  15. Chloris says:

    I love the freshness of all your foliage and the promise of the buds. You are ahead of me Ali, I didn’t realise that Chionodoxa have become Scillas. I suppose that is why they hybridise readily.

    1. They are quite distinct though aren’t they? I love scillas the most. They are so delicate.

  16. I really enjoyed that walk through your garden Ali, what beautiful flowers.

  17. I love watching your garden and countryside come to life. How did you learn so much about plants, Ali?

    1. I think when I became interested in gardening I read a few books. If I notice something interesting I look it up and try to find out more. Like types of blossom, say.

      1. That’s wonderful! And encouraging! I know so little of plants right now but want to learn.

      2. That’s all you need. A curious mind.

  18. nancy marie allen says:

    Loved the garden tour and fabulous photos! You are a little ahead of my garden here in Northeast Massachusetts where the snowdrops have just begun blooming and the snow glories are ready to burst forth!

  19. Lifeholistic says:

    Ur blogs are superb and hearty

    1. Thank you, I am glad you have enjoyed them.

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