It's with a great deal of trepidation, and full acknowledgement that I've been known to drift away from such things as easily as I drift into them, that I plan to attempt an ongoing series, of sorts, pertaining to garden-ish things, to the state-of-the-land-ish things -- of which this is the first installment. :)
It's warming up, slowly but steadily. Then it gets cold again. Rinse and repeat. But, the ice has finally retreated from the pond and the early morning hours are full of birdsong. I don't get excited until I hear the robins -- they arrived, seemingly en masse over a week ago but have only just started contributing to the morning chorus. Moste auspicious! The next milestone will be when the swallows return, but that's a ways off.
I took myself out last weekend, on the sunniest of the two days (although there was still a stiff, arctic breeze blowing) and pruned the roses and the shrubs that needed it. The winter rose-casualty situation seems a bit daunting, but I've learned not to worry too much at the lack of 'green wood' as even the most dead-looking rose will often rally once the spring sun gets warmer. The recent trend of warm-cold-warm-cold in our winters wreaks havoc on the poor dears but I've that stalwart optimism that's necessary in the souls of gardeners everywhere.
Speaking of roses -- I placed my order with David Austin (I write like that he's a close-personal friend! You know, me and my bestie, Dave)...a memorial rose for my Grandad (Munstead Wood) and two others (Heathcliff and Lady of Shallot). I wrote to a friend, recently, and confessed my inclination towards choosing roses based upon their names. Not always, mind you, but it's often what draws me to them in the first place. Heathcliff? Say no more. And Lady of Shallot? Well, she's been 'starred' for several years in my catalogue and this year was her turn. I chose Munstead Wood for my Grandad because it looks (and apparently smells) very much like the classic sort of rose that he grew in his garden in England. It'll go in the space beside Windermere, which is my Nanna's rose.
I've started some seeds. It seemed like a whole lot of effort, to be honest, my groove still being a bit absent, but now that I've done it, I feel so much happier. There's nothing like the miracle of a seed sprouting into a shoot to lift the spirit. I wanted to give my heirloom tomatoes a head start. They take a veritable age to mature and I've yet to be able to harvest any of my Old Germans...the frost gets there before they can ripen...the Tiny Tim cherry variety were most abundant last year, though...despite being stricken by a Lurgy late in the season.
I also started my marigolds -- always very obliging, and with the aforementioned eternal optimism, some native wildflower seeds. I planted Black-Eyed Susans and Boneset. I've tried for several years to grow these from seed with zero success -- BUT -- I'm delighted to report that TWO of the black-eyed susans have germinated!! ...and there was much rejoicing. Nothing so far from the boneset (two weeks in) but I shall cling to hope and mutter fervent encouragement daily. I'm guessing you all do that, right? Speak encouragingly to your seeds/seedlings? And, of course, we're all planting with the pollinators in mind, yes? I fear this may be a recurring soap box theme this year, in my garden and so therefore on ye olde blogge. Brace yourselves. :)
Having lost rather a lot of our hens over the past year -- mostly due to predation, although we lost our dear Rhonda to natural causes -- we've been contemplating a replenishment. Because of our no-rooster policy we're a bit limited in our options as most of the heritage breeds come without a guarantee of gender identification. I prefer started birds as the whole raising day-old chicks gives me unreasonable amounts of stress so we'll be getting a pick 'n mix of twelve new girls, of 6 weeks in age, in early May. In a fit of insanity, I've agreed to three turkeys (if you've been reading along for a while you'll know my feelings on turkeys!) but they're to be strictly for weed-control purposes. They're extremely adept, for instance, at keeping the burdock under control. Last summer was our first without turkeys and I'm now faced with having to cope with towering burdock with stems like the trunks of giant redwoods. They also have a taste for motherwort which is EPIC and quite thuggish. I'm hoping they'll also take a fancy to the creeping charlie as that spread into Triffid-like proportions last summer. Still, considering the mass plundering tendency in turkeys, I may very well live to regret this decision.
I have, as usual, a veritable laundry list of projects for the garden this year, although they tend to be more of the hardscaping variety. I want to make a gravel path around my flower beds that are close to the house (due to my yearly expanding of the beds, the remaining grass strip is too narrow to get the mower into), a little 'patio' near the hugelkultur bed (for sitting and sipping) and sort out the fencing around the veg garden (the turkeys, you know). I've ordered two 1000L water tanks (repurposed. naturally) to use as additional "rainbarrels" and my ultimate wish is to find some who can rig up a sort of pump system to get water from the pond for the veg. A girl's gotta dream, right?
Speaking of laundry...hanging the washing out on the line to dry has to be my Very Best Favourite thing about the turn of the season. Is there anything quite like the smell of line-dried washing? Ah, me!
Another new favourite is this podcast. Ohmyword! I literally LOL'd during the first episode. SO good! I've been getting Laetitia's weekly letter and it's a happy reminder that gardening can be what you want it to be and that not being able (or not wanting) to spend hours on end in the garden doesn't mean you can't cultivate (ha! see what I did there?) a beautiful relationship with the land.
Every year, at the end of a long and arduous winter, I look out at the brown and grey landscape and wonder that it will ever transform into the lush green that summer brings. But every year it does. I think that's one of the things I love best about tending and taking notice of the land, it absolutely proves, time and gain, that no matter how dire things seem, there's always, always reason to hope. It's a bit magic, yes?
Happy Easter, to those who observe it...and we do, in our way.
I find that, with the passage of time, I'm less bothered by what these seasonal holidays are called...about how faith is defined...to which tenets a person may subscribe. I feel that they're all versions of the same story, after all. Imagine if we spent less time arguing semantics and the tiny details and more time falling more deeply into awe with what's around us...as evidence of the Great Wonder of it all? It would be a fine thing, indeed.
Also, happy birthday to me. (47!) <-- quite excellent, I think.
Life is good. So very good.