Sunday, March 1, 2009

Spring is not quite sprung (but the grass is certainly riz)

There have been times this year when I thought I'd never go out in the garden again. Indeed, after slicing off a bit of finger last week, I thought I'd never dare go in the garden again. These feelings don't last long, though. It takes very little to inspire new enthusiasm.
Indeed, strangely enough, it was while I was sitting in A&E (that's ER, American readers) the other morning, waiting to have a new dressing put on my finger, that I saw Toby Buckland, the presenter of Gardener's World, on breakfast TV, urging us all to get out and do some work on our plots this weekend.
How could we tidy up our gardens and get our sad-looking lawns and borders back in shape, he was asked by the (well-manicured) lady presenter. Get the mower out, he said. It makes a huge difference, and there's nothing better for grass than cutting it.
I'll say this for Toby Buckland, he's so fresh-faced and enthusiastic, he made me feel better immediately. So yesterday I duly got out the mower, ignoring the jibes of my unsympathetic children ("Do you want us to count all your fingers and toes when you've finished, Mum? Just to make sure you haven't left any lying around?").
I mowed the lawn. And cut back the phormiums a bit more, and tidied up the dead foliage on the perennials (the crocosmia, sedum, hardy geraniums and even agapanthus were already showing new growth). And I trimmed the odd bit of lawn edge (one of my favourite jobs) and had a thoroughly nice time.
The biggest thrill of all was seeing a pair of collared doves. I've never seen one in London before, so to see one and then two was amazing! They didn't stay long enough for me to get the camera, but I hope they'll be back. There seemed to be some sort of courting ritual going on, but I didn't inquire too closely. It would have been rude.
Because my garden isn't a traditional English plot, it takes quite a while to wake up in spring. It looks reasonably neat and presentable, and spring-type things (such as daffodils and so on) happen, but it's a bit like a teenager. While everyone else's garden is (metaphorically) up and busy by 9am, my garden is still languishing in bed until 2pm.
I'm never quite sure whether this is a good thing or not. The upside of this is that I too can (metaphorically) lounge in bed in early spring, while everyone else is spilling over with crocuses and winter aconites and primroses and frantic activity. The downside is that there's nothing much floriferous going on until summer. And there's always a rather horrible period when I wonder whether my cannas are ever going to get going.
If you're interested in exotics and sub-tropical plants, you may like to take a look at Will Giles's new blog, which details life in his extraordinary garden in Norwich. He has six cats, too...
Gardeners' World starts again on Friday 13 March.