If ever there is a sight to lift my heart, it is seeing the mimosa tree in full bloom against a cloudless blue sky – and as the air warms its unmistakeable fragrance drifts in the breeze. It is a particularly welcome sight this year because last year’s relentless winter winds withered the buds before they could open and left the tree looking very sorry for itself. A late spring prune removed all the damaged wood as well as giving the tree its annual haircut to keep it looking dense and bushy.
Every now and again I do manage to follow my own advice and get things done at the right time of year. Last autumn I took cuttings from my increasingly leggy scented pelargoniums and overwintered them in the greenhouse. Nearly all of them have rooted, so I have potted them on into their own pots so that they can get established before I need the space for seedlings. I’ve also cut their leggy parents right back, given them a soak and a liquid feed to encourage new growth – one way or another the garden will be very fragrant this summer.
Having the heated propagator in the greenhouse has made all the difference to my seed sowing. No more lanky seedlings grown on the kitchen windowsill. As soon as they have germinated, they come out of the propagator and onto the bench. After a few days there, they are moved into the coldframe where they will stay until they are ready to be pricked out into individual cells or planted out.
Warm sunshine, barely a breeze and the flowers are unfurling, birds singing and bees of every shape and size are buzzing round the garden accompanied by squadrons of hoverflies. Stop Press! I’ve just seen a tortoiseshell butterfly! It’s on days like this that the slog through winter dissolves and I find myself itching to get out there and do things – lots of things. But before the hard work begins, it’s time to celebrate the early arrivals in the garden whether floral or flying.
As we pootled around the Botanic Garden in Nigel Taylor’s buggy admiring our surroundings we spotted a young monitor lizard on the trunk of a palm tree. The reason that it was up there turns out to be that if they stay on the ground their parents will eat them!