It’s still cold out there

February had snow and a heatwave, March with warm and cold spells, April has begun with lovely blue sky sunny days but also frosts at night.

As I’ve written before, weather is a preoccupation, if not an obsession, as planting, covering, putting seedlings out and so on is so important at this time of year.

Although we have reached the spring equinox and the clocks have gone forward, it felt decidedly wintry this morning.

Here is a photo of frost in my garden this morning.

The tulips looked rather sad due to the frost but will soon recover.

Hail, rain and snow is forecast in many parts of the UK with unsettled conditions for a while, it’s been snowing in northern England and southern Scotland. Warmer temperatures are predicted for the end of the month as well as April showers.

My nephew has got a couple of weekends free this month and is keen to get planting (some small garden trees and roses) and this is quite prudent given the weather, it really is fine to carry on planting until the end of April.

I planted a multitude of bulbs this year and we’ve been rewarded with daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and so on.

It’s lovely to pick narcissi and tulips for vases indoors, and they really add a splash of colour inside the house.

 

So, if you’re like my wife, you have a diary of your garden activities each year then refer to them the following year, just put a note in your diary to order spring bulbs in September, October and November (aliums, crocuses, cyclamens, daffodils, fritillaries, hyacinths, snowdrops and tulips) and then ‘bulbs in the green’ in January, February and March and later depending on the weather (snowdrops, aconites and bluebells) and you will get lovely splashes of yellows, blues, whites and reds from your bulbs at this time of year.

So much of gardening is about planning in advance, thinking months ahead and ordering your plants for delivery a few months hence; so that when they arrive it’s always a nice surprise. Ordering online gives you that ability to plan, whereas the huge cost and immediacy of garden centres is all well and good, but somehow that just-bought plant doesn’t have the same level of anticipation as a bulb, for example, planted in winter and flowering in spring.

As the odd day is warm and sunny, it does make me think of the summer. And that brings with it the thought of fragrant flowers and cutting the grass, and my wife’s preoccupation with her sweet peas, which look great, smell even better and are perfect for cutting for the house over the summer.

We will be planting cosmos in planters by the kitchen again this year as they were such a success last summer, as well as herbs in wooden containers.

I love cooking and when any of my three sons are home at the weekend I always make sure that we have Sunday roast, and quite often I cook a curry for Friday night. For the curries I use lots of herbs such as coriander, lemon grass and mint (which is just starting to sprout now) for a yellow Thai curry (with turmeric, ginger and chillies). My go to book on curries is Atul Kochhar’s ‘Curries of the World’.

Sunday lunch will often incorporate thyme and sage for adding with a lemon or lime in a chicken. It also has to have roast potatoes to which I always add rosemary. I use Jamie Oliver’s tip of using a pestle and mortar to crush the rosemary to sprinkle over the potatoes. The rosemary should be bashed rather than ground.

We have had our lavender for quite a few years now, and although it continues to give great flowers, we have discussed the need to replace it, as it’s getting woody. The question is which one to get; Hidcote, Munstead, Rosea or Alba or a combination. You may recall all the uses we have had from our lavender over the years, here.

Whether it’s the weather, planning ahead or thinking of the wonderful fragrances that will be wafting around the garden, it’s worth spending the time planning ahead to get the most out of your garden.

Happy gardening

Mark

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