Suddenly, seemingly overnight, the winter battered, bare earth of the gardens soil has erupted with the pointed beaks of bulbs and the ever expanding, fresh green rosettes of awakening perennials. The wallflowers and Sweet Williams,which have been stood like half dead sticks all winter long against the wind and rain, have undressed their battered attire and changed into their shiny, green, spring wardrobes in preparation for their flowering graduations.
The courtyard garden has taken on a green carpet very quickly this spring, as a result of my planting it last summer with many herbaceous perennials and hundreds of bulbs. The alliums appeared first with their duck egg blue, strappy leaves. The blossom buds on the outstretched arms of the espaliered pears grow fatter as the daylight hours become ever longer.
The planted cattle troughs in the courtyard are splatted with a rich, lemon yellow from the now in flower Narcissi ‘Vip Van Winkle’ which is totally double, like an eccentric star made from tissue paper. The roses that I planted last autumn are coming into bud now and are surrounded by emerging tulips called ‘Gentle Giants’. These should be a mixture of intense blushing pinks and rouges.
The rose bed in the courtyard has been scattered over with the seeds of Phacelia tanacetifoli, a quick growing annual that has unique and beautiful lilac flowers, rich in nectar and its root structure benefits the soil too.
In the greenhouse the potting benches are suddenly groaning with the weight of dozens of seed trays and the floor is covered in pots of awakening dahlia tubers. I’m really looking forward to growing several new varieties of dahlias this year. Many of them I saw in Sarah Raven’s trial garden last summer. One especially is dahlia ‘Labyrinth’ which lasts for ages in a vase and is like a great ruffled, preening flamingo upon a stem. www.sarahraven.com/flowers/bulbs/dahlias/dahlia_labyrinth.htm
The Buff Orpington chicks which hatched on the 1st March are now feathering up well and are often to be found under the rosemary bushes exploring and dust-bathing. Six adult hens, several of which I hatched at the factory last year, have returned to the hen house in the garden this spring too. It is lovely to have the company of hens once again each day while gardening.
Please do come and see the garden over the coming weeks as the colours will only intensify as spring progresses. Happy Gardening and thanks for reading.
Arthur is the gardener and florist at the Emma Bridgewater Factory.