The whoosh is what the plants are doing now after a few days of much, much appreciated rain. They are growing like the clappers, everything is fresh, the ground is soft, the colour green is dominant, pure and zingy, it’s all rather thrilling (after some rather shocking snow on April fool’s day, we hope that’s over and done with). There’s lots to do now: more seeds need sowing, the first salad crops have moved to the mini-greenhouse, chilli peppers have been potted on and it’s time to keep a watchful eye on the hungry slugs and snails.
What can be more tantalizing than pots of tulips about to burst into bloom? I crave their colour like an alcoholic craves a bottle of wine! I’ve got Aladdin in the foreground, which I had last year and adored, and Negrita mixed with Request in a great big pot alongside. There’s also some Dillenburg, the very first of which is showing its sunset shades.
The dainty little Narcissus ‘Minnow’ has done well this year. I didn’t give up after last year’s disaster when all my narcissi in pots rotted. This time, I made sure the drainage was good with plenty of vermiculite in the potting mix and raised the pots off the ground with bits of broken tiles – this seems to have worked, thankfully.
Moving from the pots on the terrace to the shady side of the front path, where this delightful yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon) provides a welcome pit stop for the bees. See how it has a lovely rain canopy on top, edged with wispy hairs, and rather gorgeous nectar guides on the lower petal: lunch this way. The leaves are dotted with silvery-white splashes (so this might be the cultivar, aluminium archangel, rather than the wild species). It’s from the dead-nettle family, but doesn’t sting.
It’s also the foliage at this time of year that can delight. This is lovage is growing so fast it’s almost sprinting out of the ground. I especially look forward to all the herbs coming into growth at this time of year, as fresh herbs transform everything you cook from fine to sublime. Lovage has a strong flavour, here in Belgium they call it the ‘Maggi herb’ after a famous brand of stock cubes, because it really does taste just like one. Perfect for adding flavour to soups and stews. It’s also handsome enough to go in a decorative border, I’ve even heard of people growing it with roses.
Fruit blossom is another of April’s highlights, and here is Malus Evereste in its second season here. The buds are a brilliant pink, opening to classic crab apple blossom. It’s earlier into bloom than both my apple trees.
There are so many pretty things to chose from (21 photos this week!) but as my final pic I’ve selected this bit of my lawn that has been messed about with. Can you guess who the culprits are?
No, not the chickens, it’s a pair of magpies who are using the grass and mud to line their nest, which is in the big climbing rose just outside our bedroom window. What with starlings nesting at the top of the house in a cavity under the roof (when in the office we can hear the babies crying out for food), and with the great tits investigating the nest box in the glade again this year, that could be three sets of birds nesting in our garden.
So that’s my six-ish tour for this week, I’m tempted to go on but I’ve got some packing to do, as we’re off to Rome for a short break. It’s a tricky time in the gardening year to be going away, am a bit worried about my tomato and chilli seedlings, but it’s only for a few days, and at least they’ve been potted on. Looking forward anyway to a few more degrees of warmth, sunshine and pasta, lots of pasta! For more of the Six-on-Saturday theme from gardeners around the globe (but no Italians yet, I think?) visit the Propagator and his special Six-on-Saturday page.