At last it feels like spring – she is so late this year that the dandelions have all come up at once.  In a normal year (whatever that is) the flowering time of the dandelion seems to be a bit more spread out.  Not this year as you can see from the picture of one of the fields by the Little Garden.

Dandelion City

Thousands of dandelions in the next field over, waiting to blow into the Little Garden

I used to hate seeing dandelions going to seed, being the main (and only) weeder around the place, until I saw a goldfinch munching away at a seedhead.  Now I just sigh as I pass out the hundreds of fluffy heads knowing that I will be pulling the weeds up in a year’s time.  And so it goes.

Tulip 'Ballerina'

Tulip ‘Ballerina’ doing a raindance

It’s the freshness of the season that I enjoy most: raindrops sitting on leaves, buds bursting open, leaves unfurling (why do I hear Julie Andrews singing all of a sudden?).  It restores hope (if you happen to have lost it over the winter). One of my very favourite sights is a big fat Oriental poppy bud pulling up out of the centre of a plant.  The wind here usually tears up the delicate flower once it opens in all its tissue-paper glory, but I enjoy the rough, toughness of the bud stage and take as a bonus the flower itself if it manages to last even a few days.

Oriental poppy bud

Oriental poppy bud is rough & tough, unlike the flower to come

Spring flowers are probably my favourites.  Maybe it’s because everything is looking lush and healthy, nothing has really gone over yet except maybe the daffodils (whose ratty old foliage you can disguise by planting things like Aquilegia around them that are only bulking up and coming into flower when the daffs finish).  I like the old standards: Pulmonaria, Dicentra, Pulsatilla (you may have seen my fondness for ‘Papageno’ in a previous post), cowslips, Doronicum.  I find yellow a difficult colour to work with in the garden because it can be so wrong with other colours at times (I feel the same about pink) – but in springtime this doesn’t bother me a bit.  One of my borders is a sea of yellow at the moment because I have let cowslips seed prodigiously.  I love cowslips and can’t bear to pull them out, though I fear these are starting to choke each other a bit and so I will separate them after flowering and put the extras somewhere else.


A sea of self-seeded cowslips

The vegetable garden like everything else is a bit behind.  I have a good stock of tomato plants growing in the polytunnel along with some trays of lettuce seedlings.  Everything is so late this spring that I’m only just clearing the tunnel out now.  I had let rocket and mustard plants go to flower in hopes of bringing in hoverflies and bees – they need a bit of help this time of year when the weather is wet and flowering is behind schedule. It worked – they did show up. But now that plants are starting to flower outside I can clear out the rocket, etc., before it goes to seed.

Look at all the potential in this little fella, a climbing bean seedling

Look at all the potential in this little fella, a climbing bean seedling

Squashes, pumpkins and all sorts of beans have been sown.  I’m using up old seed this year so I have oversown just in case.  I’m going to throw out all the seed packets of the non-germinators (The Germinator — now that’s a good name for a film!) and start fresh next year.  I have to do this every three years or so, otherwise I just end up with far too many seed packets.  I always buy fresh parsnip seed every year and scallion seed which doesn’t seem to keep a very high germination rate for me after the first year.  And sweet peas as well.

Pulmonaria officianalis

Pulmonaria officianalis

What’s happening at the Big Garden, you ask?  I haven’t been in a few weeks due to bad weather and other commitments.  I had planned to go this morning to do a bit of weeding, but it is lashing rain.  Maybe I’ll get a chance to go later.  I will post an update when I do.  Until then, happy digging from the west of Ireland.  Yours truly, The Germinator