Tuesday, 21 March 2017

More in hope than in expectation



It was cold, windy and growing dark. Was I by a warm fire eating chocolate and toasting my toes ? No, I was bent double at the back of a border wresting with a bramble resembling a giant, spiky python! I paused mid - chop to wonder what actually drives me to carry on working outside in the gloom, and came to the conclusion that it is, succinctly, hope that propels me.

Tender plants in the heated greenhouse
Hope that bulbs planted in the cold soil of autumn will give pleasure in the spring, hope that the seeds sown now will be flowering beautifully in the warmer days of summer and hope that the garden will be, well, just better next time round.

There is a simple experiment to test someone's attitude to deferred gratification. You offer them a pound immediately, or two pounds in a month. I guess every true gardener will wait patiently for the two pounds, as we don't really do instant gratification. We are in it for the long game. We have to be, as we lovingly plant a sapling, knowing we will have to wait ten years to, literally, see the fruits of our labour.

Succulents in the cold greenhouse
So this period of early spring sometimes seems to me like a test of endurance and patience, with the bonus of growing rewards as the season progresses.

Fuchsia Boliviana
Although activities in the garden change character throughout the growing season, these few weeks always seems to be the hardest . I don't do much digging now, only the cutting garden and veg beds, but this is the time of year for doing what digging has to be done ; getting in to the back of the borders and dealing with any brambles or self seeded saplings; cutting some shrubs hard back and reshaping them;  clearing beds of winter debris  and hoeing every last one of them. It is hard physical work often in unpleasant cold weather.
Abutilon
But it only takes a few rays of spring sunshine on your back to bring back those happy fuzzy feelings!
And there are growing pleasures too, as old friends start to pop up around the garden.

Coleus 'King Kong'
It does feel good to connect with the garden again, though, and to shake off the slothfulness of winter in honest graft.

Dahlia 'Extreme Double'
Work in the greenhouses remains pretty constant throughout the growing season, as it does not change in essence . The work is easy and very pleasant, especially on a cold day, when the warmth of is very welcoming. I have already sown lots of different seeds, and indeed the sweet peas and cerinthe are quite well grown now. Most are doing well, and Coleus 'King Kong' seedlings (pictured above) have  developed their red colouration over the last few days. having a greenhouse means that there is always an alternative depending on the weather. Good days out in the garden, and rainy ones snug in the greenhouse.

In the heated greenhouse the tender plants are waking up and have had their first drink of water since last autumn. Salvias and fuchsias are putting out new leaves and hedychium , which have kept their leaves over winter, are putting out new spikes. In the unheated greenhouse the succulents have had their first drink too - but a very sparing one as they are kept exceptionally dry until they are in active growth.

Poised on the brink of a whole new season, I guess I garden more in hope than expectation ...





36 comments:

  1. Ah yes, this is the season of hope. Hope that the quince will finally fruit; hope that the slugs have given up seedlings for lent and the pigeons are developing a taste for weeds; hope that there won't be a late frost... oh, and hope that our backs will stay strong through the hours and hours of weeding ahead of them.
    I love the photos of all the seedlings... there will be colour in your garden this year.... hopefully :-/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And hope that the pigeons get sick of the taste of yellow crocus!

      Delete
  2. This time of year is one of hope and grandiose ideas. Yes, that anticipation of greater things to come. Warmth, growth, new projects. Can't wait. I envy you your greenhouses. They must prolong and enhance the anticipation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree about the grandiose ideas Lisa - the hard bit for me is translating them into reality!

      Delete
  3. Having just stepped outside this morning and felt the soil squelch beneath my feet I think it will be a greenhouse day again today. I just hope the rain keeps off because the roof leaks! But all that aside it is a lovely place to be and watching more seedlings emerge each day does fill a gardener with a great sense of satisfaction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How odd - we had a totally squelchy one yesterday and today is a gift from the garden gods ! Warm sun and blue skies so ... stuff the greenhouse today, it can wait until a rainy day! Hope the rain keeps away for you Jessica and doesn't drip on you!

      Delete
  4. This makes me wish I had a greenhouse or at least had started seeds in the window this year. I will probably go the straight to ground method and hope for the best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am doing direct sowing later this month, Phillip, as I am starting a cutting garden for the first time. Usually when I direct sow in the borders I end up 'weeding' out all the seedlings by accident!

      Delete
  5. Dear Jane, what a beautifully written post, well it is more of an essay! I could so much relate to it. In terms of my garden I am always hopeful and in essence that this year the garden will be better than last year. Actually I really have come to appreciate that gardening is not about instant gratification. It is about nurturing, caring, carefully planning for the future. Sometimes when you for example plant an oak tree even for the next generation.
    I loved seeing all your germinated seeds! The seedlings look so happy and healthy. There is something so satisfying in watching in watching them grow up and become wonderful plants.
    Usually I don't grow plants from seeds, but this year I sowed sweet peas and it made me so happy to see the little seedlings appear. I am also growing dahlias not from seeds but from tubers and some of them have poked their new shoots through the soil already, yay!
    Wishing you a wonderful garden season ahead. Hope is eternal!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments Christina. I'm glad you have enjoyed growing your sweet peas. It is very satisfying!
      I am waiting for my dahlia tubers to shoot - patience is another virtue all gardeners need to cultivate !

      Delete
  6. Hi Jane, This is the season where hope runs rampant!Just the sight of new life breaking the ground and old life rebreaking and growing new stems is so much fun. I'm really looking forward to your posts as the season progresses. Happy Gardening!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sally. Happy gardening to you too - enjoy the excitement of spring!

      Delete
  7. Yes, I don't think I will ever tire of the excitement of watching the progress of plants from seed through to maturity - and for the first time I have also experienced the excitement of cuttings rooting! It makes me wonder how we gardeners don't BURST with all the anticipation and excitement! You are certainly off to a good start anyway, Jane :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Taking cuttings is extremely satisfying isn't it ? I nearly gave up on a Begonia cutting which I was trying to root in water,I had it in my hand to throw away ... then I saw tiny roots ! So pleased!

      Delete
  8. I wondered earlier on this morning why I was outside in a rather cool biting wind with secateurs in my hand pruning a rather wayward shrub. Like you though Jane I think that it is hope that is the driving force :) Exciting signs of growth in your greenhouse. I hope that there was still time to toast your toes and sip hot chocolate when you got back indoors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha Anna ! Oh yes, always time for toasting the toes at the end of a long day!

      Delete
  9. One quality gardeners must have is patience and another is perseverance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shovels full of it Sue! Perseverance in the face of adversity is a necessity!

      Delete
  10. Hope, yes, that is exactly the gardener's most strong feeling, especially in spring.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have grown ginger lilies for the first time last year. I cut the folage off mine before winter, do you always leave it on yours? Any tips about their care would be welcome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Likewise Brian! We bought some from the Urban Jungle in Norwich last spring and I must admit I have been very cautious with them - perhaps over cautious. I have lifted them all and brought them into the heated greenhouse or conservatory. I believe some varieties can take a couple of degrees of frost though. Mine have kept their foliage over winter and are now pushing out new spears.

      Delete
  12. Good morning Jane,
    It's great to see your seeds are coming up. It's the start for whole new garden year after a long wintertime. I wish i had the space in my little garden for a small greenhouse.
    Happy springtime Jane.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marijke, it has seemed like a long winter here too and spring is most welcome! Shame you can't fit in a tiny greenhouse as it adds such an enjoyable dimension to gardening - and gives you somewhere cosy to work when the weather is bad!

      Delete
  13. I'm growing 'Extreme Double' dahlia, too. :) Seeing my trays of seedlings sprout and push out new life is exciting and a reminder of what lies ahead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We will have to compare notes Tammy ! Newsflash for mine is that we went to London for the weekend and when we got back the sun (yes, the sun! Unbelievable I know!) had fried about half the seedlings. But how can I shake my fist at the sun when we see it so rarely ...

      Delete
  14. Lovely to see all your fresh young seedlings. Not sure I can say that I am good at deferred gratification, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here when chocolate or wine is the subject! OK with plants though !

      Delete
  15. A highly deferred comment, as I read your post days ago, then had to leave before commenting at all ;-) At any rate, hope and deferred gratification would seem to be two sides of the same coin, so surely we gardeners get the best of the deal. Seeing the new shoots coming up is half the fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those new shoots are coming up ridiculously quickly at the moment Amy! Not much waiting is involved at present !!

      Delete
  16. Hope must propel us all. There are many signs of it in this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ricki, we just have to hope we see things through to successful fruition!

      Delete
  17. Wow, you're growing Abutilon from seed!? We have one bare, sorry looking plant that I'm hoping will come back, even after running over the lower stems with the lawnmower. Oh well, one can but hope!?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Get sowing Sunil :-) Abutilon are some of the easiest seeds I have ever sown !

      Delete
  18. You are so lucky to have a greenhouse! And a beautiful one at that. May I ask why you grow dahlias from seed? I don't think it's very common in Holland, at least, I don't know anyone who grows them from seed. I just put my dahlia tubers in the ground today. I can't wait :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I grow dahlias from seed because they will flower in the same season, so for a very small cost I increase my stock of dahlias every year. Also, they are so easy from seed, and I enjoy growing them. I dig them all up at the end of the season and overwinter the tubers too. Dahlias are my favourites ! I just can't get enough !!

      Delete

Thanks for visiting and reading.
I really welcome comments and have learned much from them, over the years of leaning over the virtual garden gate ...