Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

I used to work with a lady who said that all the time. I think she sort of meant, ‘anywaaaay’, or perhaps it was just her way of reserving space on the crowded verbal airwaves of our department.Garden plan

Anywaaaay… to say that I’ve been thinking incessantly about our new garden would not be hyperbole. I think about it when I go to sleep. I think about when I wake up. During my lunch break at work, when everyone else is chatting or reading magazines, I design garden layouts on quadrant paper. I spend my weekends hauling cement blocks to the tip, levering root boles out of the ground, hoisting soil and sand and gravel about, in short doing a lot of the type of gardening that constitutes hard labour rather than the pretty sort of gardening that involves dividing, cultivating, deadheading, and planting seeds. That’s why I’m not showing you any photos of the new garden today. It still looks like a building site.

I think about the new garden so much that I have been forgetting that ‘back at the ranch’ I have a perfectly good garden that is doing all the delightful things that gardens do in early spring. So this morning I went out with my camera to pay them homage.

My esteemed hellebore ‘Winter Moonbeam’ is coming into flower. I have cut back the old leathery leaves as one is supposed to do, to allow the new growth to shine forth in all its Neapolitan glory. IMG_0003I planted the hellebore in March 2014 and it has done pretty well in this corner. There are few advantages of having to stay in this flat for an extra few months while the renovation project goes on in the new flat, but one of them is that I may have time to divide this hellebore before we leave so that I can bring it with me.

Now, what on earth is this snapdragon doing out at this time of year? Is this normal? Yes, the garden is sheltered, but we’ve just had two weeks of a steady minus two degrees and there it goes still blooming away like it’s July. I’d like to divide this too, but I’m not sure that’s kosher for an antirrhinum (chime in if you know).

IMG_0005The crocuses are coming up. This north-east-facing front garden doesn’t get a lot of light at this time of year and I recall that last year these didn’t come out until a good few weeks after everyone else’s.

IMG_0006The snowdrops are coming out too, along with new shoots of the rather bossy Spanish bluebells that are simply everywhere in this garden.


Here are more snowdrops together with a charming primrose (and more bossy Spanish bluebells). I have divided this primrose and potted it up for the new garden.


The lobelia goes on and on, although it’s starting to look less sure of itself…


And here is one of my drum primroses stalwartly surviving the cold. I divided and potted these up for the new garden too.


IMG_0018And the roses, which I brutally pruned in Autumn, are also coming freshly in to leaf.

IMG_0008The hydrangea is too.


While watching it from a nearby window is a vaseful of its dried hydrangea flowers.


And the Skimmia japonica ‘Fragrans’ is budding, although the only fragrans I could smell was the laundry powder on the sheets that a girl was hanging out on the back green washing line as I took the photos.


Finally, tonight is Burns’ Night, so,

‘Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,

And dish them out their bill o’ fare,

Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware

That jaups in luggies;

But, if ye wish her gratefu’ pray’r

Gie her a Haggis!’

Marching On

Spring is definitely here as far as I’m concerned! I mean, in a botanical and meteorological sense, even if not officially by the calendar. The sky is blue, the trees are budding, the birds are singing.

It seems I was too pessimistic too soon about the snowdrops… here is a picture of what they eventually looked like when they did come out. Aren’t they glorious! Not quite as majestically prolific and widespread as Left Neighbour’s, but much better than I thought they were going to be.IMG_0132

On the other hand, my crocuses have been most disappointing. I was greatly surprised when walking about the glorious, springy green meadows of Edinburgh to see that Edinburgh Council’s crocuses were out. The reason I was surprised was because my own crocuses still look like small shoots of grass. One or two have feeble, almost diseased-looking yellowish flowers, and not a pretty pale or delicious custard or vibrant taxi yellow either, but the yellow of ageing paper in a dusty attic.



I don’t know what special touch EC have applied to theirs, but the edges of the meadows are awash with great thick swathes of the most healthy, gay, preposterously, obscenely tumescent purple, yellow and white crocuses you have ever seen. In some parts you can’t even see grass among the great blocks of colour. My mother says that sunshine is the key, and I’d agree with her but for one factor, that my back garden is south facing and gets plenty of sun, and what’s more, there are flowering crocuses across the grass of the backgreen by a wall that shades themĀ  from most of the sun. So I reckon it was just a bad batch, or else I planted them to the wrong depth. If we are still living here next spring then we’ll be able to see if more time to settle in a bit more, talk through their problems, that kind of thing, puts them more in a flowering mood.

On a more positive note, look what my mother gave me for my birthday:


Did you know that it is bad luck to buy rosemary? So now I shan’t have to. I’ve wanted a rosemary plant for ages, as it is so perfect for salads, roasting and foccaccia. Rosemary is a Mediterranean plant and likes lots of sunlight, again not something my garden can provide much of all year round, but it is also quite hardy so I am hoping it survives any late frosts we have. Speaking of which, I have no idea how late a late frost can be in Edinburgh. Perhaps something I will learn this spring, especially if it catches my potatoes out when I plant them later on.