Garden cheer

a wheelbarrow full of hydrangea flowers picked for drying to make wreaths for Christmas

I’m looking through the window at another dreary evening, waiting for it to be dark enough for my chickens to head into their house, so that I can shut them safely in for the night and then relax, all my outdoor chores done. I find these short days depressing and make a real effort to go out every day, for at least a wander round the garden even if I don’t do much more. Inevitably the weather doesn’t seem as bad when you are out in it, and there are always things to see and make note of. I noticed yesterday that we already have some primroses in flower, and bulbs are popping up all over the garden. A cold snap will certainly slow things down but meanwhile the primroses are very welcome harbingers of spring.  

I do have hundreds of bulbs to plant and have been in denial for some weeks, but now I have to get down to it and the few bright sunny days are very welcome. It’s much easier to head out into a dry bright day even if the ground is still very wet. Small bulbs need dealing with first, as they dry out very quickly, so crocuses, grape hyacinths and some specie tulips were the first to go in. I am planting up a few terracotta pots with dwarf Iris and miniature narcissus to place on a small table just outside my kitchen door, to cheer me up through the early months of next year. The last bulbs we plant are the tulips in pots; we don’t usually start planting them up until December. There is a nasty fungus that can attack tulips and it helps to prevent it by planting them nearer Christmas when the soil is colder. Although I am quite reluctant to put my boots on some days, it does help to have a project in mind. I have been clearing Ivy from under some trees in order to prepare the ground for planting bulbs and I have really enjoyed the task. It has been very satisfying to pull away the ivy and weeds and reveal bulbs shooting through that I planted in previous years, as well as make space for more. It has also been quite a workout. I find that being among the trees is very calming. 

This is the time of the year we tend to look back and reflect on our gardening year, and what a year it has turned out to be. We could barely have imagined what was ahead of us this time last year and for many people it has been very difficult. We all have worries and anxieties and I have never felt more grateful for the peace I have found in my garden.

Jean Perry

Jean Perry is the owner of Glebe Gardens in Baltimore in West Cork.

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