I don’t know about you, but for me this winter seems to be taking its time. I know it has been mild (and wet…..) and daffodils have been reported to have pushed their golden petals above the soil as early as Christmas. But still. It feels to me as if the sun is being a bit slow to get going. Perhaps she’s engrossed, as the rest of us have been, in Happy Valley and is doing that “just one more episode….” thing before she properly gets her hat on and comes out to play.
There have been a few hints at warmer weather though, and it was during one of these that I sat on our sofa, both kids slumbering (the sick day…..see my post Messy Play for sordid details) enjoying her first few warming rays and looked out wistfully into the garden wishing it was time to get out there and get going. Of course I do realise that the stoic gardeners amongst us are already getting out there and getting going…..but I’m not one of those. I’ll happily potter in the Summer rain but not the Spring cold. So whilst it probably IS time to get veg beds prepared, apple trees pruned and the flower beds weeded in prep for summer, I’m certainly not going to. I need the temperature to be at least above freezing before my wellies go on and I pick up a spade.
But from my cosy vantage point of the sofa I did notice that the garden has survived the winter rather better than I’d hoped. The beds are looking semi-decent and even some of my pots are still alive and well. Daffs are pushing up past a dormant fuchsia within a chimney pot container we have in one corner of the patio and my favourite rose coloured heuchera is still going strong despite the frost. The climbers….in particular the honeysuckle, climbing hydrangea and clemetis seem to have rooted well and are budding promisingly and a few of last year’s Autumn-planted bulbs are reappearing despite having not been topped up this time around.
The veg patch, however, lies vacant……protected (sort of) from number-twoing cats, (of which our garden plays host to several) by horizontal trellis and awash with thin sticks blown from the neighbour’s trees. The resident wildlife are thrilled by this and are busily using them to build nests …..in fact Baby A and I watched in wonder as a bird to-ed and fro-ed purposefully the other morning. But whilst we enjoyed the opportunity to watch nature at such a close range, it was also a sharp reminder that I really need to don my gloves and get outside to clear and ready our patch. A gathering of the twigs, sweep up of the paving and gravel and the emptying of a bag or two of manure are really all that’s needed but even that modest spring clean feels like too much to ask when I’m still sleeping under a 13.5 tog duvet.
The lawn, unlike the rest of the garden, sadly hasn’t survived winter so well. Whilst this isn’t so evident from my seated position inside, the minute one takes a stroll to the shed its fairly clear that in actual fact it’s probably in breach of the Misdescription Act to even call it a lawn. There’s barely a tuft of grass left……despite having had it turfed two years ago. O’s second birthday was a teddy-bears picnic situated on the newly laid Teletubbie-like lush, green, thick grass and we’d had as many compliments on the grass as we had on the spread of food I’d agonised and stressed over. (“Let’s keep it simple”, I’d thought in an insane, anxiety-driven state, “and only make three kinds of fresh hummus….” before I’d broken down and sobbed in a quivering mess on S’s shoulder propelling him to rush out for an emergency M&S cake as my ‘build your own birthday cupcakes’ were a wanna-be-superhero-mum step too far…).
The sight of our now patchy lawn, which looks as (un)healthy as next doors (who tried admirably and unsuccessfully to seed theirs and ohhhhhhhhhhh how we gloated as our rolls of ready-made were carried in) is a sorry sight indeed. So sorry that it makes S cross the moment he steps outside and onto it.
‘We should have looked after it better” he mutters, slamming the bifold doors behind him. “I’ll call my dad and ask him what to do.”
So on Mothering Sunday, when I made noises about going to the garden centre for manure (because that’s the sensible thing to do……buy s**t on the one day of the year you are officially allowed to put your feet up) S didn’t persuade me not to. Instead he packed the kids into the car on the promise that we’d play football in the park afterwards (a promise we reneged upon due to tiresomely torrential rain) and off we went. Manure, however, wasn’t bought and far more in keeping with the day, flowers were.
“Let’s get some lello ones” said O. “And pink. And white.”
So together we filled a basket with pansies, ivy, primrose and an almost neon purply-pink pot plant. S, having perused the aisle of grass seed, chucked a bag of confidently bragging “Supreme Green with rootgrow” into the trolley and home we somehow managed to go…..without the manure as it transpired that even with the ingredients of my window boxes…..a project I reckoned I could perhaps manage in the chilly weather……..we had already over-estimated the size of our car now two child seats and a pushchair take up all the available space.
The next day I busied myself, as Baby A dutifully slumbered, planting up my window boxes and refreshing a couple of the patio pots.
This weekend O watered them (as they…and our windows… needed that, like a hole in the proverbial).
Meanwhile, in contemplation of our dire lawn, I’ve reached for the picture that I seem always to gravitate to when I need garden inspiration, of a figure of eight lawn as found in the Matt James City Gardener book. I’m wondering if an adaptation of the design….perhaps the first ‘teardrop’…. might give us an option to sort out the shady area under our fruit trees as well as giving us an easier grass-cutting job by lining the shape with bricks or slates. My in-experienced feeling is that the design works so well because of the focal points the sculptures and hanging chair offer as well as that gorgeous emerging brick wall (which, sadly, is not an option now we have perfectly good retaining walls already built), so of course my mind is awash with ideas to somehow replicate that or at least do something inspired by it. But whether I can convince S that a reduction in size of our (already) mini-football pitch is a good idea is yet to be seen.
“What do you think Daddy would like for his birthday?” I asked O this morning at breakfast.
“Um……” O cast his eyes around the room for inspiration, landing eventually on the view outside. “A lawnmower.”
S, sipping his coffee, sighed at the reminder of the outstanding issue.
“But Daddy” O said reassuringly “it would be a flying one that pulled all the grass up and zapped it.”
S looked marginally more interested.
“Well I’m sure Grandad would like that idea .” I’d agreed. “He hates our one and keeps saying you need a proper one that plugs in.”
S put down his cup.
“Come on son. We’re late for rugby……”