Saturday, 31 March 2012

Grow Your Own

I’m not a particular fan of the phrase ‘Grow Your Own’. Partly because it sounds like an instruction rather than an invitation (‘Have a Nice Day’ is similarly annoying), and partly because it sounds like something a particularly mean-spirited neighbour might bark at you across the garden fence after being asked if he could spare the odd brussel sprout from his massive glut of home grown produce, quite possibly preceded by an equally unfriendly invitation to ‘naff off’. But however I might feel about the term there’s no gainsaying a phenomenon which has seen an unprecedented increase in the demand for allotment space whilst providing a significant revenue stream for the publishing, horticultural and home improvement industries for the past few years. I do wonder, though, is it all marketing flim flam, tapping into our desire to escape from the rat race to live the good life but never really getting any further than Tom and Barbara, or is there really something of enduring substance behind the hype?

Monday, 26 March 2012

Final appearance

This weekend I finally got into my own garden to remove last year’s spent flowering stems, left standing over winter to provide some vertical interest and catch a dusting of frost when it visits. Sunflowers, rudbeckia and honesty, golden rod, echinacea, and straps of crocosmia leaves with jewel-like red seed bursting their pods. Recently, with bright green spring bursting out all around, their dun informality has seemed out of place. But a wheelbarrow full of them still makes for a pleasing show as they put in their final appearance, en route to the bonfire heap.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Dry spring

Fresh green buds breaking on the red stems of the dogwood Cornus alba 'Sibirica'

Mid March, unusually mild, and the sap is not so much rising as erupting, surging upwards through stem and branch and twig and rousing every bud it passes from its winter lethargy. With the exception of two days at the beginning of the month we’ve been spared the usual bitter winds, but we’ve also had yet another dry winter, with precious little rain forecast for the rest of the month.

But it shouldn’t be all doom and gloom for those who love their gardens.