A day of contrasts

It’s been a day of contrasts – frost and ice first thing in the morning followed by glorious sunshine. Bella went out to check the ice on the pond, which was surrounded by frosty grass.

Meanwhile, at the back of the garden the sun was shining on the first daffodils.

Everything was glorious and I should have spent the day in the garden, or the allotment, or at the very least, sowing seeds indoors. Instead I made a trip to an out of town garden centre. I had a choice between going to one where I can get a bus more or less door-to-door or one which involves about three buses, one of which only runs on weekdays – or take my bike but didn’t feel up to that today. I opted for the direct, but rather long door-to-door bus route and the chance to use my shiny new old folks’ bus pass

This garden centre is a cathedral to consumerism. You could actually live there – along with plants and garden tools, it sells clothes, books, food, endless completely pointless knick knacks and it has a café which is probably bigger than the rest of the shop. However, it is a place full of memories. We used to live much nearer this garden centre and it was a favourite bus trip with my small boys for a wild day out. There was a time when we were a bit like the family in Sarah Garland’s fantastic book Doing the Garden. We would patronise the café, spend hours looking at the fish and the small furry creatures in the pet section (your pets’ needs can all be met there too). They would run round the sheds and garden buildings while I fantasised about summer houses and massive greenhouses. We would have our usual battle regarding vegetables or flowers (I wanted vegetables, they wanted more flowers). We usually returned home with a few pots of flowers to try and cram into our small garden. But now they’re all grown up. Today I was on a mission to spend – or at least think about spending – some gratefully received birthday garden tokens

I was tempted by more roses or fruit trees but decided that there might be better places to get these. The garden centre had enlisted the services of a giant bumblebee in a cunning new marketing ploy to sell some rather lovely violas.

I resisted, remembering that I have a pot full of self-seeded violas back at the house. I didn’t need yet another plastic tray when these lovely flowers will grow all on their own in the pots I already have. Hopefully the bees will also find their way to to my garden in due course.

In the end I got a couple of climbing evergreens – a ceanothus and a pyracantha – to try and patch up my ailing hedge and some new thymes and a sage to replenish the herb garden a bit. I’ve still got some tokens left so may make the bike trek out to the rather nicer garden centre on the other side of town, which I did once on a mission to buy roses and could do so again. By the time I had done all of this I was desperate to get my hands in the soil in my own garden so I hopped back on the bus with a bag full of plants. I planted out the new thymes and sage in a big planter and tidied up the rest of my potted herb garden. There are tiny signs of life in the mints and the tarragon. The chives are coming to life but everything was looking a bit pot-bound and covered in moss. I repotted some of them and topped them all up with a layer of compost.

It got suddenly cold and dark and I didn’t have time to plant out the new hedge plants or get round to any of the seed sowing that I had planned. There’s time enough for that.

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