Tulipa hageri ‘Little Beauty’

Ups and Downs of Gardening

Surely April and May are the two trickiest months of the year?   ‘Hooray’ we say with a light heart, ‘it is warm and just as spring should be’;  every plant is opening its arms to welcome the sun and its warmth.  Fleeces come off, birds sing and we happily turn our attention to feeding the roses, pruning the late starters like penstemon, ceratostigma, caryopteris, cultinary sage and artemisia, thoroughly enjoying being a gardener.     A few hours later it is hailing, snowing, blowing a gale:  greenhouses are shut tight again, fleeces are returned to do their duty, cast over plants whose lovely new growth is likely to be frozen in its infancy; the skies become dark and so does our mood. 

Malus Floribunda buds

But actually this is typical of these two months and if it was remorselessly dry, all we would think about, I am sure, would be the anxious wait for water… The answer must surely be to have a list of things to do and pick off the jobs suitable for the weather but not to give up  – weeding can be miserable in the wind and rain but potting on seedlings or sowing seeds in modules or repotting or topdressing houseplants can be thoroughly good for the morale.

Gardening is so full of delights and for all of us, pitfalls too:  Just this morning I discovered that – it must have been pigeons – had been fighting and flapping about over the young growth of a new acer and broken every single new shoot off it – all the sweet young leaves were lying with their torn ends like a mulch around its base.   A netted cage was rapidly made to cover and protect the young tree from further destruction and I was sorely tempted to buy an air rifle!   But just beside the acer I spotted on a bank, first the emerging blossom of Malus floribunda and then beneath it, species tulips almost exactly the same colour (Little Princess I think they are, no Tulipa hageri ‘Little Beauty’) just pushing through the earth – it is a magical moment when plants re-appear to bejewel another part of the garden – so for this gardener like so many others, there were ups and downs in one morning of sunshine and hail.

Also in Gardening: Showing and Growing Herbs

Griselda Kerr
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Griselda Kerr

If not in her Melbourne garden, author Griselda is probably designing, judging, writing or talking about gardening.

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