At last, I have stepped into the garden. The new (temporary) teaching job I started in November, in a public school’s international French section, as well as the storms unleashed upon us, kept me from coming out and greeting the first signs of the growing season. As soon as February appeared, I could feel the deep surge of Spring – that distant first call the June Solstice shouts from days to come – billowing in my blood and in nature around me. There was sadness at the thought I wouldn’t find the time and the mental disponibility to let it flow from me into words. February is the time of the year when words are given, when one has been thinned enough from days of darkness and stillness to let whatever is asking to become manifest do so with the least effort. It’s that light stretching in the sky, pure and almost heatless – and suddenly our minds and bodies remember the shores of Summer, the rising laughter of the waves, the verticality – midi.

And so I went out today and planted a geum Sunrise which had patiently waited rootbound in a small pot all Winter. Incredibly, whereas neighbours have lost fences, greenhouses, tiles and sheds, Ciara and Dennis have passed without causing any damage in my garden. Even the tarpaulin which covers the crumbling shed is still in place. And so iris reticulata, hellebores, lungworts and primroses are faithful to the call. The first small tête-à-tête daffodils are opening. The rabbit-ear leaves of alliums Purple sensation are a hand high, whilst alliums christophii are just piercing the ground. Some fritillaria meleagris look ready to flower when others are still cowering underground. Amazingly, the eremurus I had dug up last Summer and left for weeks dumped in front of the shed door, in full sun, without any protection, before finally replanting it in a largish pot, is alive and preparing to leaf out. Whether it flowers in a few months remains to be seen, but I am, as always, optimistic. The first Japanese maple to leaf out will be gorgeous Katsura, just like last year.

It will be the first Spring for the newly laid-out garden. You may remember I cut the “lawn” last April back to a central grassy path with stepping logs. I am glad I did it then as my work won’t allow me to do anything more than minimal deadheading and weeding this coming Spring. As usual, I planted faaaar too many plants for the space available – not to mention the fact I foolishly shook forget-me-nots seedheads almost everywhere. I will let them battle it out and see what needs to be removed and given away. I imagine my plants are actually letting out a sigh of relief that I won’t be there to endlessly move them at the wrong time whilst admonishing them if they consequently fail to perform. Seize your chance, little garden…

Katya, whom I feel like introducing as my friend even though I only know her through her beautiful blog (but those links woven through words can be meaningful in a way “real life” connections often fail to be), writes about the death of a dear ivy. I feel all the sadder that I had a go at mine – ivy grows (grew) on the left and the right handside of my narrow plot, a haven for robins and blackbirds. The two ivies and I have fought for space over the years, and I have consistently been defeated, either engulfed by the very large dark leaves or left with an unsightly half-rotten fence covered in grey dusty ivy branches. The ivy on the right handside had to go because the fence was collapsing. The other, I cut back to the height of the fence and stripped as much as possible last Autumn. None of them is dead and without a doubt, as soon as I turn my back, they will reestablish their claim. I have left a section for the birds, but… yes, it is mean of me. Alas, my garden is small and I do want to grow other things…

But the joy I want to share is that we have what my son believes to be two male common frogs in our tiny pond ! They look quite big as well ! One even tried to get into our kitchen on Saturday night, when Dennis was blowing our heads off. Seeing him wave hello at the French window made us all so happy. We opened the door, had a chat, my husband even offered a lift in the dustpan to the pond, but Mr Frog decided to hop leisurely in the howling wind towards the bench. Unfortunately, I spotted something else earlier today, which dived as soon as it caught sight of my looming shadow. It had a tail. It must be a newt. It will eat whatever frogspawn we are blessed with. But hey, that’s life…





5 thoughts on “First gardening day (hello newt)

  1. Sir Isaac can’t eat frog spawn that is taken indoors to hatch! Do say if you don’t get any and we’ll hope to have some to spare. But the frogs have found your pond after just a year, felicitations! Their wives may come too. I’ve done the deed on our ivy but still have some cover for the robins and dunnocks to build in. Enjoy half-term!

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  2. It is very kind of you to mention me in this beautiful springtime post, thank you! And the ivy… oh well. It’s not dead and I am afraid it will indeed come back with a vengeance, you have left a shelter for the birds, it may still serve the greater purpose, that’s more than most ivies can hope for 🙂 I am full of admiration you have made it into the garden these days – the rain and wind have been rather atrocious this side of La Manche. So much going on in your garden, too! It will be interesting to see how the battle of plants will play out but I am slightly sad that there will be no more games of musical chairs, I felt I was not alone in my preoccupation 🙂

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