Focus on the Flowers

I started this week’s blog many times and from many angles, but found it hard to settle on a topic. The riots in Belfast are most unsettling. But I don’t want to write a political post. It’s too complex, too frustrating, too anger-inducing. It feels like these riots are happening in a parallel universe, and in many ways, they are.

When I left the house for my morning walk, the air was cool, crisp and invigorating. The sky was bright and blue and filled with birdsong – they had the volume turned up to 11! There was that damp-soil smell that makes you inhale and go “ahhhhh’. A far cry from the scenes of a bus burning on the Shankill Road in Belfast. (How many nurses salaries or elective surgeries would the cost of a new bus cover?)

I enjoyed my walk and was on the last stretch for home when I passed a house getting renovated. All the windows were open as the workmen set about their job accompanied by the usual too-loud radio. As I strode past, the newscaster’s words, ‘water cannons in Belfast’ broke through into my universe. It felt like a scene from one of those movies/tv-shows set during the Troubles where they used news footage to set the stage.

By the time I got home, I had decided that garden therapy was called for.

Armed with my camera, I set about focusing on my flowers.

Tulips in the rain
Daisies awaking
Tears from a tulip?
Taking turns – how the hyacinths then the lilies (buds in the background)

This week had been tense in the garden, too, as it happens. The unseasonally cold dip in temperatures means that my frost tender plants like sunflowers and courgettes have had to be protected. I had hoped to put them in the ground over Easter, but no… not worth the risk of losing them – and it is rather early. I am an impatient gardener.

I’m happy to report that the courgettes not only made it but have produced flower buds – of course, this may be a dying plant’s last stand but we’ll see.

The sunflowers are a bit battered from the wind but their final destination is very sheltered and I think I’ll risk it and plant them out this weekend.

I kept my seedlings in the wheelbarrow so I could move them indoors quickly – mostly lobelia and petunias here that I started from seed because the garden centres are still closed due to covid regulations. Usually, I cheat and buy them half-reared!

The mangetouts are loving their life behind glass. These are old kitchen unit doors that make a good mini-greenhouse.

The peach tree is protected too.

It’s doing marginally better than last year – surviving enough for me not to take it out and replace it with a fruiting cherry, but not robust enough to reward me with any peaches…

The unprotected sweetpeas look a bit spindly on it.

And the sugar snaps are a bit so-so… but the garlic (in the background) is doing great.

As are the onion sets are going well – it’s my first year growing these kind of onions in this garden.

And surprisingly – even with the cold temperatures some seeds have germinated in the soil … from top to bottom of the picture we have pak choi, lettuce and beets. (All broadcast – it’s a lazy and effective way to sow seeds in my opinion.)

I love how the mixed lettuce seed dicotyledons are already the colour their true leaves will be.

I’m happy to see flower seeds doing well here too, with the promise of candy tuff (the rounder leaves) and california poppy (the long thin shoots).

And speaking of promises… the buds on this clematis.

And raspberries yet to come…

These Beauty of Bath apple blossoms deliver during two seasons – summer blossom and autumn fruit.

A chive flower bud looks glossy and sleek before it lets it all hang out with a fluffy lilac flower later. Chives are a great addition to any flower border. You can eat them and they have pretty flowers. You can expect to a picture of this in full bloom when the time comes.

The purple sprouting broccoli is living up to its name.

And I’ve already eaten my first rhubarb of the season.

While I was out taking pictures my robin sat in the water dish and cheeped at me with great indignation because the bird feeder was empty.

I refilled the bird feeder and was rewarded with attendance right away – they must have been hungry this morning. The garden was so peaceful with the birdsong and distant lawn mowing that I felt a recording would capture it best. So if your like me and the news is making your blood boil, take a minute and listen to the birdsong and hopefully, it will bring the ould blood pressure down. I’ll leave this with you and hope you stay safe and at peace.

Byddi Lee