Evening Sky

This I saw on an April day:

Warm rain spilt from a sun-lined cloud,

A sky-flung wave of gold at evening,

And a cock pheasant treading a dusty path

Shy and proud

James Hearst (1900 – 1983)


March closed with a beautiful warm, dry day; a day for weeding, hoeing, raking and tidying. Sowing seeds and preparing the ground, potting on and preparing plants for others. With warmer, longer days; the garden has exploded into life and I’m running trying to catch up! This is the time of year I search the ground for new for seedlings, identifying the weeds, distinguishing the similar plants, as the gales and crows have removed all the plant tags. Enjoying the new leaves and colours, Burdock pale and green, trimmed in white; identifying the paler, smaller leaved globe artichoke from the statuesque cardoon. Weeding and feeding, top dressing, labelling, pricking out and potting on for other gardens and gardeners.

Following a mild winter some plants have been growing well for the past few weeks, angelica looks lovely in the morning sun, this year I’m determined to make some candied stems. Sweet Cicely is popping up all over the place, not everyone likes its aniseed taste but it works well as a natural sweetener for rhubarb. Agrimony sends up bright green feathery leaves, in a few more weeks its yellow flowers will adorn the tall flower spike and later still the seeds will stick to any passing being to be transported other parts of the garden. Walking round the garden I find new angelica plants and sweet Cicely is prolific around the garden…

Gathering the seeds in the autumn, cleaning and carefully labelling, I sowed the red and white hollyhock seeds yesterday and then promptly mixed up both trays – oh well it will be a surprise! Sweet violets spread by stolons but the snails really love them, surrounding each little plant with gardener’s grit seems to help plus a little assistance from my feathered friends. From the small plants brought from the city there are now several Lemon balm plants in the garden, on warm summer evenings I love the smell of crushed leaves added to a long cold drink. One large plant ย needs dug up and divided as the centre has become woody and bare.

Feverfew with its bright, yellow-centered daisy like flowers will spread everywhere if allowed but its cheerful and looks lovely in a vase. Traditionally used to treat migraine and rheumatic aches it’s a useful addition to the herb garden and attracts many different pollinators. Not to be confused with German chamomile; the taste is very, very different! Another plant I wouldn’t be without is Californian poppy. I love its deeply divided, orange-tinged foliage, followed by the bright orange poppy flowers. Hoverflies and bees love the plant and it will self-seed easily if the conditions are right but may need re-seeding after a cold winter. That little red leaved plant sharing the picture with feverfew is St John’s wort, it will also spread everywhere the seed blows so you do need to be ruthless and pull out or give away plants, if the garden is not to be overwhelmed with it. But after the fox visited it provided the perfect cover for our remaining Lohmann brown hens.

So, here we are in April; the wind is gusting, rain battering the window, sky and sea meld into one grey backdrop, only the white cascading waves differentiate one from the other. As I read in the paper this morning:

Aye, ye can tell summer is coming, the rain is getting warmer!’

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