February Blues

It’s a funny time of year for us. It’s not yet spring, Christmas is well gone (just credit card bills to pay), St Valentine’s day is around the corner, and we’ve been doing some early spring cleaning. That has involved cleaning windows, moving all the furniture, dusting, polishing, washing walls and not least calling in a professional carpet cleaning company. It’s lovely to have a fresh-smelling house but outside everything is still looking a bit grim.

When the sun shines I realise how tatty everything is looking. I’ve been a bit lazy and neglected to empty all the pots from last summer. So many of them sport dying, sad-looking plants that will never revive. But a few contain hardy plants and shrubs like roses and fuschias that should bounce back in the spring.

I’ve seen a few snow drops and I’m sure daffodils are beginning to appear, although the only ones I’ve seen are the pot I have on my window sill and the vase on the kitchen table!

But within the next few weeks a few more spring plants will start to show, including beautiful crocus and primroses. These spring flowers are so delicate in lovely shades of mauves and yellows. I always pick a small bunch of primroses to place in a blue and white vase on the dresser. They last quite a while and cheer the room.

Vulnerable plants still need protecting from frost and snow should be knocked off shrubs and plants to avoid broken branches.

It’s also getting to the time of year when overgrown shrubs and hedges can be trimmed into shape. So there’s still plenty to do in the garden, even though we may be reluctant to brave the cold!

It’s been a beautiful day today, despite the cold winds, and I’ve noticed a lot of grass sprouting in the gravel driveway. It’s surprising how this is taking over this year and I fear I’ll need to spray with weedkiller before long. It needs a dry spell, of course, to avoid the chemicals being washed away by rain. Much as I hate to apply strong chemicals in the garden, I’ve never found another way to keep the drive under control. It’s just too back-breaking to pick out every blade of grass by hand – we have a long drive!

The one thing that bothers me is our lovely spring bank. It’s usually covered in primroses, then the bluebells take over with the odd daffodil scattered around. And amongst the native flowers are a couple of spectacular camelias, followed in June by a large purple rhododendron.

But at the end of last summer we had a fence erected all along our boundary, inside the hedge. That involved a lot of bank trampling, which I fear has killed some of those spring flowers that have been arriving without fail every year since we moved here in the 1980’s.

So it’s with bated breath that I await the spring to see how many have survived. I’ll be devastated if they primroses don’t appear, though I’ve more faith that many of the bluebells will be ok, given that their bulbs are quite a way underground.

Only time will tell and I’ll be back to let you know how we fare.

Iris

In Chailey, East Sussex, there is a farm that specialises in bearded irises. And what wonderful beauties they are.

bearded iris 2This photo demonstrates how the bearded lily gets its name, with it’s hairy appearance.

May brings some wonderful shows of irises, not least at the National Trust property at Wakehurst Place, where we love to admire the beautiful lily garden.

A visit to any National Trust garden isn’t complete, of course, without having tea or lunch.  Although they’re not quite up to the standard of years ago when everything was home-made, you can still get a nice snack at all the gardens I’ve visited.

 

Welcome

I’m Sally Furnival and I always wanted to be a florist.

It’s a bit late now though because I’m in my (ahem) 70’s so I’m not about to start a new career anytime soon.

cottage garden

But I do have a lovely garden and I’m passionate about growing English flowers and trees. I love and admire those beautiful cottage gardens, though I’m afraid I’m no Gertrude Jekyll!  She had a wonderful way with planting that just eludes me. But I do have a lot of planters and hanging baskets in the summer and I try to find traditional plants that produce great flowers. Continue reading