Sunshine and snowdrops (and more rain)

As promised in my last blog, Galanthus nivalis have appeared – in fact they were visible just 24 hours after I wrote that. And as I write now the sun is shining, garden birds are active. I really ought to be outdoors, but that would be to overlook the past 24 hours of heavy rain, as well as the residual soddenness of the earth after the wettest January for decades.

A quick foray in my own garden was enough to persuade me that things are still so, so soggy (it was raining hard here only an hour ago) that anything beyond the most superficial work remains problematic. One step on a lawn leaves a water-filled bootprint, and borders are squelchy to say the least. And we live at the top of a (modest) hill, well above the valleys of Salisbury’s five rivers – Avon, Ebble, Nadder, Wylye and Bourne – below: all of which remain way above their normal levels. 

Standing up at Old Sarum on Saturday afternoon, one could look down at the Avon and see how it had overflowed its banks all the way up to Stratford-sub-Castle and beyond to the north. Even the raised boardwalks along the riverside through the Avon Nature Reserve have been flooded and remain closed.

So a few snowdrops are a welcome sight, as are the green spikes of other bulbs. Even the large clump of Hemerocallis outside my back window is showing plenty of growth. There is a real sense that spring is happening as the days lengthen away from the Solstice – and that just adds to the frustration of not being able to get on with things properly. Just as last year’s extended cold period meant that all of spring was squeezed into what felt like about a fortnight, I fear the wet might do the same in 2014.

At least the greenhouse is a dry haven, and overwintered plants in there are looking fine. I am holding off sowing any seeds just yet, as light levels remain relatively low, temperatures are not great (the greenhouse is unheated), and it’s too wet to plant things out and make room for seed trays as yet. But I do have some very nice seeds which came from my Seedy Penpal – as part of the scheme organised by the redoubtable Carl Legge. Gilly sent me a number of packets – some for the school garden, some for the allotment, and some for home. I am particularly looking forward to growing Asparagus Peas, and might get a sowing of those into the heated propagator sooner rather than later. 

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