To stand and stare

April can be a frenetic time in the garden – as soon as light levels and temperatures increase, there’s so much to be done. While it can be tricky to strike a balance between making adequate preparations for later in the season, and stopping for long enough to appreciate the wonders of the moment, it’s worth making the effort.
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Truly, I am a deplorable ingrate. At the very moment the world around me erupts into Glorious Technicolor, I – having spent the darker months bemoaning the short winter days in vigorous anticipation of superior vernal levels of illumination – begin to plan for summer. Were you Spring, you could forgive yourself for being a bit miffed.

To an extent this behaviour is inevitable – to garden with any degree of success you need to possess more than a passing awareness of what might by coming up around the corner. There’s no denying this is a busy time of year for the gardener, and so I stride with purpose along the path, flanked by emerging tulips and hydrangeas tentatively unfolding new leaves against the risk of a late frost, blind to all but the list of seeds yet to sow and summer lovelies to pot on in the greenhouse.

 A posy of weedy things.  Carex pendula    (cut the flowers off before they go to seed!) and hybrid bluebells

A posy of weedy things. Carex pendula (cut the flowers off before they go to seed!) and hybrid bluebells

I tick off the milestones in the gardening year as they appear in the borders – first snowdrops, winter aconites, then hellebores, epimediums, tulips and so on – an activity in which I receive wholehearted support from the gardening press.  And all the while a small voice within wonders whether this relentless acquisition of gardening events might look a little like the kind of compulsive consumerism I like to decry in other areas of modern life. That same voice suggests I might like to linger a while, pause in my busy-ness, and claim back a moment to savour the reappearance of each old friend.

Against this gentle suggestion, the other internal voice, the one that suggests there’s far too much to get done without having to hold a mini fête for every flower, seems rather mean-spirited. I can’t help but recall that half-doggerel couplet by William Henry Davies, one-legged Welsh poet and sometime super-tramp, who spent several years only a mile or so from here:

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

 The emerging shoots of  Paeonia  'Karl Rosenfeld'

The emerging shoots of Paeonia 'Karl Rosenfeld'

 Flower buds a few weeks back on  Amelanchier larmarckii . Or possibly  A. canadensis.  Noone really knows, though many like to pretend.

Flower buds a few weeks back on Amelanchier larmarckii. Or possibly A. canadensis. Noone really knows, though many like to pretend.

 The very gorgeous Tulip 'Queen of the Night'.  So bist du meiner Tochter nimmermehr .

The very gorgeous Tulip 'Queen of the Night'. So bist du meiner Tochter nimmermehr.

 Honestly, one of my favourites, for spring colour and summer seed pods. Bog standard  Lunaria annua , seed nicked from the gardens of our great friends Mab and Lou Burgess several houses ago.

Honestly, one of my favourites, for spring colour and summer seed pods. Bog standard Lunaria annua, seed nicked from the gardens of our great friends Mab and Lou Burgess several houses ago.

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