Chronicle January 2009 | Chronicle February 25th 2009 | All Chronicles

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." Marcel Proust

10 feb 2009.

I can only say “AT LAST” — light has returned to our cold Nordic climes. 

I open the door, I close the door, and already feel that spring is on the way, even though we’ve had no real snow where we live. Everything in life is for better or worse, but it’s important always to look ahead. It’s now time to visit garden nurseries and plant shops and have a look at seeds, if you haven’t already done so.

Looking back, we’ve had quite a few dark winter months in which to ponder over our expectations for the coming season. But now there’s a sense of spring in the air and I’m going through my spring rituals: I’ve rinsed out the pots, I’m busy planting seeds, and I’m going around and checking what needs to be pruned, and what doesn’t. Why must apple and pear trees be pruned in February, as almost everyone in Sweden does?

That’s only an old saying – for the simple reason that in olden times gardeners had practically nothing to do in February. They needed to have something to do, even in the depths of winter. That’s where it comes from. I intend to do my pruning in the summer, instead. It works just as well to prune apple and pear trees in the summer, so wait with the pruning if you want, there’s no problem.

Now, at the beginning of February, I’m drenching my Agapanthus, which have spent a long winter imprisoned in our dark cellar. I’d better go down and have a look at them.

-Hello friends, hello, here you are. You’ve had no water for three months, but you’re still quite green. Now it’s time for a good drink of water and a bit of fertiliser, in other words a handful of Krysan. What a delicacy! Look after yourselves, Agapantus. Think that spring will soon be here. Please, don’t let me down in the summer.

Yes, there’ll be a spring this year, too, and out in the garden things are beginning to sprout, things are beginning to grow. There’s a hint of things to come. It’s just remarkable how the seasons simply pass by.

Funnily enough, it’s been as much fun taking away the spruce and pine branches that have filled our window boxes throughout the long winter, as it was putting them there in the autumn. Think of all the senses one experiences when spring begins to tingle in the air, when the birds begin to sing … don’t forget to feed the birds; February and March are hard times for them, with very little for them to eat. Keep feeding.

One other thing I’m dealing with at the moment. As I’ve said previously, I’m going to try growing globe artichokes, but also beans, and also sweet peas, which I haven’t had in the garden for many years. More about that later...

Goodness me! I’ve a feeling that it’s going to be a wonderful year for rhododendron and azaleas. The buds are quite amazing. I hope that you really watered them in the autumn (I know I did!) The autumn is now behind us and soon the winter will be as well, and although we’re barely into February, my body is atingle with a sense of spring.

Spring is on the way: plant, think about things, live in the here and now.

A Gentleman Gardener