Chronicle March 2010 | Chronicle May 2010

April 2010

It’s Saturday, 10 April. I’m stepping out into our little garden at quarter past six in the evening and can hear the birds still singing in the trees and bushes. Over the winter, we had lots of birds quietly feeding in the garden, but we were deprived of bird song. But now it’s started – the birds are calling out their presence and the garden is in song; it’s festive time in the bushes and trees.
Out in the garden, the snow has finally disappeared after the long, wretched winter here in the Stockholm area (and the rest of Sweden, for that matter). Mini-avalanches of snow from the roof have caused so much damage to the boxwood hedges near the house that I fear it will be difficult for them to recover. It’s been a truly awful winter and we deserve a better spring and early summer; time will tell.

As the snow is finally disappearing, things are happening - the garden is quickly coming to life and spring is on its way. As usual, the winter aconite has been the first plant to herald the approach of spring. One waits impatiently to see the first plant, one yearns for the first signs, and then everything happens so quickly.... We’ve enjoyed masses of winter aconite, but now they’re over. Yes, so far April 2010 has been a wonderful month in our modest garden here in southern Stockholm.

With the melting of the snow, it’s been possible to see the damage that has been caused to trees and bushes. There’s been quite a bit of it, and some of the roses have been hit particularly hard. Quite simply, the garden has suffered a real blow this winter. There’s not a lot that can be done about it. I know that I’m not alone in this, but there’s no real comfort in numbers and it’s still hard to see the damage. Still, as I often say, where gardening’s concerned, you’ve got to live on a fair measure of hope.

And then, as if to compensate for the damage, see what’s begun to bloom! THOUSANDS of crocuses. I’m not exaggerating! From the rear of the house, down to the fruit garden — 10,000 or so crocuses, in full bloom. I myself have difficulty in understanding how on earth I’ve managed to get all of those small bulbs down in the ground over the course of the years. It’s just as well that I’ve restricted the colour scale: my personal taste tends to white and pastel blues in the spring, and that’s exactly what’s blooming now. Thousands of crocuses - a mass volume producing a mass effect; it’s also doesn’t harm that a single botanical crocus produces 3-5 flowers from the same bulb.

I’m a great believer in planting in “waves” rather than straight lines; it’s just so much more interesting whatever’s being planted, but especially where crocuses are concerned. As I’ve already said, they’re mass planted in our garden. They look great and contribute to a wonderful spring feeling. It’s such a pleasure to stand and gaze (with a sense of reverence) upon the fantastic blooms, the ethereal green which is now showing itself, and the poppies that are now already 20-25 cm high. This year, so much growth has occurred beneath a blanket of snow, the like of which I’ve never experienced before. When the snow finally melted, I could only stand, stare and realise that thanks to the thickness of the snow, the ground hadn’t been frozen. As the snow melted, there were the alliums proudly proclaiming “Ha, ha, here we are”. They’d grown some 10 cm beneath the snow. Amazing.

It’s an April evening and I’m taking a stroll along the slate path which leads to the pond. There’s still something of a chill in the air; we’ve witnesses the return of light but not of warmth. I’ve now come to the pond and see that the goldfish have survived the winter. Thankfully, the pond never freezes to the bottom, and the air pump remains in operation throughout the winter. So the fish are there – hardly moving and still not eating, because the water is still so cold. But their sometime neighbours, the toads, have begun to move. And so, slowly but surely, the pond – like the rest of the garden – is beginning to return to life.

Birds singing throughout the garden after a winter of silence, crocuses blossoming everywhere... Expectations are so high –and shoots are expectantly sprouting up all around.
Unfortunately, the spring and the first blooming are over so soon. When standing at the rear of the house, it occurs to me that if I were to say to people “We’ve had thousands of white crocuses just here”, few would believe me. Fortunately, though, we have the photographs to show that it’s no exaggeration.

Dear me, I potter around the garden and think of all the things that MUST be done – there’s so much taking place at the moment. I’ve got to begin feeding the plants fertiliser, to begin raking, to begin putting things away. And bringing things out. The agapanthus that have spent the winter in the cellar and in the shed need to be brought out and given Chrysan fertiliser.  All the boxwood globes that have been dug down in the ground during winter now need to be dug up again and put in pots.
One thing I won’t be doing this year is planting seeds. Dear me, I’ve made lots of mistakes where seeds are concerned. But I am considering planting some beans. Beans are something I don’t want to be without – they look so festive when growing, and taste great – but otherwise...truth be told, I’m not very good at planting from seed. Quite simply, I want and prefer perennials. Hurrah for perennials!

Finally, back to my beloved crocuses- you have to look at the pictures on the website. So beautiful! I feel such a sense of humility. To think that it’s possible to satisfy all the senses through an interest in gardening, in causing things to grow. A garden, plants, growth... I believe that these give people strength. I believe that we need nature. There’s so much that we need, but nature is able to give us so much.

Spring greetings from

A Gentleman Gardener