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March 2014

Warmest greetings to all my gardening friends!

Today's date is 11 March 2014. I'm sitting in the fruit garden and thinking of the song “If my friends could see me now” from the musical Sweet Charity. Shirley MacLaine sang about her friends seeing her “eating fancy chow and drinking fancy wine”. I'm thinking about if my friends could see me sitting here, on my knees, surrounded by a sea of crocuses.

The first crocuses to appear in our garden are usually the beautiful white crocus crysanthus Miss Vain. These are followed by many other varieties, such as crocus crysanthus Prins Claus (white with broad purple stripes) and the large white crocus vernus Jeanne d’Arc. I focus mainly on shades of white and purple. At the moment, one of my absolute favourite crocuses, Negro Boy, is in bloom. Despite the name, it isn't black at all; it is, however, claimed to be the darkest crocus in the world – a rich dark lilac colour. It's superb. Without exaggerating, I can easily say that just now there are many thousands of crocuses, of various sizes and hues, in bloom in the garden.

The feeling of sitting on the green grass, surrounded by a sea of crocuses, while the birds sing in the background, butterflies hurry in and out of view and bees buzz around  –and all of this as early as 11 March, with a temperature of 13 degrees and a blazing sun in the sky –is so magical. If they could see me now. Dear me, I could sit here the entire afternoon with a glass of wine in my hand and merely lap up everything that's happening around. Everything that was so recently dormant, the ground that has been grey and cold, is now lit up by thousands of crocuses...

The crocuses are, in fact, blooming 7-8 weeks earlier than usual. But I'm not complaining, since I don't think there’ll be any more winter and I'm managing to do so much in the garden. At the same time, I'm a little worried, since our first opening of the garden (for the benefit of the Red Cross) isn't until 27 April and the question is: what will be blooming then?

I attempt to do something in the garden every day (otherwise we couldn't have the garden as we have it) but at the same time it's important to take breaks, to take time to enjoy the garden, not just the gardening. To take in the scents, to see what nature is offering, to hear birds singing, and to take walks – all that is so important. And by the way: if you're taking a walk, keep the blasted earphones at home and listen to the birds instead!

... I'm now going to get up and leave the fruit garden. All around I see other plants just waiting for the season to get into full swing: the hyacinths are beginning to protrude from the ground, and the alliums are already up 10 cm. This truly is a time of wonderment. Certainly, having a garden involves a lot of work – that I can't deny – but I have great love for this place, so a bit of back pain is merely par for the course.

The violet blue-purple Tommasinianus Ruby Giant is another fantastic crocus that thrives in our garden. For some reason, I believe that here at Kungsvägen 10, Tumba we have perfect environment for growing crocuses, for there are masses of crocuses in places where I haven’t planted them and which have simply spread, self-sown, to an extraordinary extent. But we certainly don’t succeed with everything. Snowdrops for example aren't particularly fond of our garden (although we had a few beautiful clumps of snowdrops this year), not to mention lupins: our closest neighbours get masses of  lupins each year, whereas all of our endeavours to get lupins into the garden – in different places and different types of soil – have been in vain.

I'm now in the course of jotting down a few ideas about planting in the autumn. Where I see gaps in the garden, I think “Oh, I could plant this here and that over there, why haven't I thought of that before?” It's amazing that, after so many years, new ideas are always popping up; that's part of the fascination of having a garden, that ideas flow. Now, in March, it's a perfect time to start planning for autumn planting. Trust me, doing so pays in the long run.

Take care, all of you,

Greetings from Tumba

Stefan, A Gentleman Gardener