Primroses and daffodils are beginning to take centre stage| Phil Calvert
As everyday passes, rain or shine, something new makes an appearance in our garden.
The snowdrops have been magnificent, and whilst still covered in lots of flower, and they will continue flowering for a while yet, they are starting to lose just a little bit of their dominant vibrancy as new contenders for centre stage make an appearance.
Crocus pop up here and there, but their glory days are fairly short-lived, and so the main candidates for taking the starring role in my garden are the primroses and the daffodils.
My rockery has a nice little colony of pale yellow 'wild' primroses that seems to come from nowhere, punctuated here and there with the stronger yellows of my miniature daffodils, whilst nearby the fern-like leaves of pink-flowered corydalis are busily filling in any remaining gaps.
Be in no doubt they are involved in a race to do what they do as best they are able before they themselves start to fade as new kids on the block steal the show.
Their urgency to grow and flower quickly is well placed, as even now the Dog Tooth violets, Spanish bluebells, the hostas, and some ferns are just pushing through. From a gardener's point of view, however, it is an exciting time as each day brings with it something new and beautiful to admire and enjoy. It is an ever changing scene and my favourite time of year.
It is a slightly different story in my back garden. Here too, miniature daffodils are coming into flower but with a bigger plot, I've introduced several different varieties of daffodils with varying heights and flowering times.
The varieties "Tête-à-tête", Jetfire, and (the optimistically named) February Gold are all flowering strongly or in heavy bud. Their larger cousins are still in bud but bulking up nicely.
I love popping outside each morning to see how things are progressing and I notice the tulips are pushing through too, so fingers crossed for a good show in a couple of weeks perhaps.
More dramatic for now are the alarmingly fast appearance of the Fritllaria 'Crown Imperials already six inches high surrounded by a smattering of Aliiums. They will dominate the show until the summer perennials take over.
Summer!!! It may seem a long time off but the Phlox and Delphiniums are peeping through too. I really needed to get on with cleaning the greenhouse to get it ready for the tidal wave of plants Wifey produces in our conservatory. Styling and refinement are brushed aside as the rug is rolled up and trays of seedlings are appear in abundance.
This prompted me to roll my sleeves up and start setting up the greenhouse for the season.
We had a bit of whitefly in there last year and I was dreading the inevitable janitorial fragrance I take on with the recommended scrubbing with brush and detergent to reduce pest problems for this year, but then Wifey suggested steam cleaning it.
A nice idea, or at least it would be if I owned a steam cleaner. Only then was I directed to the back of the under stairs cupboard, where to my amazement amongst the bags for life and standard clutter was a steam cleaner dating back to the time when the kids were young but then forgotten for years.
Well, I was in my element, and I spent a happy three hours playing with my new toy blasting greenery off the glazing, sterilising all the nooks and crannies and generally getting the place ready for the new season. Brilliant.
The downside was the unplanned sauna experience that was part of this procedure and I had to pop outside to cool off on several occasions, on one of which I spotted three large raptors circling above, one peeling off to invite a pigeon to join him for dinner that night, an invitation successfully declined. I think they were Common Buzzard and a fascinating sight.
Anyway job done. The greenhouse is ready to go and so if the weather is as wet and windy as forecast I may start setting up my trays, tubs and supports for this seasons tomatoes. Far too cold for growing tomatoes without heat just yet, but back in the conservatory the young tomato plants Wifey is growing are coming on nicely. Exciting times!