When Spring Comes to the Cottage Garden

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“Long before winter is ready to leave the cottage garden, spring has started to coax blossoms from the bare branches and the cold dark soil. Hazel twigs are hung with yellow ‘lamb’s tail’ catkins, and the mahogany wands of pussy willow are studded with beads of silvery white. Buds are plumping along the Chaenomeles’ knobby twigs, while below ground the multicoloured legions of spring  bulbs are on the march upwards towards the light.

“The mood of spring is urgent and vital. Almost imperceptibly the hours of daylight extend, and the midday sun climbs higher in the sky, bringing a welcome warmth in its rays. Each day brings new signs of re-awakening growth. It is a time of ‘firsts’–the first blue scillas like chips of sapphires, the first yellow primroses nestling amongst the dead leaves in the hedge banks, at the foot of trees,

and in shaded, cold and windswept places, the trailing green shoots of the lesser periwinkle are studded with flowers of blue or burgundy….

“As the days lengthen, buds swell along the twigs of cherry, rowan and crab, and break into tiny leaf in a multitude of tender shades of green, gold, and bronze….

“As the days lengthen, buds swell along the twigs of cherry, rowan and crab, and break into tiny leaf in a multitude of tender shades of green, gold, and bronze….

“New shoots of hostas, always scarred by frost, pierce the soil like sturdy spears of green and white or yellow, while around them wood anemones, ajugas and violets weave a tapestry of flowers and foliage.

“At the base of a sunny wall, orange and yellow tulips rise above misty blue forget-me-not, a perfect blend of elegant symmetry and informality….

“While not absent from the winter garden, fragrance, like colour, has been strictly rationed. Now spring makes amends by filling the garden with the scents of flowers and foliage…” The Cottage Gardener’s Companion, pgs. 8-9.