Gardening in the time of Coronavirus is watching changes in minute detail. As spring arrived the garden leapt into life, I cleared away last year’s dead growth, and started a vegetable production line.
Leaving the stalks from various perennials over winter supposedly provides shelter to lots of insects. I didn’t notice many – maybe next year I should spend some time looking. Half of this went into the compost bin, the rest into a pile of logs and dead growth hidden away in a corner.
Having cleared it all away I set about moving a few plants around – a particularly gaudy Dahlia will move elsewhere, one Dogwood came out from behind some Salvia, and I’ve shifted the Rudbeckia into more defined clumps rather than trying to drift them through the flower bed – they just ended up dominating it.
I also mulched the bed with some well rotted manure and a few bags of Gro-Sure Smart Ground Cover. It seems very effective so far at keeping the soil moist, and all month spiders have been scuttling around on its surface and underneath.
While most of the garden looked much like this, more bulbs came into full flower. I’ve now got hundreds of Muscari in serried ranks, interspersed with Daffodils and – a new arrival – Fritillary. Some early white Tulips popped up in the front garden as the Comfrey started to flower, much to the delight of early bees, and the Marsh Marigold came into glorious flower in the small pond. By the end of the month the whole garden was thrumming with all kinds of bees, and lots of Dark Edged Bee Flies, which love getting their long proboscis into the Muscari flower heads.
Other slightly later-flowering plants began to show signs of blooms.
This will be the first year that our Amelanchier Lamarckii tree flowers – something I’m looking forward to. As we don’t get many birds in the garden – we’re surrounded by an ecological desert so they don’t tend to fly across to us – I’m hoping I might get to eat some of the blueberry-like fruit later in the year before birds nab the lot. At least I’ll get the apples – last year we harvested 30 from a few pot-bound trees and one in the front garden, all just getting established.
As the month dragged on, the COVID-19 news got worse and worse. By the end of the month we were in full lockdown. The trustees of the charity I head up decided to move to home-working a week before the Prime Minister announced the lockdown.
At first I really enjoyed being able to peruse progress in the garden day by day. Normally at this time of year it’s fairly dark by the time I get back from work, so I only really see things through the window in the morning, or at the weekends. But then I noticed a certain impatience, as changes seen thrice-daily take so much longer to unfold than if noticed once a week.
Perhaps it will be more enjoyable in April. I’ve started to plant peas, spinach, beetroot, carrots and mixed salad. Their quick growth and keeping the slugs and snails away will keep me well occupied.