A GARDENER’S ODYSSEYAli Barwani
As gardeners we have the good fortune of being able to escape lockdown restrictions by working and relaxing in our own horticultural havens: from gardens, patios to balconies. Those who lack outdoor space can still enjoy spring’s glories by tending a window box, planter or hanging basket. Even if your gardening activities are limited to indoors because your flat has no outdoor space then houseplants can feed the need to nurture.
Gardening helps us maintain mental and physical wellbeing, also providing us with fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables for the kitchen, and flowers for the home.
“So while you think you are caring for your garden, the truth is that your garden is caring for you.”
A major gardening highlight that has been cancelled and one that we were looking forward to this year, was the visiting period for the National Garden Scheme (NGS). The mad April dash to visit as many spring gardens as possible, coincides with the start of the stampede to Britain’s garden centres for summer bedding and vegetables plants.
So what is the thwarted gardener to do now that they can no longer visit their local, friendly, well-stocked garden centre or take inspiration from spring garden visits? Well, luckily we’re still allowed out for some daily exercise and to buy essential food supplies.
During these expeditions try to take the opportunity to admire what’s around you, like a thirsty desert voyager spying an oasis. This is a great way of keeping a finger on the pulse of the season, and for getting some much needed fresh air and exercise. It will remind you which plants are now in bloom, and what beauties you can add to your own plot in the future. You can always save this information to draw up your plant wish list.
This month, Pieris, Amelanchier, Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Magnolias, and other flowering shrubs have been amazing. Among the bulbs: tulips are now weaving a tapestry of colour across the gardens just as the narcissi finally begin to brown and crisp. Flowering cherry trees too are having their brief moment to do their party piece before the rough winds we’ve been experiencing strip them of their delicate petals and gather them in pale drifts across lawns and pavements. The ground has also been carpeted with primroses and primulas, perhaps as a result of the long-wet winter?
We’re just beginning to spot the bowl like blooms of peonies appearing here and there, something that is forever a joy to see. It’s always interesting to look at what other people are growing in their front gardens, rather like spying. You can often find plants that you’ve never seen before, or spot tender plants that you never knew you could grow outside in England. For instance, we’ve noticed a substantial amount of avocado trees growing outdoors in London.
So, why not use your exercise excursions to do some safe plant spotting. Please send us images of the horticultural beauties you have observed on your walks, and the plants doing well in your own gardens. Be sure to visit our Facebook and Instagram accounts where we can help you identify any mystery plants you’ve come across – and where we will share images of the plants we have admired, as well as the photos you have sent us.