Saturday, 30 March 2013

Forcing spring

Monty Don strode purposefully down his paths on Gardener's World last night, extolling the beauty of his primroses and plucking a tiny posy for his easter table. Lucky devil.  Would love to be plucking bunches of mine, but they are still firmly buried a week after the last mighty snowfall. I'm starting to seriously wonder if my April stall is going to be viable three weeks from now.  I think I'll give it another week and make a decision then.

The only chink of colour in a fairly bleak gardening picture appeared in my cold frame this week - in December, Spalding sent me some free bulbs to blog about, and my first daffs of the year have finally emerged from the ones I planted in the greenhouse on Boxing Day. It is nice to have something to brighten up the house for Easter even though these little tete a tete  daffodils are usually out by the end of February.  The fact that they are late arrivals makes them all the more welcome. Not a single outdoor daffodil is in bloom yet, though some are resolutely starting to fill out their buds.

yellow tete-a-tete mini daffodils flowering at easter in a shallow terracotta plantpot topped with moss and some chicks from the pound shop!  Mossy magnolia branches in bud surround the pot.

I'm also having a go at forcing magnolia branches, having rescued a heap of them from a recent local casualty. The heavy, pearlescent white and pink flowers of the gorgeous spreading magnolia tree just around the corner put on a stunning show every spring but some of its heavily budded boughs have succumbed to the weight of the accumulated snow. On seeing piles of branches on the lawn, I thought what a shame it was, but after chatting with the owner and collecting some of them up, I realised the full extent of the tree's injuries - perhaps not life-threatening, but still fairly major - one of the branches which came off must be about a foot in diameter.  

I got buckets of beautiful lichen-covered branches with furry buds which look like pussy-willow on steroids.  Lovely in their own right, but if I can get encourage them to open, they'll be magnificent.  Don't know if they are really far along enough to develop, but I'll give them a few weeks to have a go.  In the meantime, their sculptural form adds a little interest to the mantlepiece.

Mossy magnolia branches in a cream coloured jug

While I envy Monty his primroses in the current conditions,  he has at least inspired me to go out an get some more corrugated plastic sheeting to construct a temporary cold frame in the corridor between the garage and the greenhouse - at least its the kind of project which makes you feel like you are moving forward in the growing stakes despite the eternal winter.


  1. We have some forsythia we brought indoors that look like they are getting ready to bloom in a couple days.

    1. It's just so nice to have some colour somewhere! Hope it opens for you soon.

  2. I hope your attempts to get the best from those buds are successful!
    Was watching Monty too and yes, ever so jealous here too!!
    My yellow daffs are all new last autumn so as I've no previous years to compare - I'm not disappointed!
    It would be a shame if you have to cancel your April stall - fingers crossed for you.

    1. The snow finally appears to be in retreat. Still need wellies to keep feet dry on trips to compost bin as deeper areas still remain, but at least I can see soil in a lot of the garden today. About time too... In the spirit of 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em', had a great day's sledging yesterday - cried with laughing as we attempted to jump ramps of snow and ended up stuck on top of them and tipping up like beached hippos on the crest. Made things seem more bearable anyway!

      I think some of the indoor magnolia has cracked open buds in the warmth. Yay! Changed the water of the buckets in the garage (ice crystals and all) and will have to wait and see whether it could be a stall filler or not. I spy a few prims in my garden today, and a fat yellow bud on one daff, so feel a little better. Will just have to see how the week progresses.