Saturday, 12 February 2011

A Foretaste of Spring

Of course it's not Spring,

but a day like today could almost make me believe that it won't be long now, which means that seed packets are becoming interesting again.

Gardener came this morning,
for the first time this year;
working hard made us ignore
the cold wind. A woollen hat, a warm fleece kept off the worst of it. The sun shone brightly, lighting up dark and dismal hidden corners.

We pruned and chopped and cut back
all day; rotting and dead vegetation
is now on the compost heap.
Any pruning that has been put off should be done this month. Bundles of pea sticks are waiting to prop up
herbaceous perennials later in Spring.

I am surprised at how long I lasted, a full day of serious gardening always leaves me completely
worn out, with aching limbs, sore knees and a back as bent as that of an old crone. Which I am, of course. The first day after a long winter spent slaving over a book or a blog is the worst. Gardener told Beloved  "I should have made it a half day, to break her in gently".

The aconites are out, pure gold in the sun.

Gardener never wears gloves. Bare hands are better for scraping up leaves
from between new growth. Delicate plants need delicate treatment.

Alder Tree Catkins 

Alder for shoes
Do wise men choose.

Being water-resistant and heat-retaining, alder is the best wood for clog soles.

Alder leaves gathered while the morning dew is on them, and brought into a chamber troubled with fleas, will gather them thereunto; which, being suddenly cast out, will rid the chamber of these troublesome bedfellows.

Culpeper Herbal 1653

Sweet smelling Witch-Hazel is in flower. 

Winter is a very dull time in the garden, very few colours delight the eye.
But on a sunny day like today close inspection of  normally modest plants
can bring great pleasure.


  1. thank you for this companionable post, dear. you are a true friend and always teach me lovely things.

    Aloha Friko
    Comfort Spiral

  2. ah spring is on the mind was a tease here today in the mid 50s i hope it holds out...i need to get my hands in the earth...

  3. Ah, the garden. It's such a lovely place at any time of the year, but your pictures are making me hunger for some SPRING to come visit me! Where have you been all my life?? :-)

  4. the stories friko - the stories in those fingers . . . in those eyes. to see flowers right now ahhh my heart and my eyes both fluttered at the sight . . .it seems so unlikely as i look out the window here. . . we share the same world in different iterations. steven

  5. Ah, glimmers of spring. What a tonic from you on yet another dreary day here!

  6. Such pretty and interesting flora. I've never heard of aconites. The picture reminds me of crocus, and I love to see them pop their little heads up in early spring, often through the snow. I haven't planted any here, as the deer would certainly eat them. That's just a trade-off for living in this beautiful place with so much wildlife, I suppose!

  7. I'm with Gardener. Bare hands are best. I have yet to tend to those chores. We did, after all have nights in the 20s just two days ago. tomorrow will beckon though. it will be sunny and in the 60s.

  8. Lovely photos. No gardening here -- we got some more snow. Sigh.

  9. Ah! The temperature was Spring-like here today and I should have been working in my own garden -- except for still having snow on the ground, which makes it impractical. Another few days!

    I very much enjoyed your photos; the Aconite, in particular, is lovely.

  10. Friko, I've now gone through all the four seasons with you! and nothing has remained the same! what variety you have now--the witch hazel, the catkins, the aconite which reminded me of Wordsworth's daffodil. Here it's still the dazzling white of winter: icicles, snow, below-freezing temperatures. We won't catch up until May!
    Maybe use some of that witch hazel on those sore muscles! me ♥

  11. You have given me just the pick up needed on this snowy day in our Northwoods...and my first seed order has been shipped. I know when the day arrives, my muscles will cry out at the end of the day...but it will be worth it.

    Is it true that when the witch hazel buds open they make an audible cracking sound?? We don't have them this far north...

  12. I hope you feel better today , having slept like a log .
    I'm intrigued by the pest control advice .... what did one do with the flea-bedecked alder once they'd all obligingly hopped on ? Throw it on the fire , perhaps .

  13. Our gardens are always the first to announce spring, a wonderful post, it made me feel all .... springy! :o)

  14. You have green.
    If that isn't spring, it would be close enough for me!

  15. As usual, the pictures are beautiful and, also as usual, you put in a small history lesson about alder and shoes. The season of hope is upon us - at least relatively soon according to our US groundhogs.

  16. It will be weeks yet before we're anywhere near spring so I've read this with the same sense of delight I'd have finding an unexpected sign of quickening in my own yard. Thanks!

  17. Nach den langen Wintermonaten hat man fast schon Entzungserscheinungen nach Wärme, Farben und Blumen, da kann es leicht vorkommen wie besessen im Garten zu arbeiten und die Zeit dabei zu vergessen, die Anstrengungen bemerkt man dann erst am Abend.
    Aber es ist trotzdem wunderschön zu sehen, dass der Zyklus der Jahrezeiten wiederkehrt und die Natur einmal mehr von Neuem erwacht.
    Auch deine vorigen Berichte und Fotos sind immer soooo schön.

  18. Reading your blog today, first I felt guilty because I have things that need to be cut back before spring arrives. Then seeing the gardener with his hands in the bare dirt made me feel vindicated. I was plagued with a dermatological issue for years, and my physician was always telling me to wear gloves when I worked in the garden. I retired, and my skin problem cleared as I was no longer stressed by the office work. I still 'forget' to wear gloves in the garden sometimes, but my hands are just fine. Dianne

  19. What a lovely, gentle post, even with the image of the hard work. There's little colour here yet, but I'll have to look with eyes like yours and then perhaps I'll see something on the morning walk.

  20. I think yesterday Spring was breaking us all in gently Friko. It was glorious all day here - Today :( grey skies and rain all day. Your garden is looking good. Love all the pictures.

  21. What a dramatic transition from that
    mind-altering freezing winter scene
    to these thawed-out, dripping, colorful
    moments you have shared. Most of us
    love to look at gardens, but some of us
    just do not have the aptitude for the
    plant world to respond to us. You are
    a treasure for we followers, a wonder,
    and clicking into your world several
    times a week elevates mood and spirit.

  22. Lovely pictures Friko! It is such a hopeful thing to see life creeping back into a garden in Spring....

  23. Oh, how wonderful! We too are in for some warmer weather and I'm looking forward to a spot of gardening.

  24. How lovely to get that first breath of spring! Ahhhh! The garden is so pretty - and how interesting to read about it too!

  25. That first photograph is so colorful, I thought at first glance that you took it in a candy shop! And in a way, it is like candy -- those seeds packets are wonderful treats to a gardener's eye.

  26. Much better without gloves - I agree. If I wear gardening gloves, I always end up taking them off. I even handle holly and rose prunings with bare hands! Crazy, my wife tells me, and I do end up with scratches, it's true.

  27. A lovely post. Full of hope of good things to come and new life. I am surrounded by alders, so I have to appreciate them.

  28. Oh my - it looks like spring and here we are in the midst's of a snow storm - life is so unfair!!!!! I will go back to looking at your lovely pictures and make believe I am there.


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