- I have never, ever spent so much money on plants in my entire life (don't ask, it's embarrassing)
- I have never, ever spent so little time in the garden in March.
Around the middle of February my working life (I work at home) became very busy. And suddenly, while I was tied to my desk, endless quantities of the plants I had been dreaming of during a very pensive January started to arrive and I could do nothing (except panic). But I think I am not alone in this spring panic? Possibly worse this year, after a very long winter.
Six weeks later the plants are all heeled into the veg patch. I'm not too worried, since I can't imagine that I'll have time for veg anyway in 2013 - although I'm not quite sure what I'll do with the onion sets, 'rose' garlic bulbs (the 'violet' and 'white' are for autumn planting apparently, being hardier), two cultivars of potato - and all those sweet little tomatoes and chilli peppers that I have already sown ... might be a case of the best laid plans?
As of Friday 22 March, I was released to fit in a bit of planting before - the end of March! By which time, we are told, all bareroot plants have to be in the ground. My neighbours are having a field day reminding me that 'a Sainte Catherine, tous bois prendre racines' (forgive the lack of accents, it's my computer, but I do know where they go). Of course, they are quite right. St Catherine's day is 25 November and, yes, we all know that this is the best time to plant bareroot woody plants. Sadly, in November 2012 I had neither the inspiration - nor the money! In any case, I am happy that I keep my neighbours happy; they now have a heaven-sent opportunity to use one of their favourite sayings to someone who is actually called Catherine!
The picture above is of something I did manage to find time for in March - and that I am absolutely delighted with. I bought quantities of hardwood willow cuttings (all different coloured stems) from World of Willow in the UK. I have, potentially, a large number of plants for about £25. Plus, as I fall asleep every night, I can imagine myself making the most wonderfully coloured willow structures: fedges, arches, summer houses ... you name it. Since the bottom of our garden is flooded once a year, this is (theoretically) a perfect planting idea. I bought (for colour and basket-making value): 'Continental Purple' ( a S. daphnoides cultivar), 'Golden willow' (S. alba x fragilis), 'Chermesina Yelverton' (one of the beautiful Chermesina stable, with bright, orangey red stems), S. 'Melanostachys' (a cultivar of S. myrsinifolia, it seems), S. 'Nigricans' (S. gracilistyla). I don't know if I will be able to resist more colours next year ... at the moment I am down observing the buds every day - and they look rather juicy.
Anyway - tomorrow the hornbeam for the hedges will be planted (you can see the preparation in my picture if you squint carefully). Just over from the 'hornbeam gardens' we are going to have an orchard (that's another panic - did I tell you I was 56 last birthday?). So, also being planted tomorrow, four Prunus 'Taihaku' (yes four, it's a mini-avenue). Do you know the story of the Great White Cherry and 'Cherry Ingram'?Apparently Captain Collingwood Ingram found one specimen of this tree in Sussex in 1923; he started propagating and shortly afterwards realised that it had been a very important tree in its native Japan, but was now extinct. He reintroduced it to Japan in 1932. I was, perhaps, distantly related to the good Captain in a previous life, because his tree haunted my dreams for about a fortnight in January until I finally shelled out the €150 necessary to buy four 'copies'. I also had to do a lot of smoothing over of a certain French nurseryman's (rather diva-like) ruffled feathers when I innocently enquired when my (for me, very expensive) trees would arrive.
All's well - tomorrow we will have a mini-avenue of Captain Ingram's delight and two baby hornbeam gardens. But where, my neighbours are already asking, are the fruits you can eat? (Fruit is very imporant in Lorraine.)
Not to worry - we are now past the 21 March and I have local permission to go down and graft scions of 14 cultivars of apple, pear, peach and plum that are (with their essential rootstocks) lying below in my cave. Definitely little chance of me sleeping tonight.