Super busy. The myopic May focus on urgent sowing, cultivation and planting requirements often shields you from the garden’s unravelling beauty surrounding you. But you can always rely on something from sideways knocking you sideways, out the blue.
A lot comes out the blue in late spring. Makes you wonder if the blue is a little congested the rest of the time. Unsurprisingly perhaps, it’s our fallows at Hawkwood that often surprise me most. In the green manure beds under glass, phacelia and buckwheat are in head-turning bloom right now. The latter joined flowers of chervil, mustard, watercress, rocket and calendula in this week’s edible bouquets crafted by Pretty Delicious. These went with three hundred potted plants including wild rocket, cornflower, lemon balm, mint, oregano, alfalfa, nasturtium and viola, which we raised, at shotgun speed, to adorn the tables at Deesha and Vishal’s wedding on Saturday. Chives and borage never looked so happy as when I pushed them down the glasshouse aisle in the Danish trolley. Just the right amount of better and worse weather.
White petals of bird cherry and apple are starting to confetti the soils now. Four beds of squash are planted up. The plants were willing but the air a little bleak. They need a bit more warmth to grow or they may perish: every burst of sunshine is to be greeted now, and on Wednesday we did our version of a sundance, planting out sunflowers amidst the chicory on the Entrance Field. Sunflowers famously follow the sun as it arcs through the sky, so perhaps there is a tiny reverse attraction. It’s a long shot, but so is the sowing of tomato seed in freezing February.
Under the protection of the glass, the tomatoes are now shrub size, in need of their first sideshooting. Hannnah here says tomato pinching season is wedding season: countless occasions she’s been sat at the banquet and asked to explain her green stained hands. I tell volunteers that the quickest way to aquire green fingers is to pinch out tomatoes. I think it’s true.
And on Friday the first of the spring- sown salads made it into the mix. It’s a lettuce, “Sadawi”, a deep red looseleaf type. It is buttery and full flavoured with no bitterness. After a winter without, I didn’t realise how much I missed lettuce, how good it can taste.
Soon we will be awash with the stuff, and we will start taking it for granted. Something else will jump out from the blue to be flavour, or colour of the month. The cuckoo is back, announcing t the season is fully under way, and young, stretched before us, the possibilities all but endless and only vanishing where the land meets the blue.