Friday, 19 April 2013

Spring comes to Holly Cottage (at last!)

Golden Daffodils bending to the April cold
It's happening, it's happening, it's finally happening. What's that you say? Well, it's all happening! After what seems like an eternity in darkness and cold, the light is back and there's even a bit of heat! This afternoon after a morning of sunshine and showers, myself and the Holly dog were sitting out the back admiring the fresh growth of the strawberries - in a t-shirt! No jumpers, no fleeces, no scarves, no hats or no gloves gloves, just a t-shirt. Well, I was in a t-shirt. Herself is still in her thick woolly coat and is starting to resemble a very small amber coloured lamb with long ears and the cutest snout. For a very brief moment I considered retrieving the sandals or the flip flops from their winter storage, but  I thought that might jinx it entirely for the rest of the country so I stuck with the socks and the heavy runners. 

It's less that three weeks now since I last posted on the Holly Cottage blog - remember the snow? Well, we pretty much had two weeks continuous of dry, dry weather - the east wind was coming to us from Russian steppes and everything that once was green had turned a strange shade of unfamiliar yellow. The ground was starting to crack out the garden and every morning the daffodils fought off the grip of frost and managed to straighten their long and graceful necks by midday to greet the golden sun. What extremes? - the wet of January and the dry and cold of February, the damp and wind (and snow) of March and then the dry April chilling winds and hard frosts that kept leaves in their cosy buds and stopped us all from getting brave with sowing salad seeds in open ground. What seeds we had in the sturdy greenhouse were getting frosted even inside those sheltering panes of plastic so all the new members of the Holly Cottage community were brought inside to the comfort of fires at night and kitchen midday sun that boosted their growth. The beans thanked us for it and have bolted out of their holsters and the peas are gracefully starting to tendril. Sunflowers are pushing bent heads up through the compost and cucumbers, sweetcorn, tomatoes and leeks are all doing well now. Sweet basil and marjoram planted in February are only coming to and parsley planted in March is finally thickening up. 

Holly's rooftop garden
The trials of the Irish (amateur) gardener eh? Even the relentless rhibarb seems to be staggering in the April sun. Of course we could have bought a propagator like they have in Cappaduff, but that would take the fun out of it all ;)  And so we are looking forward to planting out in the next week or so, and maybe even an early spud will raise a sleepy head soon to let us know they survived the springtime freeze. 

Back to Friday night and at almost 9pm in midlands Ireland, the light is still illuminating the skeleton forms of the beech trees that line the boundary of Charleville Castle estate across the way. No leaves on the towering beech yet, but they are coming. The first fresh green buds have been spotted on the hawthorn, hazel, birch and elder in the woods for at least a week now - still not in full armour mind. Give them a chance to shake up the goodness from the roots in the warming earth to the nutrient starved leaves laid down since last year in sticky and furry buds. 

No leaves yet but
there's still plenty of sticks :)
We've been enjoying the weather regardless - long, late evening walks late in the woods with the tall oaks and dizzyingly high beeches of Charleville have been entertaining myself and the Holly dog. There are no leaves on high but the woodland floor is carpeted in the bountiful wild garlic - great for adding to the scrambled eggs! 

Holly is on the mend - thankfully. She had a stone the size of a plum seed removed from her bladder last week and is just back to her crazy self. She was only gone for a day and then kind of doped out of it for another day. With all that silence it makes you wonder -what would we do without her?

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