“Hard seeds of hate I planted
That should by now be grown,—
Rough stalks, and from thick stamens
A poisonous pollen blown,
And odors rank, unbreathable,
From dark corollas thrown!
At dawn from my damp garden
I shook the chilly dew;
The thin boughs locked behind me
That sprang to let me through;
The blossoms slept,—I sought a place
Where nothing lovely grew.”
— from Blight by Edna St Vincent Millay
Edna should have come to my garden: plenty of nothing lovely here. The crocuses are over. The snowdrops are long over. The other bulbs are yet to bud, or never will, I can’t tell. Nothing blooms, nothing blossoms, just odors rank, lingering, stagnating, sulking in all the damp corners.
In the South I hear you’re wallowing in 19-degree sunshine. Congratulations. You’re probably gulping mint juleps and dancing like loons among your taxi-yellow daffodils, butterflies and bumblebees swirling and diving and singing all around you. Well, spare a thought for us because Edinburgh is at 8 degrees under a vague, clammy mist and the forecast says it is going to continue like this for at least another week.
Yes, I know we moved here in full knowledge of the facts and that we have to pay our dues for living in what might otherwise be described as Utopia, but this permanent cold front is taking the Michael Fish. It explains why nothing is happening in the garden, for as we all know, plants need 1) light 2) warmth. They also need water but there’s no shortage of that.
I’d have nothing constructive to write whatsoever about today if I hadn’t carpe diemed to the garden centre. Not Homebase but the real garden centre at Mortonhall. Oh, hallowed turf of Klondike, where miles upon miles of seeds, shrubs, trees, wooden stakes, pondlife, watering equipment, fertilising equipment, ceramic pots, everything the gardener needed, everything the gardener didn’t know he or she needed (spiky-soled lawn aerating shoes, anyone?) stretches beyond sight, beyond imagination. I was in heaven. I drove there with the sole purpose of buying a hellebore for the Godforsaken Corner. I came back with seeds, a rose bush, a large tub for potato-growing, a lavender plant, a unglazed ceramic pot shaped like a roman wine jar, a small propagator, 8 fibre starter pots, three meconopses (two white, one blue), and a primula.
The salient fact about hellebore, meconopsis and primula is that they will all do fine in a cool or shady spot. The front garden is north-facing and really only gets sunshine first thing in the morning at this time of year (if at all), so I looked for hardy plants that did not require full sun. I am quite proud of the fact that when I got home I planted the hellebore, the rose, the lavender, the meconopses and the primula straight away, even though it was already 6pm and I was starving, as you can’t leave these things hanging around dehydrating in their pots waiting to be stolen by drunk students. Besides, the garden was so miserable and I couldn’t wait to cheer it — and myself — up.