Dan mentioned he’d been chucking the dregs from his early morning cafettiere onto the garden. Noting my look of displeasure, he insisted that, ”It’ll do the plants good.” Hmmmm…But with Google at my disposal, I’ve discovered he is, in fact, at least partly correct. According to various forums on the subject, coffee adds acidity to the soil which, the majority of garden plants prefer.
Further in my research, I find out it is less certain whether putting coffee grounds straight into the soil is beneficial; the over-riding opinion seems to be it’s better to install a compost heap/bin and add the coffee to that where it will be properly broken down. (However, at least one poster claims that mulching roses directly with coffee grounds increases the blooms.) We have been considering getting a compost bin for a while; in fact, I can’t believe we haven’t sorted one out yet. I shall add that to my never-ending To Do list.
I planted two dark-leaved primulas in the front garden over the autumn. Frankly, they didn’t look as if they’d last the test of time as I’d picked them up in a bargain sale. But, despite their dainty appearance, they’ve proven themselves survivors. They are related to the primrose, one of my favourite flowers. Primroses remind me of my childhood, partly because of a collection of Cicely Mary Barker Flower Fairy books that I loved. My Mum had a book from her own childhood that she passed onto me. And, although the pages were falling apart, this didn’t detract from the exquisite illustrations. For nostalgic reasons, primroses are another flower I want to bring en masse into my garden.
This Saturday I was having lunch with a friend in town so, Dan looked after the children. As well as taking them to activities, he got busy in the kitchen making wholemeal pizzas from scratch for lunch. It turned out to be one of the warmest days we’ve had in a while. When I returned home Dan had cleaned the barbecue. He’d opened a cold beer and was unpeeling packs of veggie burgers (for our eldest son, his veggie double burger he put together himself as pictured) and steaks. The first barbecue of the year is always significant; the wafts of delicious smoke as the steaks sizzle especially mouth-watering. We didn’t eat alfresco; we don’t have a picnic table as yet. But food cooked outside always tastes good, doesn’t it?
The middle child (I suggested I give him a nickname for the purposes of this blog but he wasn’t keen on my idea) was off school today, recovering from a virus. The event of the day was watching the solar eclipse on television in the family room. When Dan took the other children to school he said the birds were singing, as if the darkening light had confused them. Later, while my son busied himself painting miniature science fiction models, I decided to get stuck into weeding the patio beds. I love bluebells but, I don’t want them choking the alpines. So I made a first attempt at removing them. I was disappointed to see a number of the succulents I planted last year have not survived and, the largest alpine bed is not looking as impressive as I had hoped. Admittedly, the half-painted wall behind it doesn’t help the overall appearance.
The Cottage Garden border has fared better. There’s a satisfying scattering of buttery-yellow daffodils and a pretty spread of crocuses. The mulch and leaves we dumped on this bed have largely kept the weeds in check and, although, I had secretly hoped for more after all the bulb-planting, there is still, real improvement.
I enjoyed pottering about this afternoon, dreaming up plans for the garden, imagining how it might eventually look. The weather has recently become milder and, I am finding this is a great incentive in persuading me to spend longer outdoors!
The garden has a somewhat abandoned look about it at the moment; children’s broken plastic toys are discarded in flowerbeds, paint is peeling like sunburnt skin from patio walls and slimy moss clings to the surface of steps, making the short journey onto our lawn ice-rink treacherous.
It’s pleasing then, to see long-awaited crocuses appearing from their grass-like leaves; purple, yellow, cream. Though my reason for planting them is, simply, that they look bright and cheerful, apparently they also attract bees. With little maintenance required, it’s no surprise the crocus is the mainstay of virtually every suburban garden in my vicinity.
While some of my neighbours’ gardens seem to be bursting with purple crocuses and delicate snowdrops, my own green space is slow to show signs of change. There are tell-tale green shoots appearing but few flowers, except for two clusters of snowdrops (Galanthus) in the Cottage Garden border.