What do you do when it's too cold, dark and wet to go out into the garden and Gardener's World hasn't started yet? (It starts this week, so I won't have withdrawal symptoms for much longer!)
Do some garden planning, perhaps?
My preferred way to do this is in a hot bath with a mug of herb tea, a notebook and pen, and a stack of seed catalogues, but I don't seem to have received any catalogues at my new address, despite sending change of address information. It looks like paper catalogues are now by request, which is sensible, and I failed to request them, which is not.
Despite my lack of planning, I'm feeling impatient to get out into the garden again. There were a couple of mornings with sunny spells recently. On 24th February (or 23rd, perhaps?), I even ended up in my T shirt at one point, and could hear a bumble bee somewhere in the hedge. The cats thought it was great, sprawled on the patio or the swing seat in the sun. I was transplanting aquilegia and crocuses which had popped up in the grass. I found a bag of compost leaning against the shed, and wondered where I'd got this wonderful, rich, dark brown, crumbly compost from. Then I remembered - this was the bag I used to hold the almost-ready compost from one of the bins last year! Oh my! It's now possibly the best compost I've ever made! I only managed to transplant half of the aquilegia and ran out of appropriately-sized pots, so need to buy some more - and some more compost. The more I dig in the garden, the more I realise how stony and claggy the soil is. It could do with a lot of improvement. And in the meantime, I also have various roses, buddleias, fuchsia and whatever else needs saving, to dig up and plant in pots while I sort out where things are going to go, and create some dug-over soil for them to go in.
Having run out of pots, I had another go at some brambles and retreated indoors just as it came over all cloudy, in time for lunch. And then it started raining. Again.
March 1st - St David's Day - saw me cutting back the buddleia which needs to come out from under the washing line (I started trying to get a garden fork around and under it, but that will be a big job!). Mrs Blackbird decided that nest-building was the order of the day. Mr Blackbird just posed around on the top of various sheds while she frantically chucked leaves and bits around, taking beak-fulls of grass, small twigs, moss and so on back into the hedge. I think she might be in a bit of the privet hedge behind the camellia near the patio. She went crashing through the camellia several times when I was out there, despite the fact that I was working just a couple of metres away. I warned the cats to leave her be and they happily complied. I think they sensed that if they got too close, she would just go berserk and attack them. She carried on nest-building in the pouring rain the following day too, and I haven't seen her since, although Mr Blackbird has stopped posing so much and now just sits on the hedge or in the lilac, singing away. A dunnock has been providing some competition. He has such a lovely song.
Since then, I haven't managed a proper gardening session. I managed to prepare a couple of pots and made first sowings of beetroot and spinach. The sun came out the other day, and I got my shoes, gloves and coat on, only for it to start spitting as soon as I got out there. Within half an hour, it was coming down really hard, leaving standing water on the horse field on the other side of the garden fence.
The spring flowers I have in pots are really pretty, and the hellebores, which appeared as seedlings in the edge of the gravel 'bed' the year I moved in, have large, dusky pink flowers. Buds are breaking out all over - the first of the camellia flowers are opening, it won't be long before the Clematis montana flowers, and I can see colour on the tips of the lilac flower buds. I want to get out there, but there's little point when it's so wet. The birds and flowers are putting me to shame - they're getting on with the business of early spring, whatever the weather!