It is a grey day here in Sussex, England, on the last day in February.
My garden is making some amends with purple and orange croci fighting for space with the first few of the miniature blue iris reticulata. In my tiny courtyard garden, I have given a lot of responsibility to two terracotta troughs which are stacked with bulbs which are meant to take their turn into bloom from January to May. It can be an unseemly struggle but amusing to watch if you are a fan of blood sports.
There are two large urns of primroses, the new seeded plants paler than their parents. I haven’t seen urns of natural primroses anywhere else but mine have come back every year with new plants taking over from the old. They came from my old, much larger garden but here they earn their place, obviously now with those delicately coloured flowers but also right through into late summer with their wonderful light green leaves which lighten up two of the darkest corners of the garden.
There are some multi-coloured but not too vivid primula in hanging baskets, the vulgar yellow ones excluded in case they steal any of the primroses’ subtle glory. The yellow ones have found a home in a basket out on the street where they try to inspire other home owners to add a bit of Spring to our grey Georgian terrace. I am not a great fan of primulas – they are, lets face it, the child’s crayon drawing to to Monet’s impressionist best.
They were useful this year though for someone, like me with a fractured spine and brain damage who missed out on a lot of the Autumn planting duties. I couldn’t hang the baskets of course but I did get my fingers dirty planting them and that was a pleasure long delayed.
So there is colour on this grey day but, best of all, to my eyes, is the first daffodil of Spring.
That dreary, I mean beautiful and poignant, old ballad The Last Rose of Summer, has nothing for me in comparison to that unwritten, as yet, song, The First Daffodil of Spring.
It might be small and less spectacular than other daffodils but mine, still flowering alone, is a much braver thing than that old rose left hanging around too long whingeing on about how it wants to be scattered with all the other dead ones on the ground.
I want to say to that lingering rose, sorry love you’re out of time, I need to get on with Autumn.
My daffodil will soon be joined by a whole lot more of course, there are buds in abundance but lets hear it for the first born. It does that job, thankless in a Shakespeare play but celebrated in my garden, the job of herald. “Sire, here comes Spring” it trumpets just when the action had got a bit dull.
For you non-believers, that is what the daffodil trumpet is for: sounding a fanfare. So, if you can’t hear the music, get out of the garden.