The weather is beautiful today and warm. The only trouble is, this lovely weather is probably the reason that the bulbs seem to be blooming early. There are now quite few tulips out (not just the early varieties) and it is still only March! Everyone in the family keeps asking the same question, "Are these flowers going to still be here on the open day?". My answer is either “I don’t know”, or “What will be, will be”. The ‘non-gardening’ members of the family, which is basically everyone except me, look at the garden in a very ‘black and white’ way. They want everything blooming simultaneously on the 22nd of April, they do not seem to appreciate that I did not design the garden to only look good on specific days. I’m constantly striving to achieve a succession of colour, over as long of a time as possible. Therefore, the first crocuses appeared on the 10th of January, and the garden has been in quite ‘full bloom’ for most of March. However, I am concerned that our bulbs will peak too soon, but there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.
There is great excitement in the Church Gardens bee world! The ‘bee man’ came yesterday to split the hive. This involves (I hope I’ve got this right) removing the queen from our existing colony and putting her with a tray into the empty hive. The existing hive then spends some time finding a new queen. The ‘bee man’ put some honey into the new hive, to feed the bees and their brood until some new foraging bees hatch out and can start to bring pollen back to the new hive. One worry is that the stronger hive might attack the new hive and steal their honey. However, the ‘bee man’ describes our bees as being lovely, placid bees, and he thinks the old colony will be too distracted by trying to find a new queen to cause any trouble. I also asked the ‘bee man’ about a nest of wild bees in the brick work of our pond. There are lots of them flying low all over the crocus lawn (despite there not being any crocuses left). He says these bees look like masonry bees, which borrow into the mortar of the old walls. This would make sense, as we’ve had these bees living in the house walls in the past.
I do not have much ‘gardening time’ because I have to play for someone’s GCSE performance and give an extra lesson to someone else who has an exam next week, and then I need to go to a rehearsal. However, I do manage to plant some seeds. I plant 30 of my favourite cosmos from last year, a beautiful, tall, magenta variety called ‘Dazzler’. I moved three trays of Zinnias and Cosmos out of the propagator to make room for the seeds I am going to plant today. It is incredible how quickly some seedlings come up in the propagator, the Zinnias and Cosmos have emerged in two to three days. I plant an 84 cell tray of 42 mixed Cosmos and 42 Cosmos ‘Bipnnatus Cupcakes’. I planted 6 Ricunus Communous Impala – these are lovely big shiny seeds. I do get confused opening packs of seeds, some are like specs of dust, others are the size of beans. Some packs contain 500 seeds, some only 5 or 6! I then plant another tray of Coleus ‘Wizard Mix’ (28), Antirrhinum (28), Agastache (14) and French Marigold Alumia Mix (14). I finish by planting a tray of Salvia Patens and Salvia Pink Sunday, which according to their packet don’t need to go into the propagator. Before leaving the polytunnel I notice that one of our cats, Minxy, has jumped into my DIY protected shelf unit and she has been sleeping on a tray of aubergines and peppers and completely flattened them! I never get angry with my cats, they are very spoilt, but on this occasion, I do shout at her to get off! She looks very put out and takes some persuading to leave the seed tray. I try to gently coax the young aubergines and peppers back to an upright position and resolve to try to improve my cat proofing system. I suddenly realise I have left myself 5 minutes to wash, change and help Aideen put the harp in the car!