As I was locking up the other night I noticed one of my favourite rhodies had suddenly burst into full bloom. Hurrah, let's hope this five month winter is finally over! Sure enough, buds are opening , birds are singing and believe it or not I'm happy to see the weeds are growing. The wheel turns, even if it's grindingly, achingly slow sometimes.
I'm going to spend to-day zhuzhing-up the front garden and making a start on my cut flower patch by planting sweet peas. I usually go for the sugared almond shades, but this year I noticed "Miss Wilmott", for sale. It's a lovely mixture of hot colours. A dwarf form, "Bijou", is also ready to leave the cold greenhouse, I'm going to try it in a large pot placed at head height so I can savour the scent.
In the vegetable kingdom I was delighted to see cauliflower, broccoli and leeks had germinated without the help of heating; I've grown so used to using heating mats it seemed little short of miraculous. It will be interesting to see if they catch up with the earlier sowings I made.
Now, please don't misunderstand my interest in peat free compost. I've driven across Ireland, which I love, and I can't see that destroying peatbogs is necessarily a bad thing. The trade has been instructed however to cut back on the use of peat and to give it up completely by 2020. And I know this winter may have made some people cynical about global warming, but as we're on the same latitude as Moscow this winter will seem mild if melting ice caps dilute the Gulf Stream. So I've got to find an alternative. The experiment of using leafmould with a pinch of blood, fish and bone as an alternative to peat seems to have been successful, there's no difference between the tomato and lettuce seedlings I pricked out into this mix and those in a good quality commercial compost. Those who're looking for peat alternatives might want to check out biochar; sold under the name of "Carbon Gold" it has had good reviews in Horticulture Week. I'm certainly going to try it as soon as it's available.