Anna Taylor, owner of Anna’s Flower Farm in Audley End, shares what’s going on in the garden this month
This time of year always has me a little nostalgic. The light is warming, but I notice a blue hue and the wind is chilly. Trees and plants are playing catch-up with the lengthening days. You remember the feeling that things still haven’t got going; that we are waiting for something. But it’s during these days that life is actually happening. It makes me rather wistful.
Growth is rapid now and the soil is warming up. It is one of the most exciting periods for tasks, not to mention one of the busiest, with a reawakening of the gardening year.
We are seed sowing every fortnight and sowing half-hardy annuals, too. These are plants that cannot survive freezing temperatures. From the start of April, there is at least six weeks until we are out of the frost zone. So, if you can sow indoors, these plants can be started off and pricked out into trays, then planted out in late May, when we are confident of the last frost passing. I would wait another month before I direct sow these into the soil outside.
Currently, we are sowing all the annuals, pricking out and transplanting into trays those that are growing fast and, by now, I begin to plant out those that I sowed last autumn. Oh, and dividing late-summer perennials. Don’t forget to do that! See, I told you it was busy. Our persicaria and echinops have got too big in scale for the long border, so I am lifting these – driving the spade through the clump and replanting sections back into the spot, expanding my plant nursery in the field plot. I also give some away and make swaps. It’s a rewarding job. Perennials do need lifting every two to three years to ensure they flower well. They might sulk the first year after replanting, so I rotate lifting to maintain the flowering each year.
I find joy in nudging the plants along with my attentions and choosing combinations
Gardens will get on and grow without us. A border without a gardener quickly finds its own balance and is beautiful nonetheless, but I find joy in nudging the plants along with my attentions and choosing combinations. Metaphors and trite phrases are bandied about regarding the joys of gardening, but I am fully signed up. I would much rather be in the beds nurturing plants, than sitting on the bench. We know breathing in the soil as we garden has significant benefits to our physical and mental health, and I always feel good from an hour spent among the plants. If I have a problem, weeding or watering will sieve through the thoughts and percolate the options. I will also spot self-sown treasures, plants needing a prune, or an unwanted bully taking too much space.
Gardening has taught me much about noticing, preparation, anticipation and patience. Not to mention optimism, gratitude and hope. I feel connected to this space and a responsibility to nurture, but the relationship repays the effort and care. Nothing stays the same, the year rolls around again – and here we are, ready to burst into growth. I never take it for granted and enjoy the highs and lows because, after all, it means I’m truly living it.
Anna’s Flower Farm grows cut flowers, holds ‘Flower Session’ classes and teaches ‘Grow Your Own’ short and long courses in the gardens and studio at Audley End. You can buy Anna’s flowers at standard-flowers.com