It’s February and a gardener’s thoughts turn to spring.
Not because we expect it any time soon – this is Ontario, Canada, after all — but because it’s at least another two months before flowers start popping up from the soil.
So – courtesy of Twitter — I head to Ciaran de Buitlear’s garden in the south of Ireland where flowers are already blooming.
In fact, Ciaran’s first crocus bloomed weeks ago, while we in the frozen north were enjoying snowdrifts, and I got a serious case of garden envy.
Then came the daffodils and hellebores.
Ciaran says he loves gardening in part because it’s “very different to the day job of working with databases in the cloud for large insurance companies. I think gardening is very Zen. It is like a meditation but without the stillness, and also gets you fit (and there are flowers).”
His love of gardening began in childhood.
“I gardened as a small child with my mother. I only recalled this recently when I saw episodes of BBC ‘Gardeners World’ nearly 50 years old. I remembered watching them with my parents as a small child.”
Ciaran is passing on his garden love to his own children. While his partner Fiona “does not have green fingers”, sons Zack and Sam love to help out in the garden.
“They do weeding, grow plants from seed, like to make things out of wood for the garden. Zack can spend hours in the garden helping me. Sam is 11 now and can get more stuck into computer games than the garden sometimes but he still does help from time to time.”
The family’s garden is not huge, but it’s prolific. Last fall alone, Ciaran planted 500 bulbs around this tree.
He grows many favourite plants.
“I love ferns — freshness, greenness, kind of other worldliness, they are so magnificent in spring.
“Japanese maples – they look great from up close and far away. The leaf detail, different colours and textures of foliage, the way they act as foils for other plants.”
Pots are also filled with spring flowers:
And there’s a greenhouse to help protect tender plants till it’s time to put them out in the garden.
As gardeners know, it all takes work, but a garden is a gift that keeps on giving.
The hellebores are blooming in different colours.
But in the weeks ahead, hosta will unfurl, hardy geranium will bloom, flowering vines will put on a show, as will the roses in the de Buitlears’ garden.
“You can never have enough roses, all kinds (but not the ones you have to spray). I treat them well, feed the soil with well-rotted manure every year. If they do not thrive, I yank them out (this rarely happens). Long flowering season, lovely blooms, use as cut flowers, colours!
“Then there are coneflowers, rudbeckia, agapanthus, allium… I could go on and on and on… I guess I am a plantaholic.”
Aren’t we all? Thanks for sharing your garden, Ciaran. It brightens up a northern gardener’s soul.