Warmer days bring the promise of growth | Gardening advice


The equinox tomorrow. British summertime next week. Gardens unleashed. It will soon be safe to sow spring things wherever you grow.

Howard and I share impatience, though this is newer to him than me. We meet one afternoon with a yen for sowing flowers. The plot has always been a colourful thing. More so the longer we’ve been here.

The spring sun’s shining. The sky’s a cloudless blue. A few fellow gardeners are dotted about. Also called by the warmth and brighter light. Perhaps sharing a need to turn over soil. Do some post-winter tidying.

I’m armed with a sack of saved calendula seed, some orange cosmos, a large gaudy packet of nasturtiums. The Danish tagetes will wait a while longer. Though it’s in my pocket just in case.

We stick – at least at the start – to sowing in the borders. As I hoe a short row for the new nasturtiums, I find seed from the autumn flowers scattered on the soil. I add these, too.

Next, calendula. I scatter it liberally alongside the path. Howard looks up, raises an elegant eyebrow, though he’s used to it by now.

He’s sowing the saved cosmos sulphureus (also known as Mexican aster), now in its second year here. We’re both entranced by its shape and colour. Its seed also saves very easily. Highly recommended.

He starts dotting small patches of seed through the space. The shape of the plot, though, what grows where this year, will be mostly determined by the climbing plants.

We discuss the placing of the French bean structure, and a frame for the Basque tear peas. We’ve a fresh supply from my chef friend in Bilbao.

Sweet peas will come as seedlings from garden guru Jane Scotter in Hereford. Accompanied, hopefully, fingers crossed, with fresh hazel poles from her hedges.

These will all happily wait for now. For warmer days, later evenings and early-morning work. Happy spring.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com


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