Tuesday, May 3, 2011

April Showers (or not) and May Flowers (we hope)

Besides being pretty, pretty, pretty, these photos of London gardens (the one above of a keeper's cottage in Hyde Park) serve to demonstrate just how far ahead the weather brought the gardens in a climate that's generally quite similar to ours here in the Pacific Northwest. While cold and rain prevailed at home, we were basking in warmth and sunshine that scarcely allowed us to open our umbrellas.

My own roses are rubbing their eyes groggily, stumbling still to understand why it is I want them to get out of bed and get blooming . . . it's still so early, they protest, so cold and wet,  can't we sleep a bit longer? No, I scold, your cousins across the Atlantic have been out cheering up passers-by for weeks now. Get on with it, would you?!

But perhaps they'll reply, with some justice, that if they have to get working in the garden, I've got much to do before I get the prettiness happening around our place. OMG, there are weeds! There is shapeless overgrowth that needs pruning! There is fallout from winter storms to be cleared away -- branches strewn here and there. Granted, I'm aiming at a much less urban look than these very modified versions of English cottage, but still, some neatness and constraint is required.

Isn't this Notting Hill house-and-garden delightful?

Meanwhile, I have lilac ready to bloom in another two or three weeks, less if we get some sunshine. We saw it bloom four or five weeks ago in Paris, and are thrilled we'll have a repeat of what's generally a once-a-season performance. Ditto for our daffodils and tulips (we have many small varieties currently blooming -- I'll try to get some pics up soon). We're seriously considering planting some wisteria after walking under its lush, fragrant blooms in Paris and London (although I do wonder if it's responsible for the hayfever I suffered).

Much as I'm motivated, though, to get out in the garden, inspired by my Paris/London memories, I'm a bit relieved that we've got a few days of rain. I need an excuse to stay out of the garden, since I have a paper to research and write -- I'm presenting at a conference at the end of the month, and apparently, the presentation isn't going to write itself.

Spring in the garden, yours or otherwise, tell me about it. . . .


  1. Thank you for the preview of what I have to look forward to on Friday morn in London! My garden here in New England looks much like yours.....daffodils and tulips and lots of cleanup needed. As I am now in the midst of packing anxiety, the garden will have to wait a week!!
    PS. Enjoyed your opera post!

  2. I love wisteria, but apparently it needs cooler winters than we get here to really thrive. Those English gardens are just lovely. The roses!!!

    This last weekend we did some replanting in the front yard, replacing some varieties that either didn't thrive or that I decided I didn't like. We're having a bout of warm weather, so need to get out there every evening and give all of the newbies an extra drink.

    Here's hoping you're fully able to enjoy Round 2 (for you) of Spring.

  3. Glorious! Ah, that Georgian row with planting... I am buried in boxes, the garden just starting to bloom but new owners will see the sweet 125 year old apple tree swish its white ballgown of petals for a week. Hard to leave two cherished gardens for a balcony of pots, but that's the choice. Enjoy every bloom!

  4. The wisteria around the bee keeper's cottage needs some training but otherwise, yes, it's beautiful.

    I love it when rain makes it necessary to put off gardening, but then, I'm not much of a gardener. Lucky for me my sweetie is happy puttering outside.

    I wish you beautiful blooms soon!

  5. Thank you for this post. There's nothing quite like an English garden. Around here, the native iris are just dying off, and the roses in the middle of the beginning of their lives. Big as small plates, this year, following the mysterious call of the Rose Gods I suppose.

  6. I'm still wearing gloves and a coat. Seriously, it's so depressing I don't know what to say. It rains every day. Not just regular grey - but actual rain. Worst spring in a long time.

  7. Pavlova: Oh, have a wonderful time! I wish I'd found more time to share tips with you -- top recommendations would be to try to see something at St. Martin in the Field, hang out at the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, get to the Tate Modern (and be sure to order the Gordes olives in the restaurant, if you do) . . . and I found a fabulous place to get fitted for jeans -- Start in Spitalfields. Oh, you'll find all your own favourite places, I know, and you'll have a wonderful time. Bon voyage!

  8. Pseu: Your garden will really be coming into its own over the next year or two, great fun to watch it take shape.
    Duchesse: I think that giving up the garden is what I'll find toughest when we eventually make our move. How lovely, though, that you've found a buyer who's going to admire it as you have. And lovely that you have one more spring of apple-blossoms, a fine backdrop to alleviate the stress of boxing-up.
    Susan T: I actually love that wisteria just as it is, but I'm a fan of a bit of wilderness in the groomed. It's one of the things I hesitate about with wisteria, though, the need to prune rigorously.
    LPC: I had no idea you had native irises there -- I always associate those with wetter places, somehow.
    Roses like small plates -- sounds wonderful. I hope they're all fragrant as well.
    k: apparently, it's been the same here, and it's not budging much above 14 degrees. My tolerance is pretty high right now, as I've stocked up on warmth and sunshine, but that will change if it's not sunny by Victoria Day. . . .

  9. Yes, my garden went a little crazy this year, the Lilac was a month early as it normally blooms with the Laburnum but instead was out with the laurel and is now over, luckily my Wisteria waited a little longer but even so I will have little left to flower soon!
    I am glad you enjoyed the London gardens, I LOVE walking around at this time of year seeing them bloom, it is the biggest difference we have with Berlin there it is all apartments facing in so the courtyard can't been seen and their public spaces are shambolic as they are spending all their money replacing East German water ducts which used to run above ground!
    Having shared your climate for so long I am amazed it has been so cold there, but you did come over during what has to be a unique occurrence for us. We are currently now experiencing fires across the country and water shortages so as always there is a price to pay.

    P.S glad you liked Greenwich, isn't the architecture amazing? You will see some of it many films most recently the new pirates of the Caribbean.

  10. I have been following your latest Euro-vacation closely although have been remiss in not commenting. So glad you had such an interesting trip and that you timed it to coincide with the best spring we have had since about, oh, 1976.

    Was thrilled to see my old neighbourhood featuring in this post. I lived for many years just round the corner from the Notting Hill house with the deep pink door and remember it well. And there was deep nostalgia at the sight of the park-keeper's cottage.

    This almost miraculous spring means that my Devon garden (in the UK's South West) is about a month ahead of its normal schedule.

    By the way, am off to London for my first visit in two years at the end of the month, to catch the Hoppé before it closes.

  11. It seems so unfair that Paris and London have spring precisely when spring is supposed to arrive. In my part of the world we're still waiting. Hostas and peonies are just starting to poke up - I suspect they're poking back down at night - just too damn cold! The forsythia is in bloom and some daffodils. But real spring is liable to arrive the day before summer and I'll be slaving in the heat just to get everything in. I suspect I sound a bit grumpy. Winter hangover. Your photos have been so lovely. Very kind of you to take the time (and find the energy!) to share them. Good luck with the presentation.

  12. Alison: Blogger's just swallowed my response to you, 60, and L'AGe, so this attempt will be shorter. Essentially, I just said thanks for sharing the weather lottery with us -- it was spectacular!

  13. 60/16: I'm staying brief in responding to you as Blogger gobbled my fuller comment -- so glad you took the time to let me know you lived near that charming pink door. Silly of me, I know, but it makes me think I have a personal stake in the neighbourhood. It must have been delightful to pass this much prettiness on your daily rounds.
    Enjoy the Hoppé -- and perhaps also check out the Ida Kar exhibit and the Bridget Riley. I'd love to have all that opportunity so close at hand always (altho' I know I've got other blessings closer by).

  14. L'age Moyen: I'm feeling pretty choked at Blogger: Sorry we are unable to process that request!! Hmmph!
    Anyway, I tried to wish you sunshine and flowers by Victoria Day -- I've seen how quickly your surroundings can change, back East, from Winter to Summer in one intense week of Spring. I'll cross my fingers that happens for you soon.

  15. Oh, my were you in London? I will go back and read everything!!!

    We're going in June.

  16. Aunt: Oh, you'll have fun -- I'll have to check over at your place and follow your preparations and, perhaps if you find time to blog while away, your travels. I'm hoping to get some more London posts up in the next few weeks.


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