Living as I do in the North of Scotland, spending time outside in the garden is very much a seasonal thing.
Our front garden faces south, so gets the best of the sun all year round but is always in public view so tends to be a space I walk through (or garden in) rather than sit and relax in. This is where our many mature roses grow, as much for our neighbours or passers-by to look at as for us to enjoy. Our beautifully private back garden faces north, so with the low winter sun in this part of the world it receives virtually no direct sunlight at all from the end of November through to the middle of February, but I strive to make the most if its changing fortunes over the rest of the year and I must admit this is our outdoor space I love being in the most.
Life in my back garden begins in earnest around late February, weather permitting, clearing away the last of the brown protective debris of winter slumber and watching in anticipation for any tell-tale signs of new green growth. Snowdrops always appear in the garden first, maybe as early as January, often breaking ground through hard frost and icy snow, so have always come and gone by the time the weather is warm enough (and dry enough) for me to be outside any more than is absolutely necessary.
Then in early spring come the crocus, and the glory-in-the-snow, then later the daffodils and hyacinths and fritillaries and primroses, and the honesty plants flower and gain some height. The tulips do their spectacular blazing thing but are generally on their way out by the time the bluebells start to flower and the azaleas burst into bright colour. This is when I really start to spend time sitting outside on the garden bench, enjoying the fresh air even if I often have to stay wrapped up warm throughout much of March and April.
By the beginning of May the peony greenery is flourishing and their tightly-wrapped flower buds are preparing themselves for their big blowsy entrance, as are the rhododendron. The hostas have pushed through the ground and are unfurling their swirly ribbed leaves, the lily plants are showing they mean business and the allium have developed their tight green buds. The strawberry plants are flowering, the apple tree is blossoming, the ferns are unfurling their tightly-coiled fronds and the garden is truly feeling beginning to feel properly alive again. My garden bench becomes my go-to seat for enjoying a cuppa, and I like to sit and look out in pleasure over the fruits of my labours.
Over the lush vibrant summer months through June, July and August I hope to spend as much time as I can out in the back garden, sometimes gardening and sometimes just relaxing, watching the biggest and brightest of the summer flowers come and go, watching the riot of colours change, enjoying the sights and smells and sounds of nature in my own little patch of paradise. This is only going to be my third summer here in my garden, so overall I’m still learning, still exploring and experimenting and finding my feet, but already I feel quite closely attuned to the ebb and flow of seasonal adjustments as the garden expands and contracts over the course of the year. Gardening grounds me, it is fast becoming my new passion in life.
Looking ahead to this coming autumn, this year I hope to plant more chrysanthemums in different colours, and intend to source a few more late-flowering beauties to complement the more muted autumnal palette of soft coppers and golds as summer leaves lose their green and start to fade and fall. September and October for me are the more contemplative, quiet months in my garden, perhaps being in the autumn of my own years gives me an affinity with finding new meaning and beauty in the changing garden as it evolves from one seasonal state to another? I find the autumnal garden can still be richly beautiful, just in a different way from spring or summer.
But all too soon (or so it feels) a chill wind will blow once more and the garden will withdraw almost in its entirety for the winter months. Things will stop growing, and will start disappearing again into the cold dark earth. Hopefully the hydrangeas I planted last year will have flowered well and will still hold their desiccated blooms throughout, keeping the allium and honesty company in their skeletal finery into the colder months of relative hibernation. And in turn I will withdraw, too, covering over my garden bench and keeping to the cosy warmth of the house for the duration of the cold Scottish winter, until the promise of spring comes again and my garden and I can be reunuited once more… ❤