The Pre-Spring Garden


Spring always knocks on the door relatively early here. Thankfully our winters are traditionally short and mild. Cold enough that we need a good sturdy winter coat and certainly appreciate the warmth of the fire, the crackling of logs and a hearty soup. But normally it does not outstay its welcome. By February the garden starts to take up more and more of my daily thoughts.

Frosts are somewhat rare in our neck of the woods. Each winter we’ll get one or two, rarely serious enough to do any damage. In six years I’ve wrapped the lemon trees twice in winter fleece. But and there is always a but, we have to be cautious. Two years ago the temperature plummeted at the end of March, snow was forecast and indeed snow fell, blanketing the entire region in a carpet of white. It was magical, so rarely seen here, a once in a decade occurrence. We threw snowballs and breathed in the frozen silence which surrounded us. But it had its consequences, the freezing conditions caused havoc amongst the local vineyards. We were spared that disaster, our vines produced as normal but we had no plums or cherries. Our lemons and lime tree survived but again took a whole year to recover and produced no fruit for 12 months.

It’s always a worry, no matter how much we cherish these mild pre-spring days. Its warm enough to be outside without a coat sometimes and all around things are changing, flowers and blooms emerging on a daily basis. We can get to work in earnest. But we do have to keep one eye on the weather, another freak cold snap would cause havoc.

P8260613P8260610P8260592However, this winter although one of the mildest on record is also the wettest since records began with horrendous flooding in places. Locally the ground is still waterlogged in many places although thankfully in our garden the drainage is good and I’ve been able to start working on the borders. The weeds seem to grow all winter.

P8260586P8260608P8260609The vegetable garden is next on the agenda, right now it is a general mess. I’ve cut back the autumn raspberries and given them a good mulch. The leeks are looking good and will soon be ready to harvest. The rest, well lets just say there’s a lot of work needed!

Impatient to get going I’ve planted a few tomato seeds, working in the potting shed in the evenings with the warmth taking the chill out of the air.

IMG_0770Now sadly it’s time to start dead heading daffodils already, how quickly they come and fast they seem to fade. I planted these bulbs when we first bought the house in a scrappy piece of the garden that had been used for a bonfire. Now it is a part of the chicken garden. It makes me smile to see the girls mingle amongst the flowers every spring.



There are also tiny purple violets, in two different shades covering vast swathes of lawn right now.P8260602And blossom is appearing in every corner, not just in our garden, but alongside roads and in villages, in varying shades of pinks and whites. A constant cheerful reminder that spring is well and truly on her way.P8260590P8260587P1130215P8260607P8260594The potting shed is about to get very busy, I’m filling seed trays, moving them into the sunshine on warm days, planning and planting. If I have an hour to spare it’s where you’ll find me. This was once the laundry room for the house. Now it has another use and it is one of my favourite parts of the property.IMG_0784



47 thoughts on “The Pre-Spring Garden

  1. I love seeing all the new life popping up in your garden. Ahhh to see early spring. We are still a ways from Spring here in the US but hopefully soon. We are seeing small clues Spring is on it’s way. Robins have been spotted so that is a good sign we may have an early Spring. Enjoyed all your pretty pics today. Have a great week.

  2. Lovely photos as always, Susan. Your garden will soon be flourishing! We are still having hot days, but this morning there was a distinct nip in the air. (In New Plymouth, mind you, so not quite as warm as Auckland.) I can’t say I’m looking forward to the colder weather, and for the first time in a few years I’m staying put for the winter! Best wishes.

    1. Hopefully your winter will not be harsh, I try to put a brave face on winter, I tell myself it is vital to have seasons etc etc., but I am always so happy to see signs of spring! xx

  3. Your photos are beautiful!! Love seeing the daffodils with the ducks and geese! Here in the states, we have daffodils,
    plum ,pear and cherry blossoms. Last week, we had a couple of inches of snow…..fantastic! I wish I were back in France and starting seedlings at our village house in Haute-Vienne.

    1. I just keep my fingers crossed that we don’t get a cold snap. The Arum Lillies are about to flower which is quite bizarre and a frost will kill them off completely, they come back of course but the leaves have not died back for two years now and they are huge! xx

  4. Your beautiful garden has two of my very favorite flowers..euphorbia and primula! Beautiful! So very beautiful! Thanks for highlighting your signs of early spring for those of us in colder climes. This winter has been a hard one for me as the world seems so fraught. We have two grandchildren due, both boys, one any minute and the other in August. I fret so about the state of the world they are being born into. However, my kind husband keeps reassuring me that it is the cold and darkness of winter that makes me feel so dispirited. Thank you for the photos and descriptions to show us that spring is coming.

    1. I think we all feel better once spring is on the way. How exciting, two new grandsons, that will be wonderful. The world is a mess, I am now watching everything with coronavirus, another disaster and worrying for our daughter who is in Vietnam, life is not easy. Keep smiling, keep hoping xx

  5. Your flowers look lovely & I enjoy seeing pictures of the geese & ducks in among the flowers. We have had some warm days here in Ohio & then turned cold so hope the trees are not damaged as they looked like they might be budding. Thank you so much for your pictures!!! Enjoy your spring!!

  6. I am always delighted to open my email and see what is happening in your part of the world. Your photography is exceptional and really brings your blog to life. I am heartened to know that Spring is happening and that it will surely get to our part of the world soon. We have had such a wet and windy winter – no snow but lots of hailstones. We are more fortunate than those to the south of us in parts of England where they have had terrible flooding. I will keep looking at your beautiful and inspiring photos to cheer me up. Thank you, Susan!

    1. Thanks so much Margaret, the news of the flooding is awful. What a winter for storms. We have had so much rain here too, the most on record, endless flooding. But I think it is warmer here than it is with you, although today was damp and grey and rain is forecast for most of the week. At least the daffodils bring a smile to our faces xx

  7. It really brings it home to me how different life is either side of the Atlantic Pond reading this. We are actually further south than you – on the same latitude as Madrid – and yet we have yet to see a daffodil nor even a crocus despite the warmest winter that locals can recall! It also brings it home to me how long since I felt well enough to venture into this space … this will be the second spring; two summers, two winters and two autumns have passed and I have missed you. I hope upon all hope that all is well in your world (I have kept some finger on your pulse through a certain little lady and her tennis via my certain much much littler dog, The Bean and their Instagrams) and I sincerely hope to see much more of you as I become stronger and more able to read and write in this place.

  8. Susan, so glad to see your wonderful photos. We also have our daffodils blooming, and the cherry blossoms are just starting to open.
    Wonderful to see all three dogs, we were wondering …
    Ali xx

  9. Always enjoy your photos & stories. Still a little chilly in Texas. Hope to get more “yard work” done this year, now that my job has ended. Love hearing about your French Lifestyle. Smiles, Paulette

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