It really has been a shockingly cold spring and we are probably now a month behind an average spring but spare a thought for the hill and upland farmers. Having been one myself for most of my life I can only imagine what these hardy souls are going through with ewes and cows with little or no milk and no grass to improve that situation in the short term. Our flowers and vegetables are late but they’ll come, might even bloom better than usual....but for many of the animals it’ll be too late and many,many won’t have been able to hang on until the grass finally comes.But that is the way of the natural cycles and they can be hard, very hard indeed.
This is the year Scotland is celebrating “Natural Scotland” and that term will mean different things to different people. It is also,I am told, the 10th year of this garden diary(that’s a much nicer word than blog). When Kenny and I took over the running of the gardens, 10yrs ago, they had suffered from quite a number of years of neglect and lack of investment.At our very first meeting with Fionn we discussed this aspect and the vision he had for developing the gardens. In one short sentence he gave us our remit “ Lads, I want you to build me a garden full of scent and colour but with a closeness to the natural world”. In this the year of Natural Scotland and our own 10yr anniversary I hope we have gone some way towards delivering that remit and it’s also an appropriate time to thank Fionn and the other directors for so generously funding the improvements to the gardens.Building herb gardens,pathways,Japanese gardens,herbasceous borders etc doesn’t come cheaply and it says a lot for their vision that we have been able to afford to make the changes that we have.
Today as I was running over the grass with our main ride-on mower I came to a patch where we had dug out some horribly invasive rhodies a few years ago. In that very patch rough grass had re-established itself and in the grass were a whole group of butter-yellow cowslips.
Is there any spring plant which can surpass the cowslip for understated gentleness and beauty? We hadn’t planted them there they had arrived on their own, drifting seeds on the wind finding a spot where they could settle and flourish.
In many ways we over manage many of our wild areas today, especially where wild flowers are concerned and we are far too tidy as well. This little group of cowslips might just be trying to tell us something about planning a semi wild garden......provide the right conditions and nature will, very often, do the rest and provide a little spectacle that will gladden your heart and make you smile.