Ten days ago, I cycled through Kensington Palace Gardens on my way home from work. It was an oasis of calm and beauty amid the chaos as people rushed to gather supplies in light of the fast emerging pandemic crisis. I was struck by the well-manicured front gardens, displaying blossom-laden trees, camellias in full bloom and one with a multitude of tulips set in a broad, curvaceous bed.
I now have plenty of opportunity to enjoy my own spring flowers on the windowsill. Inspired by a feature on Gardener’s World in the autumn, I layered bulbs in pots to produce a succession of blooms of pretty blue iris, daffodils, narcissi and tulips.
The best news recently has been that we can continue to visit our allotments during the lockdown, since it is considered a form of exercise. This is certainly the case, but the plot is also my main source of produce for most of the year and I have been harvesting purple sprouting broccoli for the past few weeks. Nettle tops, cleaver shoots (also known as goosegrass) and sorrel are in ready supply and I add them to soups.
The young leaves of broad beans planted a few weeks ago are beginning to show and I have sown a few rows of peas, radishes, celeriac and cabbage. My main job, however, has been to add the base layers from my compost heap to the beds in preparation for planting.
On a recent visit to the plot, I discovered a little burrow in the heap where I had emptied my compost bucket the previous week. Inside I could see a ball of fur and a tail. Last summer, I frequently caught sight of a small rat, contentedly making its way between both my neighbours’ overgrown plots and it seems to have now emerged again after the winter. Never having been partial to these rodents, I have to confess that, later in the day, it did look quite adorable when I spotted its furry face and whiskers alongside a trio of blue hyacinths.