I have also been planting more bulbs. I have just about finished the daffodils today with pots of mixed February Gold and Iris Reticulata Harmony for outside and seven pots, three daffodil and four iris, for the bench in the wooden greenhouse where I hope they will flower early in that chilly gap between Christmas and true spring. It is a time when I am always aware of an almost painful waiting for things to start to grow and I hope the pots will be a flame of blue and yellow to lift my spirits on a cold sunny day when the greenhouse is warm enough to sit in with a cup of tea.
This dahlia, Moonflower, is the only one that has really flourished this year but it is so good that next spring I will do cuttings and see if I can have four or five and some of the deepest burgundy red ones too. I came late to liking dahlias and still feel I am finding my way in learning how to care for them. I went to a garden at Erddig with my parents for an Apple Day a couple of weeks ago and there was a bed of dahlias which made my heart sing, so, must have more.
I have had a weekend where my head has been full of the garden and I have been filling my notebook with this kind of reminder all evening long. Ian has been struggling with a really painful tooth and a potent mix of antibiotics and painkillers to treat it which has made him feel quite rough. I want to bounce around talking about what to do in the side garden when the builders have gone. It is not a big area but it is the nearest bit of garden to the house and scruffy and undeveloped. I want it to be full of flowers and to move the herbs from the kitchen garden so that they are nearer the door. My head is full of what will grow in sun and shade and paths and planting plans but this is perhaps not the time.
Do you remember some pretty hideous compilation CDs in the early nineties called "Now that's what I call Music!"? As I was out this morning with my camera, the hens came belting down from the wooded area behind the house. They were aiming in a giddy rush for a hidden corner where, if you peer through the undergrowth, you can often see them perching in the tree. As they whizzed by I thought "Now that's what I call free range!" The photo catches the sense of their hidden place but doesn't really convey the happy speed with which they were travelling.
I have some work to do in the morning and then the drive to Manchester. I am here by myself tonight. It is very quiet. If I move away from the low hum of the computer there is the flare and crackle of the fire and behind that silence. Occasionally the cat shifts on the rug, almost but not quite soundlessly. It is very dark outside, a starless, cloudy night. Inside it is warm and light and quiet. I love this house when Ian and I are here together or when it is full of people and the children and their friends and partners are sitting round the table or chatting by the fire. But sometimes it is a real pleasure to have it to myself.