After a couple of weeks in Sweden we are now back home with our feet firmly planted on Irish soil. Before we left it was unusually cold but in our absence quite a remarkable transformation has taken place.
Snow is now replaced by warm spring rain, buds are swelling everywhere and the birds cannot stop singing.
Looking back at the first half of March, we were thankful for the few days of cold but dry weather we had in the garden. It gave us time to cut back a lot of things including our raspberries. It might have been better to do this in the autumn, but as we ran out of time, March had to do. We treat all raspberries the same by removing old canes to the ground and keeping a selection of healthy looking canes evenly spaced out. To make harvesting easier we cut them back to about elbow height. After that we mulched them with rotted horse manure.
This makes for a great crop and the autumn varieties crop on both new and old canes, doubling the harvest. You can read more about this method in a previous post if you like.
We never tie our canes up but let them move freely around the garden, popping up where they want to. It keeps them healthy and vigorous and we always get a huge crop spaced out over several months.
We also cut back out Box outside the front door. It might be a bit early in the year but we hope for the best and that box blight will not strike. Our carrot planter had some overwintered carrots still in it and we cleared them out and stuck in a large amount of box cuttings in the sandy soil of the carrot planter and hopefully they will take root.
Hellebores are usually flowering in February in our garden but this year they only came into bloom by March, first accompanied by snow and later by sunshine. We really like the variety of shape and colour found in the flowers.
Now in early April, the groundcovers are starting to peep up throughout the mulches and we will only need to do a little bit of weeding before they fill in the spaces around shrubs and trees. Mint, oregano, creeping thyme and ajuga will all delight us and the wildlife for many months to come. In a forest garden they play a crucial role in keeping the soil healthy and easy to manage without too much intervention from us.
Plants are starting to wake up around our main circle and we look forward to another busy month in the garden, planting, mulching and pottering about.
When things get a bit challenging and difficult in life, comfort and healing can always be found in tending to the soil. We think any garden is a place immensely important to both physical and mental health. A sacred place where troubles melt away and time can be spent contemplating and figuring out a way forward in any demanding situation. We are very fortunate and grateful for every moment we can spend in ours.