Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Equinox and some garden thoughts

Today, March 20th, marks the Vernal Equinox  - the point of the early year when day and night are of equal length and explained thus:
'The March equinox is the movement when the sun crosses the true celestial equator – or the line in the sky above the earth’s equator – from south to north, around March 20 (or March 21) of each year. At that time, day and night are balanced to nearly 12 hours each all over the world and the earth’s axis of rotation is perpendicular to the line connecting the centers of the earth and the sun.
In gyroscopic motion, the earth’s rotational axis migrates in a slow circle based as a consequence of the moon’s pull on a nonspherical earth. This nearly uniform motion causes the position of the equinoxes to move backwards along the ecliptic in a period of about 25,725 years.'
Hmm. It's the sort of explanation that makes me wish I had concentrated more in school. Even now I feel my brain going walkabout at the very thought of things scientific. I am not proud of this.

My diary puts it rather more succinctly: 'First day of Spring', and yes, that's my sort of definition. I think all I need to know is, that from now until the summer solstice in June, the days will be getting longer - and as importantly, warmer. Hurrah for that.

The past week has been fine though - any frost (and there have been a succession of frosty mornings) has quickly melted away and sunshine has followed. We'll gloss over the few days when fog crept up the dingle and hung low and dank like a re-run of November weather. Frost may remind us not to get too complacent but buds are swelling and birds are singing ever earlier in the morning and at dusk.

I've been giving the garden a bit of a spring-clean and doing some of the jobs which should have been done in the autumn. The long bitter winter has taken its toll and there are many gaps where plants have been lost. However, I shall see this as an opportunity. I don't suppose that the same will apply to weeds - they will survive come what may. I hauled out buttercups by the bucketful yesterday and know that lurking underground are the horrid white roots of bindweed just waiting until my back is turned. Bastards.

So it's time for some major replanting. This morning I have got out my big book of good ideas for planting combinations. All very inspiring - beautiful photographs of borders at the peak of perfection. Colour, tone and texture to aspire to and be inspired by. I know the theory.

The trouble seems to be that my garden doesn't. Like some cantankerous old aunt it knows what it likes, and it likes what it knows - and the 'thrivers' and survivors are not necessarily the plants I wish to plant exclusively. Dog roses, hardy geraniums (particularly Bevan's Variety), Nepeta Six Hills Giant, Viburnam tinus and, curiously, Angelica just love it here and push and shove weaker specimens out. I love them too, but in moderation.

I am writing a list. It will be tempered with the knowledge that the cissies of the plant world will not be included. It will probably be a long one. Much money will inevitably change hands. I will wish I had shares in the Dingle and Derwen.

I shall buy and plant hopefully. This is after all a time of year filled with such promise.


rachel said...

Hardy geraniums..... why is it that the ugly muddy-pink ones are the most successful? In my tiny patch, anyway. Same with the columbines - the really pretty ones seem to be cowed by the thugs and die off sharpish.

Cro Magnon said...

I'm begging for a frost-free spring. All my peach trees are in full flower; it needs just one night below about minus 4, and the whole lot will be wiped out.

Cro Magnon said...

I'm begging for a frost-free spring. All my peach trees are in full flower; it needs just one night below about minus 4, and the whole lot will be wiped out.

Pondside said...

I spent yesterday getting ready to renovate a very big circular bed - tearing out hardy and invasive vines and planning what to put in the new space. I'm thinking hardy shrub roses, hydrangea and viburnum so that there's some green or some colour year round. It was a back-breaking but satisfying day.

Fennie said...

I don't understand the equinox thing either but one thing I know it isn't is the first day of spring. I know this because spring presumably lasts for three months, like its sister seasons and that means that, according to your diary we have spring ending on midsummer's day. Something's wrong somewhere. So, try again. Spring starts om 1 March and ends 31 May - doesn't that sound better?

Preseli Mags said...

I've got sad little gaps in my garden too. Roll on spring. It's raining here today so I've stopped cuddling my hens and I'm making lists.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Hardy geraniums are a pain in the whatsit .... we're haunted every year by a triffid-like variety which doesn't seem to feel obliged to interrupt its quest for world domination to oblige with more than the occasional flower .
But one can't be grumpy for long in Spring !