I was pottering around the garden the other day, assessing what to do next, when I heard a strange tap tapping noise. It was quite loud, insistent, and it took me a while to work out where it was coming from.

It turns out that not all birds are as daft as the collared doves attempting to build a nest behind our old satellite dish – the rapping was the noise of a blue tit arranging things to her liking inside the nest box.

Blue Tit Nesting

I suppose it is yet another sign that things are moving along – the pond is boiling with frogs, the birds are building nests, the seedlings are rapidly outgrowing their seed trays and demanding attention. At this time of year things really start to speed up for the gardener. I sometimes feel as if the garden – and now allotment – are constantly tapping me on the shoulder and telling me all the things I should be doing.

In the last two days my replacement dahlia tubers arrived, as did my Jerusalem Artichokes. So the former need potting up in the greenhouse, the latter need planting up at the allotment. Then there are parsnips and early carrots to sow, chitted potatoes to plant – all under fleece, its going to be colder again this weekend. Not to mention the continuing seed tray shuffle (thank you to Karen@An Artist’s Garden for that wonderful phrase).

So of course this is the week that I collected some otherwise very welcome new work! Time – and energy – management is becoming crucial. At times like this I have to work at remembering to breath and enjoy the season, and not to panic, as nothing terrible is going to happen if my broad beans have to linger in the cold frame for another week before being planted out. There is time. It is not a race, or a competition of any kind. And there are so many things to enjoy, it would be a waste to miss out on them by being stressed by having too much to do.

Anenome blanda
Anenome blanda

The Anenome blanda that surprised me by popping up in my February End Of Month View and that Liz, Sylvia and Christina identified for me are flowering away, and need to be enjoyed because they will soon be gone again.

And of course my personal obsession, the Magnolia stellata that makes time at the kitchen sink so much more tolerable, changing daily.

Magnolia stellata bloom

So yes there is a lot to do, and yes, it will probably get “worse”, but I am going to make sure I also carve out time to just enjoy the sun on the daffodils – before getting back to work. Enjoy your Spring garden, and if, like me, you are feeling nagged by the jobs that need doing, remember to breath!

44 thoughts on “Changing gear

    1. Serious is right – after all that digging at the plot, it is time to sow and plant! I’ll be coming to you for advice, I’m sure…

  1. How true it is that for most of us we have to try and remember to pause and enjoy the season, at a period that can get manic for the gardener!

    That Stelllata is stunning!

    1. Its getting the balance right I suppose – as with all things! By the way, I’m glad your cat was not the victim of a terrible accident after all…

  2. It is easy to feel overwhelmed with all the work that needs to be done in the garden in spring. You are right to note that it is important to sit back and enjoy the season. And isn’t nature amazingly resourceful- why not a nest in a satellite dish!
    P.S. Your magnolia looks glorious.

    1. Hi Jennifer. Yes, if we run around all the time we fail to enjoy what we are running around planting and pruning!

  3. I have a handful of Anemone to plant today. I love your photos of yours. The Blue Tit is so different from the birds in the States. There are a few types that overlap — English Sparrows and Starlings….but it is nice to see others that we don’t have.

    1. I feel the same when I see all the amazing birds you get over there. But I do love the blue tits, so pretty.

  4. The lovely plants in your garden are what we expect to see in April. I do like your Magnolia Stellata. I have tried it several times in our garden, but not willing to flower in spite of success which I see in other parts of town.

    1. Hi Alistair, sorry to hear you can’t grow Magnolia stellata, strange, isn’t it, how conditions can vary so much in a small area.

    1. Oh, you really must – it is endless fun at this time of year. Hard to photograph the boiling phenomena though, they do that when running from the disturbance of a shadow on the horizon, aka me with my camera…

  5. Janet, your post brings to mind the poem that starts with the words :

    “What is this life if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.”

    It is indeed most important to manage to take some time out to enjoy the season. As you say those broad beans will not mind another week in the cold frame .

    1. Hi Anna, I nearly quoted that poem in my post! Mind you, I’m often to be seen standing and staring in the garden, generally when trying to decide what to plant where. Frantic activity interspersed with a little pot tweaking and lots of staring – must look very strange!

  6. Hi,

    My problem is spending too much time pausing that jobs just don’t get done!


    I’m thinking I need to move my Stellata into a more protected area, then I can have nice stunning flowers like you!

    1. Sounds much more relaxing! Moving the stellata has to be worth a try – its actually a pretty boring plant if it doesn’t flower. Good luck!

  7. Your picture of the nesting-box reminded me that I had promised myself I would get one like that – but I never got round to it. They are made of ceramic material, aren’t they? It looks like the Bluetit is happy with it. Is it the first year it has been used?

    1. Hi Mark, yes, I think it is ceramic – meant to be hard wearing and easy to clean, although the current occupents have been in situ since last summer, so U haven’t been able to get to it! Its been in use almost every year since I first put it up, which has to be over six years ago. We also used to get robins nesting in the honeysuckle on that same fence, but it desperately needed renovating, and it hasn’t grown back enough yet to entice them :-(

  8. The busyness can get overwhelming this time of year – I can’t imagine doing an allotment garden as well as my own – you’re so right to try and take time to downshift occasionally and appreciate the beauty :)

    1. Hello Cyndy, not sure how it is going to be having both garden and allotment – though in fairness my garden is a fraction of the size of yours! I really don’t know how I’d manage if the garden was any larger – or I worked full time.

  9. It is all about the balance…hard though when it is all staring at you…my spring gardening will be fast and furious once things dry up a bit…enjoy your flowers…

    1. “Fast and furious” – sounds a tad scary! Look forward to catching a glimpse of that from a safe distance ;-)

  10. How lovely to have bluetits moving in to the nest box, it’s wonderful when the babies emerge. There’s lots of jobs waiting for me. I haven’t done much sowing yet this year so that will be the first job I do this weekend, I’ve put it off long enough now.

    1. I think this coming weekend will see gardeners up and down the UK daring to sow and plant finally. I am anticipating lots of people being up at the allotment site.

  11. Janet, it seems by our recent posts we are not alone in feeling a bit overwhelmed! It is so important to take a moment to breath and enjoy. Looks as though you’re following your own advice…the magnolia is beautiful. Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. The magnolia is even more wonderful now – lots of flowers fully open. I indulged in a little light sowing this afternoon, maybe a little digging tomorrow. Have a great – and relaxing – weekend Cat.

  12. I love this time of year. How exciting that the blue tit looks like she’s going to move in! I have a list longer than my arm of things I need to get done around here. Just spent the entire week transplanting tomatoes and peppers, and now it looks like we have 10 straight days of rain in the forecast. So much for living in California! By the time the rain stops, my weeds will be taller than me! Oh well, maybe I should take this time to breathe as you suggest, before spring really gets rolling!

    1. Goodness, you have been busy! Definitely need to take time to breath ;-) Love your owl box post by the way – if I ever get to live somewhere with trees high enough I’d love to build one. In the mean time, I will have to “make do” with the blue tits and collared doves. Good luck battling your weeds…

  13. Why is it that the things we love can also be the things that overwhelm us and drive us crazy? Those anemone are gorgeous as is the magnolia. Think about it this way: if you weren’t such a fabulous gardener, you wouldn’t have anything to fuss over because nothing would be growing! You’re busy because you are so successful! :o)

  14. I worked for a while in a mediaeval building which had a central courtyard. There was rarely much light and little grew there – except a magnolia in the middle. In flower . . . it was wonderful. At other times, its twisted branches made the place special.


    1. Hi Esther, I agree, the shape of an interesting tree is rather special. We are thinking about growing a clematis through the Magnolia now that it is so much bigger to give extra interest in the summer, but it will have to be one we can cut back hard each winter because we love the bare branches and it would be spoiled by a mess of climber growth.

  15. How beautiful your Magnolia stellata is — and how much further on than mine. Reminds me of what is to come!

    1. Hi Kate. Comfort yourself with the thought that you will be enjoying your Magnolia long after mine is a tattered shadow of its former glory!

  16. The warmer days and heavy rain we had at the beginning of last week have made many things rush into growth here too; this year I’m feeling less stressed as the dry, sunny days we had in winter meant that very many of the jobs are complete. Also regarding planting autumn is really my busiest time, although of course vegetables are my prime concern in spring. Keep enjoying what you have. Christina

    1. Hello Christina, how lovely to be heading in to Spring knowing you are ahead of yourself with lots of jobs. Vegetables are my main obsession at the moment too! Hope you are enjoying your greenhouse, look forward to seeing pics of it.

  17. Thank you for these words of wisdom, Janet. I often find myself worrying about getting everything done on my to-do list, and this year my daughter’s wedding and reception is adding to the stress. But we must take time to enjoy all the wonders in the garden this time of year; a few minutes of just breathing deeply and enjoying it all helps to relieve stress better than anything else I know of.

    1. Hi Rose, you have so much on your plate this year with the wedding reception, I hope your garden is a source of calm and peace for you as well as work.

    1. Thanks Damo – I think it may be my favourite Spring plant, its certainly the one I obsess over the most.

    1. Hi Petra, I’m really sorry but I bought it about 6 years ago and haven’t a clue where I found it…

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