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  • Writer's pictureSofias Country Gardens

Spring bulbs at West Dean

This time last year I was lucky enough to get away to West Dean College, UK, for a weekend to re-charge my batteries and enjoy the early spring that the milder English winters provide. It turned out to be a bad-weather-weekend, with low grey skies and a chill wind that cuts through the bones. I didn't mind. Back at home in Finland the snow still covers the ground at this time of year, and there are few signs that spring will ever come around again.

In stark contrast to my home, spring had absolutely arrived at the gardens of West Dean. The lawns underneath the orchard in the old kitchen garden were carpeted with a sea of early crocuses, the likes of which I have rarely seen. Crocus chrysanthus is a species crocus that happily spreads when it finds a habitat to its liking, and the sheer amount of flowers underneath the apple trees is quite something else. Here and there, a few snowdrops had turned up and settled in the mix.

I always feel there is something other worldly about old pruned apple trees. Each year I look at my own and simply know they will never get that shape no matter how many pruning courses I attend. I once met a seasoned gardener who was an expert at pruning fruit trees, and he gleefully told me he has been flown around the world to attend to the fruit gardens of the rich and famous. I completely get that. If I had unlimited funds I would rather spend them on having the perfect fruit orchard than a sports car!

While dreaming, I'm thinking that I would also like to have a large wood-framed greenhouse. In my climate the wooden frame would need to be tended to ever so often, and then I would have someone painting and caring for the wood each spring. It's nice to dream...

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