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The Sign of the Swallows

by Kathryn Cronin – 8th May 2018 @ 10:10pm
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I have been waiting to write this month's garden musings without really knowing why. Then I saw them and knew I had waited so I could herald their return. It's not the bluebells, beautiful though they are. We had lived in Church Minshull some years before we stumbled across the small woodland that is filled to the brim with their scented nodding heads. I feel it is almost the most magical place in the village when the earth turns into a sea of blue.

No, the return I have been waiting for is that of the swallows, swooping their joyous flight to nest in our garage. They were not always greeted so affectionately as truth be told Church Minshull readers they make a terrible mess under their nests but even that inconvenience didn't get them evicted. What has this got to do with the garden you could rightly be forgiven for asking at this point? Well, when the swallows return, the earth is warm enough to direct plant your seeds.

I am direct sowing hardy annuals like cornflowers, honesty, marigolds and scabious and if I'm feeling brave enough, I might even plant out my sweet peas. It is also the best time to divide snowdrops when they are in the green. My grand plan is to create a whole lawn of them. Obviously, there's a bit to go on that endeavour. That's the thing with gardening. It takes time and seasons to create a garden.

Were you at the Plant Fair? As well as the plants, many of which I recognise growing in my own garden planted by previous occupants, the annual Church Minshull gardening event of the year has another draw as far as I'm concerned.... the tea and cakes. Obviously I was like a child in a sweet shop.

April feels like it has passed in the blink of an eye with both triumphs and tribulations. The good news is the extremely difficult to germinate delphinium seeds that sat in the fridge for 3 long weeks of cold treatment have germinated...... the bad is that only a few of them will grow to be tall spires as many were eaten by a stray snail. Ah yes, slugs and snails, every gardener's curse. I am watering in nematodes – biological control for the slugs and snails – in the next few days. Every year as I watch the mistle thrush's bounce over the lawn, it reminds me why I avoid using the effective but poisonous to birds blue pellets. My lovely neighbours are sending me their egg shells so I can grind them to scatter around those precious but tasty seedlings. Finely ground, egg shells are a really effective barrier.

My narcissi are almost over and I am already planning to plant more as they are great for cutting and are very perennial, returning year on year and reminding me of home. The tulips that were super easy last year have been really tricky this year with all that cold then those two really hot days which almost blew the lot of them. Mother nature sometimes has to remind you who is in charge I think.

The bats were out last night. I think they are the only wildlife that seem to have taken no interest in my botanical endeavours. Hopefully by the time I write again, all of my Monbrechia Lucifer, generously donated from another Church Minshull garden, will be planted. Here's hoping for some more splendid weather.

Read more about Kathryn's gardening endeavours at

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