HELEN LANG: Slow and steady, flowers bloom

Garden columnist sees little signs of spring in her garden

Well, we actually made it. It really is spring according to the calendar. I’ve been going on about it for weeks and although the days are getting longer, they are still very cold. There was frost last night, which is most unpopular with those of us who are wanting to get planting things. Mind you, when we count the days it takes for seeds to sprout many things would be OK if planted now. Don’t plant beans or corn, though, it’s still too cold for them – they prefer a warm soil. As for started seedlings, available in some garden centres, you’d be wise to wait a while, although cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and broccoli are tough enough to stand chilly nights, especially if you cover them with a floating row cover, Reemay for example.

I’ve seen some tulips. The early ones (Kaufmanianna) are flowering already outside in a garden. The ones I have here on the balcony in a large pot, although they are the same variety, are only just in bud. Never mind, they will be a joy when they do bloom. The balcony is looking pretty bare at the moment, although the scilla are flowering, but they are so tiny they are lost where they are living (in with last year’s geraniums).

Actually, rather than take out these geraniums for fear of disturbing the bulbs in with them, I cut them off about an inch above the soil and, believe it or not, they are now beginning to make new growth. Whoopie ding – there is a garden god for sure.

The sweet peas I planted more than a month ago are now way too tall and very frail, so I’ll put in some more sweet pea seeds as an insurance policy.

Inside I have the most beautiful dark pink African violet in uproarious bloom. The flowers go way beyond the pot edges. It is truly lovely. The helleborus blooms that Annie brought me two weeks ago are still blooming, but beginning to droop a bit, but they have been really wonderful. And Annie, this is NOT a hint.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.