The songbirds were obviously happy, singing sublimely whilst sunning themselves in the morning's crisp, sharp light. The sun beat on our backs strongly enough so as to facilitate a family breakfast alfresco, the first of the year. And as we sat there en famille, my two year old arguing with my seven year old about whose spoon belonged to whom and throwing scrambled eggs in the face of his increasingly irritated father, my 'cloaked-in-a-mask-of-kids-outdoor-entertainment' plan, of a type sure to be familiar to gardening mothers worldwide, was finally ready to roll out.
Operation seed-sow has been casually chugging along for a few weeks now. Windowsill propagators have been procured (Sankey propagators, and fabulous Windowsill Gro Kit 66cm, roughly £15 online), seed compost (John Innes) has been slid into deliveries meant for clients, and a couple of those cartoon smothered seed packets meant for ‘little green gardeners’ have snuck into the kind of seeds that mummy has every intention that this year she will sow.
You see, there are definite advantages of not doing Chelsea this year. After two autumns and springs of hard graft (ever since my youngest was born), spent dashing around, not sleeping, and generally being absent at this time of year (I confess that this has been also in mind if not body), this year I can spend precious, much-needed time with my children, doing mummy, every day type things. To my mind this definitely includes a whole-hearted attempt at getting them into gardening, if that's possible in a world where (for my seven year old at least), Wii, Nintendo and computers generally are king.
Suddenly this unexpected warm snap was my chance to begin carrying out that promise to myself, and to them. Seed trays were dispensed (one each, naturally, to prevent squabbling) seed labels flung upon the deck and permanent markers in various colours scattered attractively to allow for maximum label adornment. Watering cans loaded with fine sprinklers, seeds and tupperware for seed packet dispertion were on hand to allow for a factory line of seed sowing, hopefully minimising distractions from the task in hand and keeping the workforce focused. Even with the organisation of a type I never thought I had in me, I envisioned that we’d manage half an hour, max.
So three hours later, with both children STILL wanting more, 200 sunflowers of various types (OK, OK, but what great gifts, and how popoular will I be with the school gardening club and playgroup?), four varieties of tomato (a mix of bush and tumblers, cordons – who has the time?), Angelica, Alcea, Mexican hats, Sweet peas and so on were all sown, labelled and in propagators. I actually had to beg my children to stop so I could cook supper. It was a wonderful afternoon of time spent together, mingled with the promise of more time to be spent together caring for the plants the seeds will eventually become.....wonderful.
Plus, I may make gardeners of them after all…..
Delighted would be understatement.