Pansies are a colourful delight in any garden. Photo supplied.

Gardens offer solace in these troubled times

Ellen Presley

Special to The Record

We really are living in an uncertain time. The only thing that seems to be somewhat reliable is nature and its undaunted determination to survive. When we are all asked to stay at home and get fresh air, it seems only natural to play in the garden and enjoy her beauty.

This is a very different spring for us but nature just keeps going as usual. The birds are still coming and every morning I am grateful to be heralded with a sweet chorus. The greenhouses are filled with brightly coloured blooms and intoxicating fragrance. The bees, frogs and hummingbirds are regular visitors and very entertaining.

And despite all the doom and gloom, there is so much beauty for everyone to enjoy. The snowdrops and crocuses have finished but the tulips and daffodils are making a stunning display. Gorgeous tulips like the ‘Princess Irene’ with its magnificent orange and red blend is joined by the romantic ‘Double Gudoshnik,’ which has a ruffled peony shape in a blend of colours, ranging from creamy yellow to coral and scarlet. It is so lush and yummy.

The iconic Narcissus ‘King Alfred’ is making his grand entrance with his sturdy head held high in bright yellow and my favourite, the lovely white ‘Thalia,’ which has an intoxicating fragrance that fills the air. While the regal King Alfred towers above everyone, the graceful Thalia seems to gently rise above and yet nestle in amongst the colourful multitude of pansies, violas and primulas. The gorgeous double pink blossoms of Camellia japonica ‘Nuccio’s Pink Jewel’ and the lavender pink blossoms of the rhodo PJM compacta combine to form a stunning backdrop. I am just in awe of the sheer beauty.

On the other side of the greenhouse are all the new lush vegetable starts. There is almost a frenzied push for everyone to plant their vegetable gardens. The seed packages and fresh vegetable starts seem to be flying off the shelves. And there is nothing like growing and harvesting fresh lettuce, kale, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes from your own garden. The flavour is outstanding. Enjoying the full flavour of naturally ripened blueberries, raspberries and strawberries is far superior to the shipped-in produce from the supermarkets. And I do love the sense of community as everyone trades their ‘secrets’ of how to grow the best garden with the highest yield.

Over the years, I have often heard couples argue over what to put in their garden. Should they use the limited space for flowers or vegetables? After all, vegetables are so practical and flowers an unnecessary luxury. And in this time of crisis, I hear some of my colleagues say no one should be shopping except for vegetables.

But I can’t help but be reminded by the famous quote from the prophet Mohammad: “If I had but two loaves of bread, I would sell one and buy hyacinths for they would feed my soul.” I believe we need both in our world. Now more than ever we need to feed our bodies and our souls with hope and beauty.

Happy gardening!

Ellen Presley is the owner of Anderton Nursery.

Comox Valleygarden life

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