Column: The first properly warm days

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As I type this I am sitting in the garden, warm enough in the shade and listening to sparrows cheep in the hedge, whilst from the roof a starling performs a succession of rather weird noises – part warble, part car alarm.

Beneath my feet the ants are circling the crazy paving, disappearing down through a crack to what must be an underground nest, and all around lawn mowers can be heard. It’s a proper warm day!

Yesterday we went through to Killiecrankie for a walk along River Garry. It took a while to get there through the Easter traffic, but the effort was worth it. The walk incorporates footbridges over the river with stunning waterfall views and the path was studded to left and right with starry white wood anemones.

A couple of peacock butterflies were basking in the sun and orange tips fluttered around. The sight of an orange tip is a sure sign that spring is properly here.

Meanwhile, back in the garden the tulips are at their peak. In the Autumn, a friend gave me several packs of white tulip bulbs for my birthday and, having run out of garden, I planted them in terracotta pots.

There are Purissima tulips which open out almost as big as saucers in the sun, a contrast to the elegant, fluted White Triumphator.

Meanwhile tulip Daytona has a lovely fringed edge and holds its small frilly flowers very upright. The beauty of having them in pots is that they can be moved around to the best vantage point: on the patio out back or by the front door.

Indoors, I have started my sweet peas off in pots and after only a week or so they are an inch high. I will keep them indoors for a while, pinching out the main shoot as they grow to encourage side shoots.

Then I’ll harden them off gradually before they go out in a few weeks.

As a rule I cannot be bothered with annuals, but for sweet peas I make an exception. Their scent is lovely and they flower for so long that they are worth a little bit of effort every Easter.