As we pulled into the driveway of Barnsdale, my heart sank a little. The daffodils I had been eagerly hoping to be in flower were still tightly shut and showing no teasing hints of yellow. Thankfully the sun was shining and I knew we had an exciting day ahead of us with Adam Frost.
The morning was spent doing presentations about the Bauhaus art movement, which is the inspiration behind Adam’s Chelsea design this year. Our short presentations focused on the movement as a whole, as well as specific artists who were really influential, like Marcel Breuer and Wassily Kandinsky. It was really good to get a better understanding of the movement and the different elements that Adam has used to inspire his design. I’m sure it will come in useful when we are ‘manning’ the show garden in May! In the afternoon we jumped in our cars and headed over to Adam’s house. The rest of the day was spent out in the sunshine getting hands-on with all sorts of jobs. There was real buzz of atmosphere as we all got stuck in. We planted trees, dug up Adam’s lawn and put down hardcore in preparation for laying an area of patio and even had a go at building a stonewall. Fueled by tea, cake and a large helping of excitement about being at Adam Frost’s house, we made visible progress a lot quicker than we had anticipated.
We had a photographer spend the day with us, taking individual shots and group photos around Barnsdale. At the start of the Academy, having a photographer around would have made us all a bit uneasy. However I think we have all got used to it now and barely noticed they were even there.
The third installment of our RHS Practical Gardening course filled the rest of our week at Barnsdale. It was fortunate that the weather was dry as a lot of this month’s activities were outside; seed sowing outdoors, planting bare root plants, mulching, identifying weeds, planting climbers and spotting pests and diseases. One of my favorite things that we do on RHS days is to simply take a walk around the garden. However, often our ‘walks’ are barely more than a few yards as our conversation and questioning leads to a maze of different topics.
Planting the bare root plants was really interesting, especially having not handled them before. Fuelled on a lot of tea and biscuits, we then potted up the bare root plants ready to be sold later in the year in the nursery. No doubt I shall buy one (or probably more) to take home and put in my own ever-expanding garden.
With a whisper of spring in the air there was plenty of wildlife lurking around the garden. Two hares were skipping around the field on the other side of the hedge. Fingers crossed before the end of the year I might be lucky enough to catch them on my camera. The warmer air had woken the frogs who flooded to every pond in the garden. We counted over 20 in one pond alone. Perfectly camouflaged to hide in damp leaf covered areas, or poking their heads out of the pond like the tips of submerged stones. It was only their unusual calling that caught my attention. The two Barnsdale cats were also enjoying the sunshine, especially when warmed through the glass of the old-fashioned metal cloches. It had obviously been a busy morning patrolling the garden for the fierce felines! There were many more plants in flower compared to last month and I have realised that from now on it will be a struggle to decide which photos to include.
At the start of the week I was doubtful about whether I would have any photos of daffodils at all. For me, they are a definite sign that spring is only just around the corner. Fortunately, after four days of warm, dry weather, I was rewarded with a host of yellow trumpets. Planted on-masse or dotted here and there throughout the borders, the more I looked the more suddenly seemed to appear. The garden is going to start to change so quickly and dramatically, I can’t wait to see how it looks in April.