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Hope and gardens spring eternal

It's a pretty decent day at the farmette. Not too cold, and there's no snowstorms in the forecast. We're still kind of buried from weeks of the white stuff coming down. But it was light out when Beatrix planted her furry butt on my chest this morning at the crack of 7 a.m.

My walking path is actually partly a snowmobile trail, and they were out in force yesterday. They're very courteous and don't mind that I'm borrowing their real estate. So yes, in some respects, we are still in the depths of winter.

But down at the Saugeen river, the ice is definitely breaking up and the water is rushing clear and cold much faster than it had been on previous trips. So spring is on its way. This is the time of year I crack open the seed catalogues (or stare at the Mac monitor) and start gearing up for planting season.

Actually, at this stage, it's more daydreaming than hard-core shopping.

But I thought I'd share some of my preliminary ideas for the flower beds. Vesey's 'Cottage Garden Seed Collection' comprises hollyhocks, foxglove, delphinium and lupines. These are four of the older varieties that might suit our older house down to a T. Rob's a huge fan of hollyhocks, so I think it's time to get with it and plant some of the tall (they grow up to 10 feet), rangey beauties, perhaps up against the west wall, where there's lots of sun all the time. Their history is pretty cool - coming originally from east Asia, moving across to the middle east where the English first encountered them during the Crusades. They were used as a salve for injured horses. Hence the 'hock' and 'hol(l)y'.

I want to refresh my glad collection a bit. I have dozens of bulbs that I save year on year, but I think I'd like to add a new variety or two.

Look at this one. It's called Black Jack and it practically vibrates out of the photo. It'll definitely stand out among my softer peaches, pinks, whites and yellows. It, too, has a military background, given that it's name in Latin literally means 'little sword'.

Anybody who knows me knows I'm a sucker for sunflowers. While I will definitely plant some of the gigantic Russians that tower over everything, I think I'll also go a bit funky and plant these guys. Vesey's calls this mix Razzmatazz for obvious reasons.

The sunflower's history is much more domesticated, and was grown as a crop as early as 3,000 years ago by indigenous populations in North America. Apparently, some archaeologists say that it might have been cultivated before corn!

Finally, I want to get more irises in my beds. I already have umpteen varieties including a nice display of those traditional bronze coloured bearded ones and some friendly little yellow and white dwarfs.

But I'm greedy and can't resist.

This one caught my eye as I was scrolling through Vesey's vast and wonderful website.

It's called 'Beautiful Blue Eyes' and I just love the bits of white and yellow at the centre. Its history goes back to Greek mythology. Iris was the messenger of the gods. She was the link between heaven and earth, and the flower has come to symbolize faith, hope and wisdom.

Let's hope I will use some wisdom - and a bit of restraint - when it comes to actually buying for the season. Until next week.

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