In the autumn I dug out a new border, filling it with crocus, a rainbow of tulips, Allium and a multitude of other species in the hope that they would provide spring colour while the rest of the garden began to wake from its winter slumber.
The unseasonable warm weather in December gave them a false sense of security causing them to awaken, their green shoots pushing through the cold earth skywards. It started with one or two brave bulbs with ten or twenty more quickly following suit.
They are now, like much of the country, covered in a blanket of snow that has created an eery silence in the garden and hushing the normally busy streets.
I was sifting through my photographs the other day and I realised how many pictures that I have taken of my chive patch. It may be because, aside from my strawberries, they are one of the only things in the garden not to have been nibbled by beasties, sat on by my cat or dug up by my boy.
Last year I bought two tiny pots of chives from the garden centre. They looked sad and spindly, just a few stems on each. I planted them in a newly dug border at the patio end of the lawn. They grew well over the summer and provided us with many, many cutting of the delicious onion-y flavoured herb (delicious with buttered new potatoes, stirred in to a garlicky mayonnaise, sprinkled in salads and tossed over fritatta). When the winter arrived the bed filled with water and didn’t drain for weeks.
One of my main reasons for wanting a border of chives was for their beautiful, purple flowers. I got the idea of having an edible border was from Alys Fowler’s The Edible Garden. I liked the idea of having a pretty patch that provided colour as well as food. I also planted other cut and come again herbs, a small lavender (lavender flowers are delicious mixed in to ricotta cheese and stuffed into canelloni or ravioli) bush and some spring bulbs (for early colour, not edible). All but the chives perished in the boggy border.
In early April I decided to dig them out. I moved the chives to a pot on the patio and in to a corner of one of my small raised beds. The ends of the chives were yellowing and straggly so I cut them right back, being careful to avoid cutting off any flower heads. Within a few week the flower heads were beginning to turn purple, the recent spell of hot weather brought them into bloom and edible stems are plump and juicy. The boggy border has dried out a bit and has been grassed over. A new site for the edible bed has yet to be determined.