It's that time of year when I start to think about seeds and plants again. Nothing has actually been sown yet, but the box of seeds has been eased down off of its high shelf and I've had a rootle through.
It's not an especially large box, but tucked away inside, sleeping soundly, are enough seeds to fill a garden and an allotment with all manner of flowers, herbs, salads and vegetables. I even got out the garden notebook (you knew I'd have a notebook, yes?) and had a look at the lists of things from previous years and the scribbled notes I've made about which varieties of things to try this year.
The garden at this time of year is of course always perfect, because it all exists in my imagination. A profusion of pretty flowers, plump juicy vegetables, butterflies and bees, honestly, I wish you could see it, it's like Chelsea Flower Show in here (the small sensible gardens, not the big architectural ones). The reality will have more slugs and less profusions, but it will give me something to aim at next time.
A couple of inspirational books have been helping with the daydreaming. Firstly Louise Curley's lovely "Cut Flower Patch". It's a book I won in a giveaway last year, and I happened to open it the other day and it really reminded me how wonderfully rewarding growing flowers can be.
The simplest little vase with a few home grown blooms always lifts my mood. It reminded me to include a few things for cutting around the garden and the plot.
The second book is "The Writer's Garden" by Jackie Bennett, that I was lucky enough to receive in a giveaway on Tanya's blog, Lovely Greens.
It really is gorgeous. It features the gardens of twenty writers, beautifully photographed by Richard Hanson, as well as excellent pieces on each writer. The information is fascinating, a little biography of the writers and some of the thinking behind their homes and gardens. Here are a couple of the entries that really caught my eye.
Roald Dahl's gypsy caravan, which you can just see nestling amongst the trees.
The stunning Lake District countryside where Beatrix Potter lived. Perfection.
And the vegetable garden she created at her farmhouse. It's easy to imagine Peter Rabbit stealing the odd lettuce.
The gardens I'm most drawn to are the more natural looking ones. Lots of greenery, plants rambling over stone, edibles mixed in with the flowers.
And as always, the walled gardens. This one is at Wordsworth House in Cockermouth, where William Wordsworth was born in 1770 and spent a few idyllic childhood years.
Lastly the garden of the Dorset cottage where three generations of Thomas Hardy's family lived. It's a true cottage garden, bursting with life, but prettily informal. Vegetables mix with flowers and there's a small orchard of cider apples.
So you can see why I'm feeling inspired and ready for the new growing season. Of course nothing here will look like these amazing places, but nonetheless, even the smallest corner of greenness with a pretty flower or two has the power to calm and cheer and cure all manner of ills. I can't wait to shake out those first seeds.