Ready for Spring

February 19, 2018 by Ray Morgan

I've never had a February in my flat before. We're coming up to our one year anniversary in our little ground floor gaff, our first purchase, but for now, Februarys are new here. I'm itching to get back out in the garden again in better weather, I'm impatient for blooms and filling new pots, and getting soil under my fingernails.

I popped out there on Saturday to see how it was doing. Our winter flame cornus plants are still blaring their electric burgundy stems. The grasses we potted up in old soup pans from Battlesbridge look as good as the day we bought them. The hyacinth bulbs that Jo bought from Pitsea market and nervously planted in the autumn are springing up, and it's thrilling! Bright green shoots of bunches of soon-to-be daffs are stretching skyward, freeing themselves of the ground. I stumbled upon an impossibly beautiful collection of crocuses, violet with neon yellow stamens, just poking up between the tough hebes that my Mum helped me plant in.

They made me stop and stare: such incredible beauty, a symbol of exciting things to come. I'd never seen these little guys before. The previous owner of our place had sadly passed away, and I like to think the garden is her lasting legacy. We're determined to keep it going. Soon, there will be flowers on the camellia, we're planning beds of lavender and a small area to put a table and chairs that gets the best of the sun. The weather is finally lifting from bitter and bone-chilling to blue skied, and while still cold, not quite so finger-snapping.

On Saturday, after taking endless photos of said surprise crocuses, I decided to tackle a craft project. I'm sure many of you aren't new to IKEA hacks (pimping cheap IKEA stuff into something cool). My best friend created an incredible play shop for her children using IKEA wooden crates and I instantly thought: I need to find a hack of my own. I had been pointed in the direction of the Dove Cottage blog where a £22 white metal trolley (SUNNERSTA! - sorry, love their shouty names) that bore more than a little resemblance to something by an NHS bedside had been turned into a gold, Great Gatsby-esque drinks trolley. Blingy and camp, I wanted it to be mine.

I've had all the stuff for ages cluttering up the hall, but it's been so cold I couldn't stand the thought of being out in the garden for more than 10 minutes. But with spring on the way, I set about priming and spray painting the trolley in my front garden in the glorious sunshine. A friend and neighbour passed by with her daughter and we discussed our love for upcycling and crafting. I showed them around the flat (my friend had only seen it in our first week and it was box city). It made me realise how much we've done in a year.

The hall is now painted a deep, luxuriant navy with Jo's record decks in it on a custom table made from scaffold boards, the living room is light grey with lots of pictures up, and upcycled wine boxes from Vino Vero on the walls as floating bookshelves (Pinterest steal). We have about 10 houseplants, my lovely green guys, who I haul into the bath each week and who I adore and am trying desperately to nurture. We had our fitted wardrobes taken out and lovely, light new ones put in. We even have a coat hook made out of Jo's childhood Tony Hawk skateboard (another Pinterest steal). My Dad has been instrumental in so much of this: in fact consider this my public thank you to all of our parents for their various shelf-putting-up, mouse-catching, garden-assisting and general amazing maintenance in our first 12 months here.

When you're not rolling in cash, there's an ever-growing list of things to update in a home; a whole Pinterest board of wishlist items to copy that we're desperate to sort. But picking things off the list one at a time and ticking them off payday by payday is so satisfying. Don't get me wrong: there's still a ton of things to sort. We want new floors! We want the bathroom done! A new blind in our Miami-themed dining room where there will (eventually) be palm-print wallpaper! More stuff in the garden! All these things take time and money and we have to find patience in doing things s l o w l y.

But for now, it's great to look back on almost a year and see what we have achieved. And the crocuses? They were a beautiful, cheering bonus to find peeping up in our garden. Even if you don't have a garden, there's so much joy in a bunch of cheap daffodils, sherbet flying saucer-coloured tulips, sweet-smelling stocks. This time of year feels hopeful as the days have more light, the colours start to break through, and the gardens awake from their wintry slumber. To spring! *raises Great Gatsby glass, clinks*

To read all of Ray's previous blogs, please clicl here 


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