willow tree living garden hearts
A living heart within a willow tree

Out and about with my camera, I sometimes spot strange shapes. Not that I am specifically looking; they fall into view, and then I start searching. It may be that branches frame a part of the garden, or the juxtaposition of tree-trunks offer me a shot that can be used for the cards and books I make. As here, walking along the banks of the River Teme on the Shropshire/Welsh border, I ‘found’ two garden hearts. These will be perfect for the book I am making for a garden-art exhibition to be held in the area this summer.

heart hand Valentine's Day gift
Heart in my hand becomes a Valentine’s Day gift

And once you start looking, hearts are everywhere! Truly I wasn’t searching but this stone caught my eye by the swift-flowing water and I gave it to my beloved. He was somewhat bemused, and had he been of a more romantic nature, I would have added ribbons and tiny wild-flowers. Now actually, the removal of stones from private property or publically owned land is illegal, but is a grey area from beaches – so don’t think I am advocating building a rockery from beach hoards, or surfacing your planter with pebbles.

Heartfelt Valentine’s Day Thoughts:

winter vegetables create warming soup
Stored winter vegetables create a magnificent warming soup

Instead I think of the way to my man’s heart and specifically what he might like to eat for a celebratory Valentine’s Day lunch or supper. On a cold winter’s day, nothing could be more welcome than a dish of hot soup. Check your stored vegetables and make a warming chunky version from whatever you have available – onions, garlic, leeks, carrots, swede and potato, or any combination. If you prefer something smooth and velvety, liquidise once the veg are cooked and cooled, then reheat with a dash of cream and a sprinkling of parsley. Serve with homemade bread or crispy croutons, for which you can use a stale loaf if need-be.

Winter flowers joy Valentine's Day celebrations
Winter flowers bring joy to Valentine’s Day celebrations

On the table will be flowers from the shrubbery: evergreen Viburnum tinus and deciduous Viburnum fragrans – both in flower now, as they have been all winter, plus a couple of blooms from my Iceberg rose which never seems to stop flowering, the soft blue five-petalled stars of an early Periwinkle major, chartreuse-green hanging bells of Helleborus foetidus, and the vanilla-scented Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans). Beautiful, but beware – it’s a highly invasive thug but smells divine.

Back to the Garden:

Perpetual flowering roses summer garden colour
Perpetual flowering shrub roses add colour to a summer garden

And so, whilst thinking of hearts and Valentine’s Day, I wonder what might be an appropriate gift for a garden-lover. Not the inevitable chocolate, but maybe a plant or two. How about shrub roses that will last for years and clothe a bank with blooms?

Muscat grapes greenhouse conservatory
Muscat grapes will do well in a greenhouse or conservatory

Or a vine that could be planted in conservatory or greenhouse? Try the black-fruited ‘Boskoop Glory’ or Muscat-flavoured white ‘Phoenix’, the fruit of which can be eaten fresh or made into wine. My greenhouse vine show above dates back years, fruits readily and survived a catastrophic fire some years back when the greenhouse burned down! The vine survived and a new greenhouse was built around it.

Sharing your Valentine’s Day joys:

close-up image species crocus greetings cardSo how was your Valentine’s Day? A walk around your garden (weather and floods permitting); a meal at home with a loved one, feasting on home-grown produce; discussions on new beginnings once this winter of gardening despair leaves us? Or memories from a photo album that has been years in the making? Do share your joys with us – they may well inspire other readers way beyond this day of love. (And a very warm welcome to new readers, and to all those who formerly followed this Dobies of Devon Blog in its old guise.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.