Elegant narcissi shoots are joined now by fat-fingered daffodil stems and tulips. The first new growth of our gardening year, outside our bedroom window. There is a delicacy about growing in pots that maybe suits Henri more than me. More architectural discipline, too. Different sizes and textures of planting dotted through the roof terrace at the top of the house.
The sprawling Bengal Crimson is in bud. The other roses are asleep. A sign that concerns me is that so many geraniums are in flower. The 5ft salvia is showing last summer’s blues. I suspect it is London warming, but these are blooming strongly at 0C.
We sleep with the doors open to the terrace. Both former country kids. Woken by the call of the city gulls and crows. The chatter of starlings grouped on top of the priory steeple.
The terrace is Henri’s domain. My job is largely to carry the spring/summer trays and sacks of soil up to the top. Watering when she is busy or away.
From midwinter on, we scan bare pots for new signs of life. First to show: always the narcissi. The daffodils and assorted tulips later. All staggered by height and timing. Lasagne-style as they say.
The terrace was the decider when we first saw the flat. The luxury of outside space in the city. A small place to plant, to read a book or the Sunday papers, to sit in morning sun.
Next to show will be lily of the valley. Henri’s mother’s favourite. One of mine, too, in memory of Lilian. Then there’s muscari, blue grape hyacinth, a recent impulse buy. Sometime after Easter, we will head to the Camden Garden Centre, looking for something summery to entice us. Until then, we will watch the narcissi, tulips and daffodils grow. Our heralds of spring.
Now what are yours?
Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com