There's a lot going on in the kitchen at the moment. The sweet peas have germinated; the nasturtiums and sunflowers are reaching towards the light and we have herbs in pots like this coriander (one of my favourites).
There's parsley too. The herbs are the 'living' ones you can buy (as opposed to those already cut and bunched).
The geranium needs to have cuttings taken. It came from a family friend's nursery and he said to just throw them out each year and start again, but geraniums are easy to grow and I can't bring myself to throw a happy plant into the compost. Anyway, more about him and his nursery later.
I didn't get around to planting hyacinth bulbs in bulb jars this year so cheated and bought some ready-planted ones. I'm always torn between blue or white but opted for white.
So the family friend - Pete - has a big nursery in Wilmslow. He specialises in hanging baskets and grows lots of bedding plants and annuals in what seems like huge greenhouse after huge greenhouse.
Each year we go there (usually in May, after the danger of frosts have passed) and he loads the car with whatever we like. For free. This year I'll be baking him a cake to say thankyou.
We get all kinds of plants and wander up and down choosing what we'd like. I'm not a huge fan of bedding plants but there's quite a selection - some are weird and wonderful. And it's the kind of place I'd be happy working in - it's very serene. The radio's on in the background and you can just sit there, completely absorbed in planting out the baskets.
There's a farm next door selling organic produce. The nursery also has outbuildings housing vintage tractors and cars. One building's been converted into a tiny pub for the workers, complete with dartboard and TV. There are chickens roaming around. And a wily fox. Since he's been around the chickens have reduced in number...
But we still get a box of eggs to take home. And we always have a look at what's being renovated tractor-wise.
Pete usually has some vegetables growing too - we've taken little courgette plants, pumpkins, peas... and maize (it was only ornamental though). The pumpkin went a bit crazy. In a good way.
Last year it was really warm and sunny when we visited. We sat out and passed the time of day then sweltered in the car all the way home with the plants - it felt like we were in a mobile greenhouse.
Joe's going to love visiting when he's a bit older. He can have a sit on a tractor and a ride around on one of the wooden trolleys. And no doubt get very grubby. Pete always insists we fill the car to the brim so I suspect this year Joe will be lost in greenery.
Our visit feels like a calendar event heralding the start of summer. And with the spring nowhere in sight that's a very welcome thought.