The Rift was going through a slow spell, so Ianto had decided to take the day off and get a few overdue chores done at home. Standing on the decking outside the French doors, he cast his gaze over the roof garden and smiled. In spite of the brisk, chilly breeze, on a day like this, with the sun shining overhead in a pale blue sky, he could already picture how their little oasis in the middle of the city would look once it was in full bloom.
Come summer, the raised beds, planters, and troughs would be overflowing with a riot of colourful bedding plants, vibrant annuals clustering around the existing perennials and shrubs. At present the latter were only just beginning to stir into new life, but that didn’t mean there was nothing to delight the eyes.
As the days grew longer and the weather gradually improved, spring was slowly getting underway and the bulbs he and Jack had planted back in the autumn were making their presence known. The snowdrops had already come and gone; now it was the turn of crocuses. Short spikes of foliage pushing through the bark mulch that had protected them from frost and snow throughout the winter on this exposed rooftop perfectly framed their purple, white, and golden yellow flowers, a few of which already showed signs of bird damage.
Soon the taller spikes of daffodils, with their fat green buds, would be showing off their full glory, hundreds of deep yellow and rich orange trumpets cupped by a frill of contrasting yellow petals, nodding in the balmy spring breezes. After all, you couldn’t have a garden in Wales without including the national flower!
There’d be creamy white and pale lemon narcissi too, with their shorter trumpets edged in pale peach, deep orange, and shades of pink, and bluebells, providing a pleasing contrast to the sunshine yellows. Knowing Jack, he could expect a host of tulips too, in every conceivable colour because it was impossible to persuade his husband to pick a colour scheme and stick with it. Then again, considering who the garden belonged to, a rainbow palette was entirely appropriate.
All of that was still to come, however. The daffodil and bluebell buds were swelling, but still tucked safely down among the leaves, protected from late frosts, so this was the ideal time to deal with some other less welcome plant life. Weed seeds that had remained dormant throughout the winter were sprouting in abundance; it would be better to deal with them now before they got too well established, and while the surrounding plants were still relatively small and easy to work between.
Taking his empty coffee mug back indoors and putting it in the dishwasher, Ianto donned wellies, gloves, and his scruffy denim gardening jacket before fetching the hoe from the garden shed and getting to work. Pulling larger weeds by hand and dropping them in his bucket to go on the compost heap, he carefully poked around among the plants, severing and uprooting countless tiny weedlings, leaving them to shrivel and die on the surface of the beds, where their nutrients would be returned to the soil.
Gardening warmed him even better than his earlier coffee had, and it wasn’t long before he had to shed his jacket, leaving it draped over the arm of the garden bench. Dealing with the weeds was only the first task on his list for the day; next, the two buddleias would need to be cut hard back, and the red stemmed dogwood thinned out. The espalier fruit trees would require a bit of judicious pruning, and the new fruiting spurs would have to be tied in, but it was probably a bit too soon for that.
The paths could be swept though, and the greenhouse made ready for the sewing of seeds, mainly fruit and vegetables but perhaps a few flowering plants too; French marigolds, petunias, delphiniums, maybe even asters and zinnias. They were less popular these days than they used to be, so the garden centres tended not to stock them, but they’d been among Ianto’s mam’s favourites. Planting the flowers she’d loved would be a good way of paying tribute to her. She’d been the one to instil in him a love of gardening.
It was hard work, but oddly relaxing too, and it gave Ianto a tremendous sense of satisfaction to see the difference he was making. When he’d stepped outside earlier, despite the new growth there’d been an un-cared for air over everything. By the time he was done in the late afternoon, having only stopped once for a quick lunch, the roof garden was almost unrecognisable, and he had several bags of prunings to go in the garden waste dustbin downstairs.
Ianto startled; he hadn’t heard Jack come in. “Thanks. I’ve been working at it most of the day.”
Jack grinned. “I meant you, but the garden looks great too.”
“Twpsyn!” Ianto accused fondly. He raked his gaze over the garden once more. “Won’t be long before we have a carpet of yellow and blue out here, with random highlights of other colours. I noticed quite a lot of tulips coming up; I hadn’t realised you’d planted so many.”
“I like tulips, there’s so much variety, from snow white all the way to purple so dark it’s almost black, and everything in between.”
“Knowing you, we’ve got the lot,” Ianto teased.
“I tried, but I might’ve missed a few shades. I should’ve kept a list of what I bought.”
Laughing, Ianto shook his head. “Well, there’s always next year.”
“That’s true. You know, we should get something bright and colourful for indoors too, have a bit of springtime on the kitchen windowsills. Hyacinths, maybe. They’re pretty and they smell nice.”
Ianto got a faraway look on his face as he imagined a row of cheerful, sweetly scented pink, purple, and white flowers in terracotta pots, adding an almost Mediterranean feel to the kitchen.
“I like that idea. Maybe the supermarket has some; we could go and see.”
“You want to go right now?”
“Why not? Just let me get cleaned up and changed. We can pick up something quick and easy for dinner while we’re at it, maybe a couple of bags of seed compost too.”
After a long winter, nothing was more cheering than spring flowers. Might as well get a few extras before everywhere sold out.