I love this time of year - all the hard work at year end, to clear back the dead perennials, has been done, and we can see the skeleton of the garden: the shapes of the shrubs, the unexpected views, the strange uneven gaps... it's an interesting time of year, and a time when it's a good idea to take photos to remind yourself, later on, where those gaps were.
It's also about the time we start to see the bulbs coming up: I love the first daffodil sprouts of spring, and I already have some Eranthis hyamelis (Winter aconite but not poisonous) showing their pretty yellow faces to the sun. Not to forget the faithful snowdrops, of course, although I have to say that none of mine are flowering yet, but the Leucojum aestivum (Summer Snowflake, like a snowdrop on steroids) are already out, which is a bit odd.
This leads to an inelegant tip-toe style of gardening where you try to place your feet in such a way that you are not actually crushing the new shoots of bulbs etc, but without losing your balance and falling flat on your face, thus crushing a rather more substantial portion of the flower bed.
I think it was Helen Yemm who coined the phrase, I might be wrong.
There is never a "right" or a "wrong" time to take on a new garden, but personally I do like to meet a garden in late spring when the bulbs are already up, so I can see where they are before I start any digging or replanting. There's not much worse than carefully deciding, in mid-summer, on just exactly the right place for a precious new plant, digging the hole for it: and discovering forkfuls of bulbs. Ok, thinking about it, discovering these bulbs by finding them impaled on the prongs of your fork, that's definitely worse.
So this week, and for the next few weeks, I am definitely doing the Boot and Shoot ballet!