My heart goes out to all gardeners whose little piece of Paradise has been subsumed by snow, lashed by rain and/or furtled by frost. When we were considering a move to this town, Attila promised me that this was an area that didn’t freeze. I made a big show of believing him, although we both knew that he was telling porkpies. The house we left behind was situated in the middle of the country and went down to minus twelve degrees Celsius every winter, so by comparison this place is positively tropical. Wherever you live, there is a little time left to nip outside when it’s icy, to check where the pockets of rime lie. These are the places where you shouldn’t be planting anything which is not entirely hardy, for over wintering. January 19th tends to be the coldest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, so we should be past the worst. I’m sure that you trust my word.
Pear, cherry & cloudless sky
Spring travels up through England at a walking pace. If your snowdrops are blooming in the south and you set out on foot, by the time that you reach my door I will have found the kettle for tea, bought some biscuits and my own plot will be sprinkled with nodding white charmers, gleaming fiercely amongst the dead leaves and all too lively weeds. Every week that goes by gives us an extra fifteen minutes of light per day. Notice that I didn’t say sunshine; let’s not wish for miracles, please. I’m typing this in a bright room, not a cloud visible from my window. This is subject to change without a moment’s notice. I feel some sympathy for the meteorologists who are supposed to make sensible predictions based on science, that we all deem accurate. I tend to take their pronouncements with a large pinch of salt. If it’s not raining now, it will be later.
Armillary & frost
I think that we have some of the most beautiful skies in the world. Some of our artists have made a career of painting tempests, lightning and atmospheric fog. We are good at breathtaking rainbows. Crepuscular light beams over the rolling hills like an advert on a cereal packet. In my opinion, it is the weather that puts the great into Great Britain. We’re a doughty lot, given to pulling on swim suits and splashing about in storm rocked seas that turn our legs purple with cold and rob our fingers of all feeling. In the past I have dragged my family out for picnics in hurricane strength wind and horizontal rain, insisting that if the crisps were waterlogged, they make the crunching noise for them. I got married in a force nine gale, my big dress inflated by the squall, amid guests who clutched at hats, skirts, hairpieces and structural supports.
Sunshine & tulips to come
After a season of lowering skies, lazy winds and torrential rain, I am stir crazy and maddened by cabin fever. I ache to get outdoors, trowel in hand, secateurs at my hip, muck bucket cunningly placed for a comedy trip and prat fall for the amusement of all. I’ll be so happy to be busy in the open air, I may even be laughing myself.