Archive for March, 2010


Old Man Winter always has the last word when it comes to the changing seasons but even he must concede eventually to the youthful conspiricies of Spring. Despite the chilly wind, walking through the garden, the evidence is plain to see: the first flower here, a protruding shoot there, a sudden burst of sunshine to gladden the heart. Change is on its way.

In our childhood we gasped breathlessly at the first sign perhaps of  a dog or horse, and that sense of excitement has never quite left us as we look out for the first primrose, or celandine, or crimson larch flower, the trusted harbingers that reassure us we have survived yet another winter. Beware of impatient imprudence though: the weather still chastens those foolish enough to venture forth without a coat. In the same way, the thatch on a hardy geranium or the blackened top leaves of the pulmonaria are just begging to be pulled off to reveal the fresh new growth beneath but who can promise me that there will be no more harsh frosts?

One ponders also whether it is warm enough to grow seed outside without the cosseting of a cloche. In byegone days, the gardener’s wife was alleged to have bared her bottom and sat on the vegetable patch to determine the temperature – not an image to juggle with – but perhaps a puritan’s elbow rested on the soil would suffice. Easier still is to observe whether or not the weed seeds in the beds are germinating yet. When they begin to sprout then we can confidently reach for our treasured seed packets.

Throughout the district the ceanothus, cistus and rosemary have all been hit hard by the deep frosts and drying winds and they look a sorry sight indeed.

A rabbit passes by, dull in spirit and blind with myxomatosis, and sadly it is just a matter of time before the dogs or the fox find him.

A spate of rain passes through but who can grumble, the weather has been dry of late and it will refresh the garden no end.


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The woodland area is awash with snowdrops. One has to admire their tenacity in poking their heads above ground in this weather. Their history is often debated in horticultural circles: some say  they were a gift from the Romans or perhaps  brought back from the Crusades or possibly introduced in the sixteenth century by Benedictine nuns or maybe they are a native wild flower, who can tell, but we gardeners like to argue with each other as much as the next man. Certainly they have religious connotations and their white flowers are a symbol of purity and innocence, being gathered for Candlemas on the second of February.

 The Duchess has taken it into her head that she wants some snowdrops to be grown next to the clump of Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ that dwell by the back door porch – she’s evidently been reading those gardening magazines again – and it’s true that the white of the snowdrop shine out against the black strap leaves of the Ophiopogon. Moving the snowdrop is as easy as pie: a clump is dug up whilst still in flower and planted where it’s needed and it will romp away quite happily with no resentments provided that the porch will provide it with an ounce of shade in the heat of the summer.

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