Sunday, January 17, 2010

New shoots, new thoughts

Every now and again, in a British winter, a day dawns mild, bright and benevolent. It lures you outside with promises of spring and new growth. You sniff the air, and almost believe it.
Today was a day like that.
For the first time in what seems like months I've been in the garden. (Hey, for the first time in weeks, I've been outside voluntarily!) It's good to have these respites. It's a chance to refill the bird feeders without getting soaked to the skin, a chance to rip out pelargoniums that have turned to mush, and cut back the phormium leaves that collapsed under the weight of snow.
The garden may momentarily look spring-like but everything is absolutely soaking - so saturated that it's amazing the plants don't float away. Even the pots of sempervivums, with their free-draining compost that is half grit, yield a flow of icy water if you tip them up.
You tell yourself that you're not going to fall for the con, that there will be more snow, more ice, more frost before we're through. But then, as you idly pull away a bit of snow-slushed foliage here or a tangle of stark brown stems there, you find real signs of spring.

Daffodil shoots are poking their green noses up through the soil as if to say: "Whassup?". The new, bright green leaves of Aquilegia 'Purple Emperor' look fragile and frivolous, like the swimwear displays that are coming into the stores.

It reminds me that I haven't got any snowdrops. In previous gardens, I'd always been more successful planting them in the green - ie, right now - so I ought to hunt some down. Two bedraggled polyanthus look as if they would like some company, so that goes on the shopping list too.
Then your thoughts turn to more ambitious projects. How about some low wooden benches for the firepit area to replace those plastic ones from Ikea? How about a new shed! What about cutting the lawn into intersecting circles?!
Calm down, you tell yourself. It will be raining again tomorrow. But hold that thought...