Well, it’s over for another year. The geese have laid, the ladies danced and the five gold rings have…done whatever it is they do. Yes the festive season is behind us and it’s a brand new year full of possibilities, expectations and meticulously planned out garden endeavours. Of course there shouldn’t be much to do right now, slap bang in the middle of winter as we are, but we can all snuggle up with our seed catalogues and wait for the first buds of spring, right?
Of course, I’ve been wrong before. This year is turning out to be a little stranger than normal for the garden thus far. For example, usually when you look out on a crisp Christmas morning you expect to see a garden covered in, if not snow, then a layer of frost, maybe with some snow drops bursting through or the buds appearing on the witch hazels. The garden should be gleaming in the dawn light with a pale, almost ethereal quality, then the cold reaches you and gives you the perfect excuse to go and make a giant hot chocolate and have one of the last mince pies for breakfast. That is what Christmas morning is supposed to be. Not this year though, which began with me rushing downstairs to turn the heating down. No frosty lawn, no beckoning duvet, just persistent gloom broken occasionally by drizzle – in some cases, torrential drizzle. Now I’m not saying the weather ruined Christmas or anything, my family is nothing if not adaptable, plus it would seem petty of me to complain when our readers in more northerly climes are rowing to work through the floods (I do hope you’re all alright and hopefully no lasting damage has been done). Still, am I the only one who thinks the weather this Christmas could be described as simply weird?
Silly question really since I have been sweeping up the last of the autumn leaves (I’ve been busy alright) with a hornbeam sprouting spring buds above my head. But that is not all, our lawn has had to be mowed twice over Christmas, going crazy with all the rain and mild weather. Then came the spring bulbs just about a week ago, with daffodils in full flower – and no they are not early flowering varieties. Then came the really weird stuff; there are still roses flowering that really should be thinking of tucking themselves up for the season and even a summer flowering Genista (flowering period around July) is rearing its head and welcoming the sunny weather of early January! Frankly as things stand I’m expecting a downpour of herring any day now. In all seriousness though, this unseasonable weather may well prove to be more of a problem than one might imagine. Discounting flash floods and the like, which clearly take the top spot when it comes to gardening disasters, an unnaturally warm winter can throw the entire garden and therefore the local ecosystem out of whack. If we can have spring bulbs appearing at the same time as summer plants and both happening in midwinter then a lot of those plants will be competing with hitherto unknown rivals, wasting growing energy during the shorter days and generally making their way toward a poor growing year. Not a terribly cheery thought, though I do take solace in the knowledge that nature always seems to find a way. Honestly I don’t know what is going on or even if there is anything I can do to help get my garden back into a proper equilibrium if the weather keeps going as it has, but just in case I think I’ll do a bit of extra recycling this year and see if that helps.