The one downside to growing all the plants I need for the book I’m writing is not being able to go away for any reasonable length of time. Dreams of a week away will have to be put on hold this year. I have been known in the past to take seedlings and young plants on holiday with me rather than leave them to fend for themselves but the volumes I’m growing this year would mean hiring a van just for the plants. A mobile greenhouse, now there’s a thought.
Last week we did manage to squeeze in a few days in Cornwall and whilst winter still had its grip on most of the country we escaped to the one place untouched by snow and frost. I could go on and on about why Cornwall is such an amazing place. Whether it’s the quality of the light, the stunning beaches or the rugged coastline they are all great reasons to spend some time there but it’s the milder climate and longer growing season that tempts me to live there permanently. Despite the ear-aching cold wind I was surprised at just how many plants were flowering. At home my garden was slowing clawing its way into spring. In the narrow, sheltered streets of Padstow it was hard to tell what season it was going by the plants in flower. There was lavender and scented narcissi, ceanothus and primroses. So close to the warming influence of the water, frost and snow are rare occurrences in the county, and in the tiny villages which hug the cliffs running down to the sea the extra shelter provides an enviable micro-climate. The red valerian in one garden looked like it hadn’t stopped flowering since last year.
There is one flower, perhaps more than any other that is connected to Cornwall and that is the daffodil. For centuries farmers have grown them as a crop both for cut flowers and bulbs, the milder climate allowing them to pick flowers from October right through to the end of March. I’ve always wanted to see daffodils grown on such a scale but have never visited Cornwall at this time of year before. Then coming back from a visit to Falmouth we saw fields of gold in front of us. At first I instinctively thought it was rapeseed until I realised what it actually was. I was pointing excitedly and saying ‘We’ve got to stop’. I realise that sounds a bit odd, it was only a field of daffodils after all. Finding a place to stop so I could get some photos I opened the car door to be completely surprised by the smell. Although on the side of the road furthest from the field the scent of so many daffodils drifted across to me. After all those years of thinking about how the scene would look I’d never given any thought to the fact that it would smell so amazing and I wasn’t even that close. I love it when that happens. You come across or experience something you’ve thought about for a long time and not only does it meet your expectations it exceeds them.
It was good to get a few days rest, walk on the beach and breathe in the sea air but the general aim of going away was to come back feeling re-energised and raring to go. Unfortunately the bug I picked up on the last day had other ideas. I’m blaming a dodgy mussel. I’ll spare you the details but it may be a long time before I can face seafood again.