I’m grumpy. I am sat here at my desk writing, with the rain and wind lashing against the window, wondering if this weather will ever stop. I can’t remember the last time I saw sunshine. It has been the wettest January for a hundred years in parts of the south. No mention of how Wales has fared yet but if someone tries to tell me there has been a wetter January …. well it just can’t be possible. A simple 5 minute walk to the post office or to pick some vegetables from the plot requires head to toe waterproofing and I am sick of looking like a trawlerman every time I need to leave the house. I’m even fed up of having to wear my beloved wellies. I’m not just grumpy with the weather I’m grumpy with myself for constantly banging on about the weather. As I commented to Flighty the other day, I’ve started to bore myself.
Back in the autumn I planted up a variety of bulbs for indoors. The narcissi, hippeastrum and hyacinths have all been and gone now but I planted up some crocus too. I love crocuses and their cheery flowers but hate the fact that they seem so easily damaged by the weather. I have found the best compromise is to fill some small clay pots with bulbs, put these in the greenhouse and when there are signs of greenery bring them indoors. They flower a little earlier with the extra protection, last so much longer,and I get to enjoy their flowers from the warmth of my kitchen. Well, that is if you get to them before the slugs do. Slugs in January, now that just made me even grumpier. The distinctive silvery trail ran across the top of the pots and the crocus stumps they had left behind. I’ve also discovered this odd phenomenon where some of the petals seem to have not developed properly but the distinctive orange stamens have poked out. It makes them look like mini versions of Beaker from the Muppets. Has anyone noticed this before? It doesn’t look as if I can attribute the blame for this to the slugs. Fortunately, some of the pots were untouched and I now have the flowers of Crocus ‘Cream Beauty’ appearing unscathed, so all is not lost and it looks like ‘Snow Bunting’ and some of the ‘Barr’s Purple’ have survived too. A couple of crocus in the garden have reared their heads but they really shouldn’t have bothered as they look forlorn and mud splattered at the moment.
The real delight of bringing plants like crocuses indoors is that you get to look at them close up. It’s hard to get close to something that might only be 10cm tall when it’s growing in the garden. In a pot on my window sill I can see the delicate markings on the petals but best of all I have discovered that crocus have a scent. You need to get right into the flower to catch a whiff of the perfume but it’s worth it. It isn’t a scent which permeates a room, which is a pity, but every time I pass by, I stop to have a sniff, and it’s enough to lift the spirits.
Some plants in the garden haven’t escaped winter slug damage. The flowers of snowdrops have been nibbled too, as have some primroses. It all makes me wonder about climate change and gardening. In 2012, we had no summer to speak of. Instead we had grey skies, cold days and lots of rain. Last year we had no real spring with cold days lingering on well into June. I remember vividly that first week in July felt as if we went from winter to summer. My memory of this is so good because I needed an extension on the deadline for my photographs for the book I was writing. It’s hard to conjure up summer when you haven’t had one yet. And, so far, we are yet to have a winter. No real frost, no snow and interminable amounts of rain. I’m wondering what 2014 and beyond are going to bring. Will we ever get to garden this year or should we start to farm cranberries?
As well as the appearance of the crocuses something else which managed to lighten my mood was the arrival of an advance copy of my book. A small number of books arrived just after Christmas, ready to go out as review copies to newspapers and magazines. The rest will arrive in the coming weeks, closer to the date of publication. I knew the book was on the way, so when I saw a parcel in the postman’s hand and the label of my publisher on the envelope I got a little excited. I know it might seem a little odd that I sound surprised I got excited about it, but I am. I have seen the images and text so much over the course of the last year that I feel like I know them inside out, so I did wonder whether it would be a bit of a let down when the book finally arrived. I’m pleased to say that wasn’t the case, and to see it all together, as a finished product, did make me grin in a slightly inane manner for quite a while. Wellyman, bless him is actually reading the book, even though he must feel like he knows it all inside out too.
It’s been quite cathartic to write about my grumpiness but I can’t put off the inevitable any longer. I have kale to pick and it appears to still be raining so where are those waterproofs…..