Helleborus orientalis

Above: Helleborus orientalis 'Harvington White'

Garden diary: February

23 March 2008 - Easter snow

It's a scene that would be perfect for a Christmas Day morning. Pulling up the blinds, we see snow over the rooftops and gardens, and, from a first-floor window, in one of the gardens below, neighbours building a snowman. Father and son are forming a huge lump of solidified snow (that had taken some time to build - they'd obviously been earlier risers than us) into a huge round snowman body.

It isn't Christmas day though - it's Easter Sunday.

We woke to snow, proper snow, and though it thawed early, those who were up earlier than us had the satisfaction of making a snowman. Watching them, I remembered, as anyone who has made a snowman will no doubt remember too, how bits of mud and squashed grass blades inevitably find their way in. We're always aiming for a purely white perfect snowman (or snowperson, perhaps) that looks like a snowman does when illustrated in a book. Our efforts never quite get there, but no matter.

I don't know if my neighbours put a carrot in for the nose, as was the tradition - (and I doubt they put coal for the eyes - now we don't have lumps of coal lying around like we did in the old days) - I couldn't tell as the snowman had his back to our window. But it was good to see a snowman being created - even though it was Easter Sunday, and perhaps it would be preferable to be out picking daffodils.

The weather has been strange and surprising these last few days, and though the Easter weekend is traditionally a time when we English gardeners venture out into our gardens and do energetic things in our flower borders, I doubt anyone round here has done more than look at it all out of the window, as I've been doing.

The winds have been vicious, and accompanied by hail, snow and rain, often appearing to come to earth horizontally, due to the force of the winds.

I moved some of the more susceptible things into shelter, so I thought, nearer the walls of the house, but that wasn't enough. One frighteningly powerful gust that appeared to come out of nowhere blew over a potted Fatsia japonica onto another plant with a long and complex name I can't recall just now - its name seeming unimportant in the circumstances.

It might be adequate to call it "that dead plant that got destroyed at Easter", and forget the botanical name.

I moved the potted hyacinths that are in flower nearer the back door, and thought about "battening down the hatches" - one of those phrases that weather forecasters use and that makes no sense really, but suggests we should do something even if we're not sure what it is. I felt vaguely anxious and looked to see if we had any hatches, or indeed any battens for securing the aforementioned.

Despite all this there are buds on the tree branches and small leaves on the shrubs, and it's all waiting for the right time. It all looks a bit pinched and struggling still, but it always does in March. There are signs though, and the birds are programmed to know them, and are chatting to one another, all flirty and come-hither, with trembling wings.

Back to March highlights



Above: Narcissus

Garden diary: April