Gosh, but the April air is chilly here in Wenlock, even when the sun shines and distracts us. I gather it’s all the fault of the North Atlantic Oscillation which has dropped into negative zones and is drawing cold air from an unusually frigid Arctic. The weather people say there’s more cold air to come so it looks like spring, here in the northern hemisphere, might be late this year.
I took these photos from the kitchen door the other evening. As ever, the teasels up in the guerrilla garden continue to catch my eye, and I’m putting off cutting them down. At this time of year the garden-over-the-fence does not look promising. Very flat and wintered. But then it’s also just the moment to discourage some of the more tenacious weeds which are popping up there – couch grass and ground elder in particular. Except now the allotment plot is calling and that’s where all my effort is being deployed. So many compost heaps to turn over, and bins to turn out in hopes finding enough of something useful to spread on the raised beds.
Climbing peas and broad beans have been started off in pots, the onions and the first early Swift potatoes are in the ground, and it’s time to start clearing the polytunnel of winter greens to make space for the tomato and cucumber plants which are presently in the conservatory at home, along with trays of cabbage and cauli and perennial flower seedlings. They will all need hardening off, but not yet.
And there we have a problem. He-who-binds-books-in-winter-and-lives-in-my-house is now set on the outdoor pursuit of dismantling said conservatory (which though presently useful to this gardener, we both agree is hateful) and erecting in its place against our other back door, a lean-to greenhouse whose parts are presently lying in boxes in our sitting room.
It’s one of those projects that will be wonderful when done, but the getting there is fraught with many acts of plant juggling, issues of meteorological conflict and potential domestic unrest between gardener and demolition man. Prickly times ahead. I will keep you informed.
Bright Square #15
Fresh from the garden an hour ago, and more snow to come. Nor are we alone. Temperatures in the northern hemisphere, and especially parts of North America have been plunging to record lows due to a shift of the polar vortex, the icy wind system that usually spends winter over the Arctic. It’s even been snowing in the Algerian Sahara – the fourth time this has happened in 42 years. My computer tells me it’s zero degrees celsius here in the UK, positively tropical compared to Chicago’s –26C with an added wind-chill factor of –53C. Stay warm, everyone.
Square Up #24
Today, the 26th of November, we woke to the first autumn frost, though by the time I was dressed and out in the garden, it was melting fast. Not a cloud to be seen. There was a moment, too, when the sky was a perfect shade of lavender. Who knew it could do that in Much Wenlock! The last time I saw such as sky I was at Hunter’s Lodge in Makindu, Kenya. Nor was it only the atmosphere making earth magic. Over the fence in the guerrilla garden the crab apple tree was also emitting its own extraordinary radiance: each miniature apple aglow, if slightly tearful. In fact before posting the first photo I had to desaturate it a touch. Even so, it’s still a glow worth popping in your heart or head space to light up gloomy days.
This morning over the fence the guerrilla garden was all of a frenzy, the helianthus being whipped hither and thither as Storm Francis started to make his presence felt. The odd thing was the wind was warm, and it was rather marvellous to stand in it. Exhilarating even. Left one feeling well swept in the mentally cobwebbed department.
Now though in early evening we have lowering cloud banks over the Edge and intermittent lashings of rain. Francis is still blustering about but only with 40 mph gusts, or so the weather folks tell me. We’re lucky here in inland Shropshire. Out on the coast there have been 70+mph winds and much flooding and damage. It makes me wonder with all this year’s upset and turbulence: did some entity out in the universe open Pandora’s Box back in January?