In force nine gales and stinging, stair-rod rain, spare a thought for us garden professionals. Whilst greater mortals are enjoying the benefits of central heating, we battle the elements dressed in clothing once worn by a better class of bag lady, topped off by a very fetching bobble hat that could well once have been a tea cosy.
So why do we do it? Shh – it’s a secret! Didn’t you know? Spring is on its way! Have you ventured out there recently? You many be surprised by what little gems you may find out there if you take the time to look. Push aside a few fallen leaves and you will find creamy nodding snowdrops pushing through. Hellebore blooms will be starting to show: they seem to have caught the imagination of the plant breeders, and as a result there is a vast array of varieties, in all shades of purple, pink and white. And who can fail to be moved by the scent of winter-flowering honeysuckle on a crispy wintry day?
But we don’t just stand and stare, of course. Jobs of the moment are many and various: herbaceous perennials can be divided, enabling you to share your garden with your friends. Rub down and treat your wooden furniture to a lovely soaking of teak oil. Fallen leaves should be raked up and removed, particularly from grass and paved areas; they can become very slippery. If you haven’t done already, get your mower serviced – you don’t want to be without it when a warm, dry spell arrives and you wake up one morning to a field where your lawn used to be. If you are feeling particularly depressed, pot up some winter planters for your front door with some bright cyclamen and winter shrubs – they can be put out in the garden borders once they have served their purpose.
For me, the best thing about being a professional gardener at this time of year is coming back in from the cold to settle down in my warm home, my cheeks glowing, my fingers a little numb and my hair sporting a wholly accurate ‘dragged through a hedge backwards’ look. I make myself the obligatory cup of coffee served in a novelty gardener-themed mug someone thoughtfully gave me for Christmas, and start work on my new garden design ideas for the year. Castles in the air are nothing compared to gardens in the sunshine.
Pots and Pansies