Friday, 28 February 2014

Winter’s end

The sun is playing hide and seek. Magnolia peeping, cherry blossom beginning to froth the boughs. It is, after all, the last day of February, a milestone marking in my mental calendar the end of the hivernal trimester. In reality, the seasons are hardly so orderly, and signs of spring have for weeks been coexisting with a mild but stormy winter. March is a time of bitter winds – oddly, rather than images of windswept rural landscapes, the arrival of that month conjures memories of walking up Bishopsgate, hunkered down in scarf and coat against icy blasts seemingly intent on keeping me from the office. Perhaps the wind was trying to tell me something – turn around, get back on the train; leave the city behind, pull on your boots and get out in the open where you belong. I’ll be no kinder to you when you’re surrounded by trees and standing on soil instead of stone, but you may feel the benefit of a warmth of a different kind. An inner warmth that comes from knowing you’re where you belong. Odd, for a London-bred lad. But a few months later I had taken a part time job closer to home allowing me to volunteer with the garden team at Scotney Castle while studying horticulture at the local college.

So, we have March winds to look forward to, and the long range forecast is talking of colder conditions arriving in the south east – there is plenty of time yet for frost to nip off the over eager shoot or bud. But the earth needs a spell of freezing, and the cold temperatures are essential for controlling the less desirable elements of our local ecosystem, including a host of plant pests and pathogens. The arrival of frost also suggests clearer skies and brighter, drier conditions. Coupled with the steadily increasing daylight, I think that can only be a paticularly good thing.