I was weeding the garden yesterday – or rather, pulling out the self-sown nigella, phacelia and echscholzia which colonises it at this time of year and smothers everything else – and pulled aside a particularly thick cover of seedlings to find…. a crocus, in full flower.
Today I was in a client’s garden where her Iris sibirica has just started flowering.
It’s October. These are early spring flowers. I cannot say how unutterably depressing I find it to have the seasons spoiled like this. To say nothing of how frightening it is to see how advanced global warming is – and how much it’s confusing natural life.
How is it that nobody is worried about this yet? It’s too late already, yet here in the UK everyone just makes jokes and says how much they’re looking forward to living in the Loire.
I don’t feel like that about it at all. I love the English seasons – the pinch in the air on a crisp autumn day with the leaves reddening and crunching underfoot; the sparkle of a snowdrop above the snow in January as you can just dare to hope another gardening year might begin soon; the glory of a garden full of spring bulbs in March.
The parched look of the earth this summer in the middle of the worst drought for decades was warning enough, wasn’t it? Everyone I know lost at least one favourite plant (mine was a glorious Helianthus “Lemon Queen” – I’ve been mourning it ever since). I spent this morning repairing the damage in a client’s formerly packed perennial bed – the client was ill this summer (before I began working in her garden) and couldn’t water it, and less than 10% has survived.
Yes, we can plant drought-tolerant Mediterranean plants, and yes, we can enjoy the frost-tender exotics we formerly couldn’t grow. But what of flame-red, moisture-loving lobelias, water-hungry but jewel-like trollius, or even more traditional stalwarts like phlox and roses? If this goes on much longer, we’re looking at the disappearance of these gorgeous plants from our borders altogether.
English gardens will be the poorer for it. And no amount of cannas, banana trees or English vineyards can make up for their loss.