But we don’t. We are hurt and shocked by the cold as if February has never been cold before. We’ve become armchair meteorologists, tracking yellow warnings, discussing the jet stream, and complaining. Outside, spring is creeping in.
Then there is an ‘Oh look, a crocus’ moment, followed by scrabbling around google or gardening books to check out what to do about the garden.
The list of Things to Do, and Not Do, goes like this.
Resist the Urge to Mow
Yes, your brain needs tidying, and putting stripes on grass is one way to do it. Of course, you can only relax when all blades of grass are the same length for no reason. ‘Mow at Haste, Repent at Leisure’ they say. Stay Away from the Mower. Grass needs to sink strong roots in winter so leave it alone.
Let those tufts be.
Move Trees That are in the Wrong Place
We talk a lot about tree planting, but trees can plant themselves and will set up an entire forest if they get a chance. They will try it on anywhere but rarely think it through properly.
In 100 years this walnut tree will be 60 metres tall with a root span of 180 metres and it has decided to start right next to the house. Idiot.
A selfish bay tree with plans to take down the neighbour’s fence.
Most trees are still sleeping in February so move them now, before they wake up and notice what you are doing.
Decide to Become self Sufficient for ever
It is easy to get going on this, especially now when nothing is growing. ‘This year’, you say to yourself, ‘the beans will stay in straight rows and the tomatoes will get pricked out’. So you tidy up the pots to prove that you mean it.
Yes, a brighter tomorrow is possible.
Find Seeds and Plant the Lot
Discovering the miracle of last year’s beans. There are hundreds of beans in these pods.
Cover the kitchen in seed trays forgetting that old equation. 1 minute planting seeds = 2 hours planting them out, 20 hours weeding, 40 hours watering, 10 hours harvesting, 1 hour eating, 10 hours trying to give stuff away to other people who grew the same things, 20 hours pickling, 1 hour eating pickle, 5 hours throwing away rotten pickle and washing pickle jars.
Look in the Freezer
Discover the rest of the 2020 harvest. Slimy passata makes a fine minestrone, frosty chopped apples can go out for the birds, and beans that froze and stuck together make excellent compost.
Think Realistically about Productive Livestock
Count the chickens and find there are only two left. There has been one egg in two months. Consider options: Will more chickens mean more eggs? Who would milk a goat or a cow? Is there room for a lamb or a pig? Who would eat them? Start thinking fondly about guinea pigs.
Talk to the Cats
While you weren’t looking a thousand local cats have moved in. The moment a piece of soil is raked, the cats are at it. Time to sit down and have a discussion about who lives where. Resist the urge to buy water pistols, or better still, air pistols.
Find out that your cats are already talking to the neighbour’s cat. Consider getting a dog, realise that £2,000 won’t even buy a small dachshund these days. Give up on training cats.
Be Very Glad it is Still There.
The last time sitting outside was by a ‘we can still be out here all winter can’t we?’ fire in the autumn. After a few months locked inside, the garden is waiting and ready. Be happy about that.
Look at the Crocuses and think about Ancestors. Plant Some More
The crocuses here were planted by ancestors. When they flower it is as if the ancestor is saying ‘look at these, remember me?’
Go and plant a crocus now and tell a child you did it for all the tomorrows. They will remember you when they see that crocus. With a crocus, planting for tomorrow ends up with reaching back into the past. It’s a Back to the Future flower.
This is a fine example of an ancestor. I found her lurking in the photo cupboard.
Will there be a brighter tomorrow?
We are all hoping for a brighter tomorrow. Surge testing popping up everywhere, variants racing vaccines, vaccine centres opening and closing all over the place, wondering who gets Pfizer and who gets Oxford, and why? Never mind, next week Boris is announcing a ‘Roadmap’.
Roadmaps are always interesting. For some reason, I have a Motorway Atlas of Britain from 1975. Look how few motorways we had half a century ago.
All the dotted lines are the ones that were not built. Maybe they were all gardens then.