‘No Enemy But Winter & Rough Weather…’
‘No enemy but winter and rough weather…’
Every year at this low ebb of the seasons, I go to Columbia Rd Market to buy potted bulbs and winter-flowering plants which I replant into my collection of old pots from the market and arrange upon the oak dresser, to observe their growth at close quarters and thereby gain solace and inspiration until my garden shows convincing signs of new life.
Each morning, I drag myself from bed – coughing and wheezing from winter chills – and stumble to the dresser in my pyjamas like one in a holy order paying due reverence to an altar. When the grey gloom of morning feels unremitting, the musky scent of hyacinth or the delicate fragrance of the cyclamen is a tonic to my system, tangible evidence that the season of green leaves and abundant flowers will return. When plant life is scarce, my flowers in pots that I bought for just a few pounds each at Columbia Rd acquire a magical allure for me, an enchanted quality confirmed by the speed of their growth in the warmth of the house, and I delight to have this collection of diverse varieties in dishes to wonder at, as if each one were a unique specimen from an exotic land.
And once they have flowered, I place these plants in a cold corner of the house until I can replant them in the garden. As a consequence, my clumps of Hellebores and Snowdrops are expanding every year and thus I get to enjoy my plants at least twice over – at first on the dresser and in subsequent years growing in my garden.
Staffordshire figure of Orlando from As You Like It