Thursday, 20 January 2011

Brightening up considerably.

A little ray of sunshine.
Viola 'Jester Mix' under box
Sunshine! Not warm sunshine, but sunshine nevertheless. When I got home on Tuesday my face was tingling from the UV. It made the small amounts of colour on show in the displays sing out but sadly it didn't help my chilblains.
I got some rose pruning done during the short mild spell because when you are standing still, snipping away and tying stems in with ungloved fingers you can get deeply cold.
On Tuesday, when the clear skies made the temperature drop sharply I was foolishly still up my ladder and beginning to lose the will to live (or certainly to garden) when Lynne came to my rescue with a cup of coffee which thawed me enough to finish tying in Climbing Lady Hillingdon around the staff room door. Little acts of kindness like that can make your day.

Relaxed working conditions
One advantage of working by myself most of the time is that I can change my activities at the last minute to suit the weather. If it is raining I try to work in the greenhouse at least for the morning so that I'm not soggy all day, if it is freezing I can also retreat to a certain extent. I still haven't finished my seed orders so if there is no thaw today I shall go into the pottery where the kilns and the chat will warm me up. Visitors to the pottery often remark on the friendly atmosphere here - I think this is mainly due to the humorous, easy-going collection of people we have. As in any work place there are grumbles here and there but generally we get along pretty well and I think it shows - especially when the windows are open in the summer and Hilary's infectious laugh drifts for miles across the countryside.

Carex and pansies in a small Salamander pot

At breaktime even in freezing weather the makers are to be found clustered like hibernating ladybirds in these patches of sun - it is a bit dark in the pottery, partly because of the clay spattered on the windows, so they have to keep their vitamin D levels up somehow.

Detailed analysis
Detail on a Jim's Tom

As soon as the low winter sunshine hits the garden you begin to appreciate the small details both in plant material and on the pots. Intricate veining and cold-induced red flushes on leaves suddenly become more noticeable, as do the decorative details on the pots. The courtyard garden is on the northern side of the main pottery building, so in the depths of winter a direct ray of sunshine is a rare treat but now the days are lengthening and the sun getting higher in the sky new things are being illuminated every day.

Scratting about in the garden
Pushing her luck
The birds appreciate it too: Dominique's hens have been venturing out to help me when I'm "scratting about" (as Babs puts it). I won't be quite so welcoming to the hens once there are fragile flowers about. Luckily these birds are easy to catch and remove; we used to have a cockerel which would devastate  the garden given half a chance and ran about hysterically when he saw me coming to take him away. He fattened a fox a while ago and I bet he didn't go quietly.

Mrs B shadowing me on Tuesday

Mrs B is fine and has also been taking part in the scratting. I'm grateful for this help because I'm sure the bird life is instrumental in keeping the vine weevil population down.

Lonicera fragrantissima
Quel est cet odeur ...
So as I move round the garden I follow the sun as much as possible, glad of the little warmth it gives. That warmth is enough to release the fragrance of the large Lonicera fragrantissima in the corner and after Jim takes a sprig of it into his studio I am asked by several people where the lovely smell comes from - hard to believe it is that large, ungainly shrub but that gorgeous perfume is the only reason I tolerate its sprawling, untidy presence in the border. A little untidiness isn't a bad thing in a garden - that's my excuse anyway.

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