The primulas, I can understand. For all their delicate beauty, they are hardy little souls and are happy to flower in winter, even poking their petals through the snow. But, for the rest of my son’s newly planted garden, there is no such simple explanation. Maybe, having spent the whole summer and autumn contending with building work last year, it decided it couldn’t face the exigencies of winter too and thought it would give it a miss.
I would have expected, by now, to be left with just the evergreens, adding their own touches of colour to a pale and wintry world.
But, while the weather forecasters speak of Arctic temperatures and winter gales, Nature is busy doing her own thing. Anemones that were planted as spring flowers, due to blossom between April and May, decided to start opening in December. Perhaps, I thought, it was just one confused rogue corm that had taken the initiative? But no, they are all at it now and show no sign of stopping, just because it is only January.
The roses are happily blooming away, with an array of buds waiting in the wings… and are already being attacked by clusters of aphids that should have been cosily invisible by now. New growth is appearing on all the newly planted shrubs and rose bushes and the spring bulbs are coming up apace.
The green stars of crocus leaves, their central buds already visible, are not as surprising as the hyacinths… though at least one of those will struggle as its flower bud has been eaten by unseasonable insects. Caterpillars are still about, happily munching their way through the violas and pansies… and yesterday, I saw both a bee and a butterfly.
Even the fish in the pond, who should be in a state akin to suspended animation at this time of year, are swimming around and demanding to be fed…
I, personally, will not complain if my heating bills are lower than usual this winter or if my fingers do not turn black with cold. And I can’t see the small birds complaining either at the unexpected abundance of food that is keeping them away from the bird feeders. But I do worry about how their young, born too early, will fare if the predicted cold snap materialises.
Nature, though, moves at her own pace. We may force growth under glass, but we cannot control the seasons and they take no notice of our neat little calendars and expectations. Just because we dream of, or worry about, snow in winter, there is nothing to stop it snowing in June as it has in the past. And there is not a thing we can do about it. So, if the garden has decided that spring will come early… all we can do is enjoy it. And keep the bird feeders filled and ready…