The pond, a sad, dead and empty watery hole, has become deader and emptier yet since a pair of mallards and one or more herons ( I found tell-tale rounded feathers) have made short shrift of the black wriggling masses of immature tadpoles. Only a few stragglers remain and those juicy stands of Caltha polypetala (buttercups on steroids), have been grazed down to green ribs by I don’t know whom or what. Perhaps the otter, bound to be facing a severe shortage of fish by now, has turned vegetarian?
What is a woman to do? Cheer herself up with a new wardrobe is one solution, and I’d found just the thing. One of our German wwoofers had bought the April issue of “Marie Claire”, which contained a supplement, entitled “WORKWEAR SPECIAL”. It was a revelation, starting with “THE WORK SHOE CHART”. I instantly spotted “a practical chunky, heel with a high fashion twist” by Marni, green and white and a snip at £408 as just the thing for making those “chunky but fashionable” indentations into soft ground, suitable for planting potatoes in at a later date.
The purple stiletto on the same page will come in really handy for the lining out of hard-wood cuttings. Why laboriously punch holes into black plastic with a short length of fencing wire, prior to inserting said cuttings, when I can simply walk across that shiny black expanse in my £470 Gio Diev’s?.
And it gets even better. I rather fancy that bright yellow bargain blazer (£330) on page 23 – great camouflage while working amongst buttercups. But then, a silk mix is perhaps not the most practical and I might plump for the white cotton jumper at £465 instead, white being the traditional colour for those who toil in the soil.
There’s no doubt in my mind that most, if not all, of the models in this supplement are gardeners, as they not only stand, bolt upright ( a sure sign of gardener’s back, also known as sciatica), next to some potted greenery, but have at their feet, green handbags (such a telling colour), bound to hold secateurs, pruning knife – perhaps even a small trowel?
There was a brief outbreak of spring during the final week of March, lasting exactly three days – three days of sunshine, prompting frantic activity and culminating in a tropical 16º Celsius in the shade on Monday, 26th. This, as was to be expected, really showed off the spring fashions of some plants.
Plants, unlike humans, don’t follow fashions, they wear the same outfit year in year out and simply wait until fashion comes to them and their floral colours and textures are all the rage again. There’s Rhododendron ‘Praecox’ in diaphanous amethyst silk – perfect for gliding down the red carpet. Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ harks back to the days when crochet was in vogue, while Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ sports trusses in timeless Barbara-Cartland-pink.
Double hellebores have brought back the ra-ra skirt, displaying white, apple-green and dusky pink versions, and Pieris ‘Debutante’ lives up to her name in coy, muted cream.
I’m not quite sure where the highly textured leaves and inflorescence of Gunnera tinctoria, in a fetching combination of rhubarb stew pink and rich green, fit in, but Synthyris missurica var. stellata is elegance personified. Its crowd of long-stalked lavender-lilac flower cones, backed by rounded leaves in a restrained shade of green, are a cat walk sensation.
Finally, there are the garden’s frogs in timeless black and olive camouflage.