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Flat as a pancake


by James Alexander-Sinclair

Last Sunday evening the rain, that had been pouring down all day, turned to snow...Instead of being light, fluffy cotton-woolly snow this was wet and heavy.


Angelica archangelicaLast Sunday evening the rain, that had been pouring down all day, turned to snow. Had I not had to spend at least part of the evening towing stuck motorists up a steep hill in the village, it would have been very pretty to watch. It stopped falling around 10pm and by the next morning it had all gone.

All well and good except that we have a bit of a British Rail problem - it was completely the wrong type of snow. Instead of being light, fluffy cotton-woolly snow this was wet and heavy. As a result many of my clever plans for the winter garden have come to nothing.

Things that were supposed to look sparkly and incandescent in the low light and frosty mornings are now lying in a crumpled heap like laundry in a teenager's bedroom. In particular I have a line of the wonderful tall grass, Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea 'Windspiel', that by this time of year has turned the colour of ripened corn. It should stand for at least another month but looking at the plant now it looks as if it got in the way of a lot of large people wearing clumpy boots. The same has happened to an entire bed that should look like this but instead looks like this.

This weekend I shall cut everything down and consign it to the compost heap. So what to do? Depressingly, there is not an instant solution - it's not that easy to replace something that is 7' tall. It is the old Rabbie Burns thing about the best laid plans of mice and men etc.

I have been scuppered by fate and the weather but there is always a silver lining somewhere. Other things in the garden still look wonderful - for example the beech columns that are glowing in the winter sunlight, some gorgeous skeletal seedheads (Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' and Datisca cannabina) and even some flowers left (especially Aster 'Lady in Black' and A. 'Monte Cassino').

Most importantly time flies in gardens and soon it will be spring (or is that pushing the optimism just a bit too far?).



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