mad March and awful April

Ah, March…

Late March, sun beating down, I surveyed my garden in the 23 degree heat and decided a barbecue was in order.  It would be to celebrate my birthday, the decking and newly completed steps (well I know how to live).

Invitations were written.  We wandered the neighbourhood enjoying beers in the sun with friendly folk.  Gardens shone everywhere.  It was summer.

That was March….. In like a lamb, out like a lamb.

Then came April in a mad fury.

Then they were flattened

In the space of a single month I lost two greenhouse covers, shredded by wind.  The neighbour’s Eucalyptus deposited a large branch on my daffodils, squashing them flat.

Oh, and the day of my barbecue it snowed and hailed and snowed and hailed – but half an hour before guests arrived the sun came out and the fire could be lit.  It was far too cold to be outside for long, but hey – it stopped snowing and we used hailstones as ice cubes.

The effect on the garden has been strange – outside has coped better than all my tiny seedlings inside.  Apart from wind and falling tree damage, the outside is blooming on and is still ahead of England (bizarrely).  Rhododendrons have been and gone, lillies are over a foot tall, late tulips are out, lettuce and spinach are romping away.  It’s looking extremely splendid, though I say so myself.

snow in aprilInside is a different story. I know seeds can’t grow backwards (though if they did, mine have) but they have been definitely checked.  Chillies have obviously been chilly and they have stopped in their tracks.  Generally there was less growth in all April than probably a single week in March.  Some little guys look so spindly and sad I’m thinking of writing them off and doing some resowing at the weekend.

Weather hey?   Lets hope that March wasn’t the only summer we’ll get and that the rapidly lengthening days will resume a temperature in which seeds will again start growing!  Otherwise a serious shopping trip to the garden centre and nurseries will be in order!

But the fact its currently snowing in May isn’t a good sign!

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Rain stops play in Inverness

Much anticipated, my day in the garden – like the Scottish Open Golf Championship here in Inverness today – simply didn’t get to be.  Crashes of thunder, flashes of lightning and absolute torrents of rain thwarted even my bravest attempts to make the most of my first day in the garden for weeks.  10 cm of rain fell overnight, there was hours of violent storms during the night that overturned trees in the area and caused a landslide at the golf course, and apart from the odd respite, today wasn’t much better.

Clad in my shorts and mac (I’d always rather have just wet legs, than wet legs and wet trousers) I managed to duck out between the worst of the deluges to try some sacrificial pruning on some of the flowers hammered in the exceptionally heavy storms during the night.

foxgloves in rain

Foxgloves at strange angles due to the storms

The tall white and pink foxgloves were particularly badly hit and I pruned many of them down to a pair of leaves in the hope of getting a second flush of flowers.  The leaves of the potatoes also got the chop – they have been wind damaged and are beyond saving, so I have cut back the foliage and will just have to hope the spuds are salvageable.

Earlier this week I arrived home from a work trip to find my pots about 24 hours away from a serious drying out crisis – yet today I was putting what I could under cover in the plastic greenhouses to try and stop them getting any wetter!  The lovely red pelargoniums which are in full flower would definitely prefer being on the dry side, to virtually drowned as they are just now – if this doesn’t stop soon I’ll have to bring them indoors.  Some of the pots of mixed flowers are definitely looking sorry for themselves (and they’re not alone!)

I began to cut back some of the hedge – a miserable task well suited to the conditions – before noticing my outstretched shears were making me look a lot like a strangely dressed lightening conductor.  Not wanting to sizzle as well as squelch,  I eventually gave up and retreated indoors.  It may be July, but getting the fire alight is the only appropriate response to this meteorological menace.

Gardening against the elements, instead of with them, is no fun at all and I think if this was my first year as a gardener I’d have admitted defeat by now.    Still, the slugs and snails are happy and this morning I counted 24 bedraggled sparrows in a row on the hedge.  I’m sure its all going to look very pretty – if only it ever stops raining….