Time to plan ahead


As I watch the Sunday wind wreak havoc in my garden on the hilly outskirts of Rye towards Udimore, it is tempting just to keep the curtains closed and the heat in, and watch Monty Don on TV touring gardens worldwide which might stir up a few ideas – though often it is just disbelief.

And, as the rain keeps pouring down, my pond has actually sprung a leak, and my gardener, who does the things my 80-year-old body can no longer do, is holidaying in the sun in Thailand – or that was his plan.

A brief hour may emerge when the rain stops and the temperature is vaguely ok, and I will then pull up everything that looks dead and offers no resistance. I am advised that long term plants (not annuals) will be dug in and not easy to pull out.

However a large evergreen climber with massive roots has been hit hard by the period of freezing temperatures and looks like it needs some drastic pruning. Some other perennials also look like they could possibly do with some pruning to encourage growth.

Seeking advice

Those that show possible signs of new growth will be left alone. But perhaps I should be consulting my raft of gardening books? They however tend to gather dust like my long shelf full of cookery books which reflects an “intention” rather than actual use. A pattern often repeated in my 80 years – which might explain a couple of divorces.

A more productive activity though is digging out all my seed packets and establishing that only one item needs sowing in January, and February and March will be the months where every possible inside windowsill acts as a temporary greenhouse. Curtains however must be opened and shut with care as my bedroom carpets are allergic to compost.

This reminds, though, that this time last year I was being prepped for hospital and keyhole surgery and a few days recovery, which turned into a major op, a huge scar on my stomach and some months on my sitting room sofa (fairly immobile) while district nurses changed my bandages, saying (reassuringly, I think), “surgeon says you nearly died”. Hmmm.

This forecast of near death was repeated during the Queen’s lying in state in September when I was rushed to Conquest’s accident and emergency with blood pressure out of control, and still somewhat erratic. So my garden has been neglected in the past year, and I am looking forward to the year ahead, but not climate change.

The changing weather

It is a subject I know well, though. as my last 15 paid years were in Whitehall as a quite senior civil servant; and forecasts predicted not just in the 90s, but dating back to the UN Development Decade in the 60s (when I was at my first university), are now coming home to roost big time in worldwide weather changes causing major wildfires, floods and landslides, melting ice, and raising sea levels –  among many other consequences.

For me that means thinking through what veg and fruit I should be growing (and can grow), and whether the garden and individual plants need more protection from the weather.

So, while I cannot do much in the garden because of the weather, perhaps I need to read some of my climate change books, including all my personal files on these changes which I left Defra with and transported, first from Camden Town to Torquay, and then from Torquay back to Rye (plus what I picked up in Totnes which was a haven for sustainability!).

So, if you have a garden, this is not a completely “idle” time of year, not that I would dare suggest that any gardener is idle – and I still have my Christmas plant imports, azalea and rhododendron, to tend for as long as possible until they naturally die.

But I am writing this on a Sunday morning and I must get my priorities right. Titchmarsh is on ITV, surrounded by actresses and sipping alcohol. It takes me back to the 60s.

Image Credits: Tim Redfern .

Previous articleWarming up the Homeless
Next articleThe red seal


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here