When the weather brings both wonder and despair

As someone who gardens for a living the past few weeks have been particularly trying; the unseasonably warm weather in March resulted in a rush to start getting on with jobs in clients’ gardens and a nice early tan but since then, due to rain of Biblical proportions, it has been difficult to get on with a number of jobs where clearing beds of weeds has been the main task.

In one instance the constant rains of April and early May turned turned the heavy clay into a claggy, gloopy mess from which it was near impossible to extricate anything successfully; stepping on the beds was possible though highly unadvisable as it resulted in rusty water oozing out from within the clay and severe compaction.  Where there has been the odd sunny interlude or dry day I have pressed on, juggling clients according to need and always hoping that tomorrow the weather will hold.

In my own garden the ground is largely saturated and in some places the water is thigh deep and requires wellys to wade through.  A clump of three large Delphinium that were looking stately and vigorous have been ravaged by a combined onslaught of slugs and snails (mainly the latter, of which there are so many this year, a consequence perhaps of not having any sustained period of cold over the winter); two have been almost entirely taken down to within a couple of inches from the ground, my only consolation being that they have had in effect an early ‘Chelsea Chop’; the remaining plant is still standing and I wake every morning hoping that it has made it through another night without suffering the same fate as its brethren.

Mutilated Delphinium

But all is not as ghastly as it sounds and indeed there is much to be enjoyed: the water that sits and glistens on the leaves of Alchemilla and Euphorbia is enchanting,

Euphorbia characias subsp. 'Wulfenii'

the vibrant and invigorating colour of the first Alliums never fails but to leave one slightly overawed and enraptured,

Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation'

the gentle flowers of Polemonium ‘Bressingham Purple’ are by contrast shy and timorous but none-the-less beguiling

Polemonium 'Bressingham Purple'

and the sun piercing a stormy sky fills the body and soul with an elemental energy that is drawn from myth and swirling history.

Sun following a storm

Weather infects our moods, both caresses and lashes at our senses and dictates the labour that we may or may not undertake.  It reminds us, or atleast it should do, of our fragility, mortality, and our position as caretakers rather than as masters of this world that we share with so much other life.


10 responses to this post.

  1. Mother Nature does seem to be asserting her authority this year, Jason. Hang on in there as tough as it is. A gardening friend of mine (who doesn’t have regular clients only rolling, new ones) is six weeks behind as he simply hasn’t been able to work. And I’m struggling to find new things to say about rain, mud and mushy plants. Really quite bored with rain now. Dave


    • The hanging on is usually to my hat in the wind! The last few days have been quite reasonable so hopefully a change is on the way to more settled weather, though of course we still need some rain from time-to-time, I don’t want to wish it all away! Glad to hear the river has receeded by the way (I do read my emails, just very slow in replying!!).


  2. The weather is unseasonal everywhere. We, and the plants are suffering from huge swings in temperature from day to night, This Saturday they have forecast 27° C high during the day falling to a very cold 4° C during the night. We are confused! Don’t worry it will stop raining – after all you officially have a DROUGHT. Christina


    • Those are some extreme temperatures Christina! I’m sure that the plants find it a little disconcerting to go from such heat to cold.


  3. Mother Nature, or what we’ve done to her Jason. But perhaps it was ever thus. THE WEATHER! it will change.


    • Indeed it will, hopefully in time for the Chelsea Flower Show next week as I don’t fancy trying to walk around there with a brolly!


  4. That Bressingham Purple looks stunning, the alliums likewise. Our alliums haven’t flowered just yet, although they’re about to. We’ve had a terrific display of tulips this year though, but I suspect that’s more to do with them being brand new bulbs than the weather. And the garlic I planted last year seems to be loving it, could end up with a few bulbs the size of my fist, if the thickness of the stalks is anything to go by.


    • Hi Darren, the Bressingham Purple is a great plant and is easy to propagate from seed, I usually have a few new plants each year which I dot about. Never really had much luck with garlic but I do sometimes come across wild garlic when out and about and I love the fragrance!


  5. Posted by Rob on May 24, 2012 at 14:22

    I feel your pain, I’ve been feeling much the same way, but things appear to be perking up a bit now!


    • Hi Rob, things have certainly changed since I wrote this: wall-to-wall sunshine with not a drop of rain in the sky. This last fact is as troubling as the constant delude, especially with the hose pipe ban still in force. Oh for some balance!


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