Last weekend the trees around us suddenly dressed themselves in their new finery. Our exposed situation means that it’s mainly hardy natives that grow well. And while some cheeky chaps from other parts of the world survive, and bloom and come into leaf earlier, the natives know best and hold their finery until fairly certain that harsh frosts won’t blast their tender shoots. So last weekend in our part of the Scottish Borders they decided to put on a display, like models showing off the latest fashions, and this afternoon they looked very cheerful in the sun, although like much of spring so far the breeze is chilly.
Our garden used to be a field, so quite a number of trees had to be felled before we could do much to it. Even now, it’s very much a country garden where plants roam and ramble, nudging neighbours and trampling on the toes of those growing too big for their allotted space.
We can never become too precious about any plants, as they are liable to be munched by roe deer or rabbits or undermined by moles. The pigeons feast on seeds and delight in uprooting seedlings, and a neighbour’s pheasants and partridges often strut across the grass and flowerbeds, straight through whatever plant is my pride and joy at that time. Cats and dogs abound. We’ve even had sheep visiting. Well, it’s the countryside!
In winter north winds howl through crannies in the old stonework of the house, finding their way into bathrooms to chill you as you step from
a warm bath, and sending eddies of icy air around you as you sleep.
But in the garden it’s often the east winds of spring that cause most damage. Whereas branches and plants cowed by snow usually spring back, the cold easterlies of spring can cut down tender plants that have begun to grow or blossom.
Maybe native plants pay heed to the saying about ne’er casting a clout till May be out. Or perhaps that’s the origin of the saying.
But this afternoon everything looked great with plants running rampant through flowerbeds and new leaves basking in the sun. The brown and grey garb of winter and early spring has fallen away, and splashes of bright colours and patterns adorned everywhere I looked.
And although the snowdrops and daffodils are over, plenty other blooms have taken their place in our country garden.