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29th November 2020.

The week seems to have flown by. A chill in the air has sent me to bed early and left me disinclined to rise prematurely. To be frank, I have slept through as much of it as I reasonably could. There is a pleasure in a warm bed that is not easily routed by the rising sun. Dark, wet, gloomy weather have offered little incentive to to out into the garden but in the middle of the week we had two magnificent sunny days. The garden is bare of the summer clutter and the sun shone through the trees leaving networks of shadow on the ground.
Beautiful days for walking around just looking at things. At this time of the year the view from the top of the garden is magnificent, far better than any of the horticultural contrivances that I have installed over the years. I should really plant a windbreak and block the view but I can't bring myself to do it. Just once or twice each year I take the time to stand, take a deep breath and look out to the horizon. Those days are invariably sunny and still which is no surprise. On a blustery day up there the wind would rip my head off.

29th November 2020

Galanthus 'Barnes' .
These are the last days of autumn but with sharp shadows playing across the fresh grass it could as easily be the start of spring and the garden is keen to hasten onwards. Under cover the autumn snowdrops have finished but the earliest spring flowers have appeared in the garden. Galanthus 'Barnes' is a form of G. elwesii selected from the Hiemalis Group and flowering reliably before Christmas. I have been down on my hands and knees before it repeatedly in the last week, willing it to open and release the promise of better times that I feel sure lies wrapped in its fragile tepals. Finally some sunshine encouraged it and the thrill of spring stepped closer.
Looking through the snowdrop beds there are signs of new shoots all over. I have a border of camellias underplanted with Erythronium and G. 'Brenda Troyle'. I have been using it as a short-cut to get across the garden - that will have to stop. I can't see the new shoots emerging yet but they must be well on their way. I would hate to discover them crunchy and mangled underfoot one day. Unfortunately, as my sleeping habits might have indicated, I am almost impossibly lazy and a short-cut is a short-cut.
I must cut some branches and make a proper barricade to control myself. Gardens are insane, or is it just gardeners? Let me sleep on it.

29th November 2020

Nerine undulata .
The greenhouse has been a refuge in the danker corners of the week. Early spring growth is starting to stir just as the watering regime slows. It is the time of year for tidying up and for some reason there is a lot of it to do. It didn't feel like a particularly messy summer but I am slowly being squeezed out of the greenhouse by things I have "just put down there for a moment". A place for everything and everything in its place. When I was younger that seemed like a ridiculous waste of energy but those were the days when I could put things down and remember where I last had them. Nowadays I can stand staring straight at my bright red secateurs and still wonder where I have left them.
Slowly the accumulated detritus of deferral is being tackled. I have another month to deal with it. Usually the pace of the garden has started to increase by the new year. Self-indulgent tasks like tidying have to go onto the back-burner again.
I have been trying to keep on top of the Nerine, sowing seed as soon as it ripens, cutting off flower stems and controlling the mealy-bug. There is a last bright show from N. undulata hybrids and it is cheering to sit among them as the light fades in the afternoon watching the bright colours burn against the darkening sky. In cool weather they should last for a few weeks more and the very latest forms of N. undulata will flower in the new year. They are pale, chilled pink but they come at a time of year when any colour is welcome. I would love to do some late hybrids but by that time of the year the greenhouse is so cold that I don't get any seed set. I may have to cheat and bring a pot or two indoors.

29th November 2020

Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' .
Snowdrops are the first promise of spring. They indicate that the season is moving slowly forwards. As the snowdrops hit their peak I will still be stamping my feet on the cold ground and puffing condensed breath around the garden, but anticipating the sun. I will be expecting to see Crocus at any moment dappling the ground like purple impressionist shadows. At least that is the ideal. I have had several attempts to establish Crocus tommasinianus and so far the crocus-eating rodents are winning. I have a couple of small groups that have managed to survive. Time to have another go. I have planted 500 more in the rockiest part of the garden, hoping that they will survive long enough to get their corms below the point of rodent excavation. If they survive, they will mark the start of spring warmth.
Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' is the first installment, opening as the sun hit it mid-week. It is certainly a spring bulb, there will still be flowers on it in March and although I only have a couple open at present they are enough to brighten the whole garden.
I live in the middle of the daffodil district. If I looked around at the moment I could probably find a field of golden flowers sparkling in the sunshine. I need to take the van out to keep the battery from going flat, daffodil hunting might be a cheering way to run the engine for half an hour.