Mum has taken the good weather away with her. The ambient temperature for the last few days has been “not as warm as it looks”.

Sighting sunshine, I confidently strode out with my coffee this morning and had to make a very rapid diversion to the greenhouse before I froze. Seeing as I was in there anyway, I exhorted the cuttings to grow harder and sowed a packet of clary sage which had come free with a magazine last year and somehow never made it into a tray. If I get a few out of it that’s all to the good. I also sowed half of my jalapeños and windowsill tomatoes (I’ll sow the rest a little later and see which do better). My chillis were distinctly underpowered last year so I am resolved to look after them better this year. (I think they were underwatered).

Keith later reported that if one was (a) in the sun and (b) out of the wind it was quite pleasant. Alas I never quite managed to get those two desiderata to converge so I’m not sure where he was lurking. No matter where I was with the barrow today I seemed to be facing down the west wind. On the whole, I think this was salutary. Gardening on a calm, sunny day I tend to forget just how fierce our winds are. You can always tell what has been planted in benign conditions. The plants lean at 45 degree angles. I passed two such penstemon by the pond, rooted cuttings planted up in the balmy summer last year – lots of new growth and healthy looking, but lurching drunkenly along the ground. On days like today I am forcibly reminded of the need for windbreak plants. Luckily, I had a whole lot of them to hand. I have a very vigorous variegated iris growing in various places alongside the pond. I grow it mainly for the rather attractive, foliage – which is lucky as I can’t remember it flowering much – and its willingness to thrive in the worst clay subsoil. (In fact I think there must have been one in the garden when we bought the place as I am pretty sure I never bought it.) Anyhow, the clumps thicken at an alarming rate and I chopped three of the largest down by two thirds last week. Today, I wheeled my barrow along the new border (which is coming along nicely) and rehomed eight generous clumps spaces on the windward side of plants which otherwise might be blown to bits. I was really quite pleased with the effect – there’s a lot to be said for repetition in a long border. (No photos I’m afraid – by the time I thought of that it was two dark! I promise to do better and have stuck in some shots of the primulas, daffs and hazel catkins as compensation.)

Following a lengthy bath and the donning of the all time favourite thick cardi, I now have a slightly tingly, sand blasted feeling which bodes ill for eternal youth. An evening by the fire with my new knitting project beckons. That’s if Lyra leaves some space on the sofa.

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