Start, therefore, at the first week of November: thence to the end of January, Christmas Eve being the meridian line, you may compute a period when happiness is in season, which, in my judgement, enters the room with the tea tray. (Thomas de Quincey 1785- 1859, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater)
The thing about winter, whether it be harsh or mild for that matter, is that it still provides the lazy gardener with the option of doing nothing. Let Nature, which doesn't tune in to Gardeners World on a Friday evening, take its traditional course without your assistance. In the autumn you did quite enough, heaving those large tender plants to safety avoiding the first frosts and visits to the chiropractor or even A&E. Ignore the urgings to sharpen the mower in readiness for later labours. Push aside for a moment all those irksome tasks with which conscience belabours the brain. What happens if you don't wash the greenhouse or whip the walnut trees, wrap up and root about the corners of the garden shed to examine whether the chrysanthemum stools have developed grey mould, and likewise the dahlia tubers? You'll only have to do something about it if you do discover all is not well in the winter store. Ignorance may be a short-lived bliss, but it will save your icy fingers and bad temper. As for winter pruning, best to get someone in who is not only safe on a ladder even in sleet and snow, but who also knows the difference between spur-bearing or tip-bearing fruit trees. In short, Thomas de Quincey has a point. In his demands for wintry happiness, he imagines a scene of warm cosiness:
Paint me a good fire and furniture plain and modest. And near the fire, paint me a tea-table; and place only two cups and saucers on the tea-tray; and if you know how to paint such a thing, paint me an eternal teapot.
His picture, though, is rather spoilt by the addition of his opium as a side dish.
At the next meeting of Wells Gardening Club, there will be festive refreshments, though no laudanum. This event is the first of the season and as such there will be no charge for admission. Everyone is very welcome, whether as a potential member or occasional visitor. After a very short general meeting there will be an informal quiz, a raffle, a few plants for sale, a chance to chat and an opportunity to view the events lined up and to join if wished. It will be an informal and friendly meeting, something that will liven up the dark days of this back end of winter. We all know that Spring is on its way. The date and place of January's event: Wells Town Hall on Thursday 12th January 2023 at 7.30 pm. Free to all.
A happier new year to everyone. Pip.