11 April 2011

Though still we crouched by bluebells moon by moon

So in fact the government did not shut down and the mood at the office is largely one of relief, tinged with a sort of let-down feeling. Not that we're disappointed that a deal was reached, of course, but we're all suffering from adrenaline poisoning.

There was also a moment on Sunday afternoon, when I stood in the middle of my garden with spade in hand thinking that with a couple days' furlough I could really make some progress here.

That's what leave is for, I suppose. I should schedule some and dedicate it to catching up in the garden.

There is a point, usually mid January in these climes, when gardeners feel they have actually been cast out of Eden -- for so one's own patch of weeds and mud seems in those dark winter days -- into some place of unending frost, where there is only the wailing and gnashing of teeth as the camellias expire to unheard-of overnight low temperatures, or a much petted climbing rose is reduced to a broken tangle by a blizzard that seems not just violent but actively malevolent.

Like other mortals, gardeners cannot bear very much reality. Faced with terrible weather and short grey days, we take refuge in the fantasy world of nursery and seed catalogues. And then we buy too many plants -- or what will seem like too many plants come April, when they all arrive and we have to fit them in somehow.

Regular readers may remember that I tend to do the same thing with bulb catalogues in July. I'm not sure if this means I have an unusually low tolerance for reality, or only that July is in its way as bad as January.

How many plants is too many is a moving target. Are you exceeding your budget? How much space do you have to fill? How many holes do you want to dig? How much time do you have to dig those holes?

For me, the answers are: no; plenty, but I'm not sure what I want to do with it all; only a moderate number; and less than I think I do. Hence the wistful thought of a few days' furlough. Still, I think I'm happier being able to go to work, and knowing that I'll get a paycheque.

Wilfrid Owen

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