The weather at this time of year does strange things to the mind — and to the wardrobe. One day is cold, the next is hot. Changing locations makes the uncertainties even worse. What do I pack? Summer dresses or winter woolies?
I arrived in England a few days ago on a chilly morning that felt much like the mornings I’d left behind in Canada. But looking out at the countryside, it was obvious that summer was now dressing the fields.
Not so at Glen Villa, my home garden in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. In the weeks before I left, the garden didn’t know what to wear.
Jeffersonia, or twin leaf (Jeffersonia diphylla) decided to put on its party dress and bloom earlier than usual. While farther south it is common, in Quebec it is rare, almost non-existent. And since it reminds me of my home state of Virginia and of Thomas Jefferson, after whom it was named, it has a special place in my heart.
It was the same story on the berm by the Skating Pond. There, hundreds of daffodils were decked out in frills of yellow and white, daffodilling for all they were worth.
(A side not: A year or two ago, I noticed that the daffodils were arranged in rows like soldiers lined up for inspection instead of mingling willy-nilly like friends at a party. To relax the effect, I began to move clumps while the daffodils were still in bloom, so I could immediately see the effect. That was two or three years ago. This year I can see that, bit by bit, my plan is working.)
Over the first two weeks of May, temperatures fluctuated wildly, going from summertime highs to wintertime lows. I watched as buds promised to flower, only to shrink back inside their winter clothes. At the end of April, the buds on the magnolia trees in the Lower Garden were closed as tightly as they had been all winter.
In sunnier and more sheltered spots they were beginning to open.
A day or two of sunshine tricked them into showing their colours…
despite night time temperatures that were still dipping to 2C or 3C degrees.
And then, only days before I left for England, the trees burst into bloom.
Under the linden tree, grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) that were still coming into bloom decided to spread their blue skirts across the grass.
And then it snowed.
Spring green and snow white is not a colour combination I want my garden to wear. Nor do I want to see it dressed that way.
In England, only the memory of the cold and the unwelcome snow remains. Yesterday was warm and sunny, such a perfect day that I spent all of it at Kew Gardens.
The white that clothed the ground there wasn’t snow, it was a swath of little daisies.
The Azaleas were flouncing around in dresses as gaudy as any you’d want to see.
This being England, by the end of the day, as rain threatened, winter seemed to be on its way back.
Today again is sunny and I’m hoping that the weather will be warm on Wednesday when I visit the Chelsea Flower Show and will remain warm throughout the next two weeks, as I visit gardens, old and new, in the counties that surround London. But whatever the weather holds, I think my (overstuffed) suitcase has something that suits.
How’s the weather in your part of the world?