THE IRON GRIP OF WINTER
Ground is like iron out on the plot. We’ll not be lifting roots for a while yet, save pot-grown carrots which are in the greenhouse to keep off the worst of the frost.
I walked down the allotment field to the tinker-chime of feeding goldfinches in charming flocks. They love big, heavily seeded butterfly bushes. Jackdaws, like two old men who’ve lost something, heads down and hands behind their backs. Past the bramble patch. Five wood pigeon lift from an unprotected patch of cabbage with a noisy synchronised flap. A rabbit (just the one) turns tail and scoots off from doing something it obviously knows it shouldn’t* into the briars.
Everywhere has a silver coat, like Frosties. I walk out off of the beaten path. This is a frozen weather treat, not to worry about damage to soil caused by carelessly placed feet. Field beans (for green manure) are hanging low. Fennel looks almost defeated. Globes should have been swaddled with dry bracken but were not. Make a mental note to monitor their condition. Think that, after four good years, I could loose them.
No way I’ll be planting shallots today or even, I suspect, this week. But I do dismantle some poles put up for climbing beans, wrench them out of their icy clamp and store them somewhere safe. I can snip off dormant self-seeded Bishop of Llandstaff dahlia stems in the asparagus bed and inspect the hedges long and hard.
But look closely. Even in the pit of deep midwinter there are apparent signs of hope; catkins clustered thick on hazel, tiny emergent crocus tufts, a very early yellow-flowered celendine and tomorrow the days are getting longer!
*I know that’s nonsense but it left in such a hurry, like a naughty bunny, you could be mistaken for thinking it was feeling guilty.
Copyright, Joe Hashman www.dirtynails.co.uk
Tags: allotment, asparagus, beans, bracken, bramble, butterfly bush, cabbage, carrot, catkin, celendine, crocus, dahlia, december, fennel, field beans, frost, globe artichoke, goldfinch, green manure, greenhouse, hazel, jackdaw, rabbit, shallot, wood pigeon