Clean break: The long, cold winter has made my garden tidier than ever

Yes, we know it's been a long, cold winter. And to be quite frank, we're bored of hearing about it. But has any good come of it, asks Emma Townshend?

Dear Gods of the Weather, we are the gardeners of the United Kingdom and we are frankly underwhelmed by your efforts so far re: spring. Underwhelmed, and very, very tired. We are tired, for example, of listening to other people moaning about the weather. There seems no end to the many ways in which British people can moan about the weather.

You can try to put a spin on moaning, of course. You can dress it up as a gag about Narnia and its eternal winter, or you can snort through your nose as you describe your latest chilblains in comic detail. You can even quote some science stuff about melting icewater from the Arctic sheet. But in the end we are all grey-clad characters sitting at the bus stop, long past time, waiting in the freezing-cold for the arrival of a (possibly mythical) big pink double-decker called Spring.

We are tired of ourselves as we exist in winter, too. We need a sunny day, yes (admittedly because we are parched of vitamin D and have the facial colour of someone not so recently deceased) but also because we need change. We garden to watch things grow and double and bloom and fall. For the past two months things have been in stasis. In early February the customary tiny buds appeared on trees, bulbs sprouted, and then you up there changed your minds and now look: there are still hellebores in full bloom. Yep, Christmas roses. The clue's meant to be in the title.

It is also doing our heads in to have the totally freaky combination of long evenings and, er, snow. We want to stop looking through catalogues and do some actual digging. And Mark down the road wants to build his decking. Each to his own. As for me, I would like just to be able to sit outside without feeling a freezing wind blowing down my neck.

It's also just plain distracting. An entire nation of gardeners is currently being led to wonder whether winter is genuinely just going to carry into 2014.

Perhaps it proves that when it comes to the garden, we live in the moment. We're a people who can't do the right packing for their summer holiday if it's raining outside. And at present, our large brains, capable of doing advanced calculations about various things, cannot quite do the maths about how it will eventually, definitely, without a doubt be at least a bit warmer in a month or two. Two days of gas left for the whole UK? Never mind that, I'm planning to have my heating on until September.

On the upside, Gods, I'll give you this: the April garden has rarely looked tidier. No weeds have been able to poke their interfering heads above ground level and the wisterias are still pressed neatly against the houses, proffering only blank twigs. The only spring bulbs to have maintained a presence are the irrepressible yellow Tête-à-Tête daffodils (right), which deserve an award for sterling bloodymindedness in inclement territorial waters.

I myself have done an extraordinary number of horticultural jobs for the time of year. I've swept up a metric tonne of twigs and finally pruned the shady elder tree of seven heavy branches. I've sawn up the wood and ferried it in a surprising number of journeys to the tip. I've put the cold frame on Freecycle for someone else to sow optimistically: I suddenly feel too old. I've repotted all the indoor plants. I've picked all the crisp packets out of the front garden and the brown stick bits out of the jasmine bush. I've made time to plant all of last summer's hasty garden-centre purchases. I've even cleaned all the windows. And still you Gods neither notice nor care.

And as a result, the strangest thing has happened. All of us looked at our tidy plots, ready-to-go visions of loveliness and order, and began to wonder whether this is a glimpse of gardening outside normal time. Gardening without the relentless tick, tick, tick of the clock, where the seasons stay still until all the necessary jobs are finished. Mmm… maybe you Gods were trying to give us mortals some kind of gift, after all.

Three that can still put a smile on your face

Dahlia 'Ambition'

Gloriously carmine and covered in flowers from August for as long as the sun shines.

£5.99 a pot,

Begonia 'Crackling Fire'

This electric-fuchsia begonia will perform "in any weather" according to Suttons, which can only be a plus...

3 Super Plugs, £9.99,

Hydrangea 'Hokomac'

Starts off tasteful green, turns bright pink throughout the summer. Irresistible smile factor.


Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Suggested Topics
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridgeface-off in the final
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value

Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas