I hate this frelling weather. How did I survive over twenty years off and on of New England and Mid-Atlantic* winters? Most of them in Maine, and about eleven of those as a grown up and so therefore, you figure, at least somewhat voluntarily.** Well, for one thing, you expect it there, all this below-freezing stuff. You aren’t trying to drag a lot of geraniums*** and osteospermums† and cosmos atrosanguineus †† and a couple of little patio clematis and maybe a snapdragon or two, not to mention a confused new tender camellia which is flowering now, through the winter in Maine, unless you are so insanely wealthy that you have a seriously heated conservatory. ††† A large seriously heated conservatory. I had no idea how enormous little things in pots are till they are all over the kitchen floor.‡ It’s a tiny garden but it’s an even tinier kitchen floor.
I hung around drinking tea way too late this morning‡‡, waiting for the temperature to rise enough that I dared take all my great enormous hulking things in pots back outdoors again. Part of the problem becomes that they get used to being indoors with the Aga and are going to have a rougher time with the cold than if I’d just left them out there to begin with . . . in which case they would be dead, which would certainly simplify matters. But I don’t like having them indoors any more hours than I have to . . . but tomorrow morning they’re just going to have to stay in. Drinking tea and reading winter sale catalogues was very pleasant, but there’s no room for it in the regular schedule . . . except maybe hellhounds and I need to think about going out later ourselves instead of freezing our butts off.‡‡‡ Rowan (First Whippet) and I back in Maine went out about noon. Okay, I can relearn to hit my desk in my dressing-gown . . . but I’d rather it warmed up a little. I was just reading in some Sunday supp or other about how you can probably keep an olive tree going in England these days because our winters have got so much warmer and I’m thinking, if I had an olive tree, it too would be spending the nights on my kitchen floor.
Even so, I’ve been bringing the equatorial jungle§ indoors when I get back to the cottage in the middle of the night, so 1 or 2 am . . . but this afternoon as I was about to take hellhounds for their final walk I only happened to glance at the thermometer which read 33° (F, obviously. I don’t do C like I don’t do microwaves, although I don’t think Centigrade fries your internal organs the way I think microwaves do) so hellhound walking was put off another twenty minutes while I dragged the jungle in at five o’clock . . . and it hit the magic 32° mid-drag. One of my rose orders [sic] arrived more or less on the wings of this cold front too, and one of the roses is known to be tender§ so I’ve also got a half-peeled-open rose-delivery bag in the kitchen (so I can water them and give them a bit of sunlight) since I am strangely loath to give floor space to a pot big enough to heel in four roses and it’s a bit ungentle even to the hardy ones to plonk them out there in this weather.
GO AWAY. I WANT SOFT, SOUTH-ENGLISH, GRASS-GROWING-ALL-YEAR WEATHER. I WANT GLOBAL WARMING. Well. Mild, tactful global warming. Keep the polar bears. But get the polar-bear climate out of my garden.
* * *
* Manhattan, sure, but also three and a half years outside Watertown, New York, when I was a kid, in the snow belt. Where I learnt to expect snow for my birthday.
** Although it must be said that this is the woman who used to spend her summers in Manhattan because it was nice and empty (as Manhattan goes). And Maine was full of tourists. (Many from Manhattan.) My weather/population-density relative scale is a little out of norm.
*** pelargoniums, whatever, I give up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelargonium
†† http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmos_atrosanguineus , better known as chocolate cosmos
††† Although I hope you’re keeping it heated for better reasons than raising the survival odds on a few very nice but cheap and easily replaceable tender perennials. I have dim recollections of gardeners in Maine keeping boxes under the bed of sand-buried or newspaper-wrapped tubers and geranium skeletons. This seems to work for some people. Some other people. I at least had the inadvertent self-awareness not to start gardening till I moved to southern England^, where the climate is somewhat on the gardener’s side.
^ And, more to the point, married a crazed gardener
‡ I had no idea that there was going to turn out to be an unknown ulterior motive to choosing, a few months ago, to keep hellhounds crated at night a little longer. I thought I was just discouraging them from deciding to have a gambol in the middle of the night, especially a gambol when inviting me to join them would seem to be a good idea. Hellhounds are actually astonishingly good about not, for example, pulling out the pile of homeopathy journals under the kitchen table and shredding them gaily. They don’t even snatch things off chairs, tabletops and counters^ (much) although they could, and especially things on chairs are likely to be investigated. But they see a lot of plants outdoors and assume that a bit (perhaps rather too much a bit) of outdoors has merely come indoors, and while they have at least half got it that I get weirdly distressed (and noisy) when they tear off flowers and steal the plug plants I’ve just popped out of their plastic prison to go in the ground, still, a lot of plants on what they not unreasonably consider their floor is rather provocative.
You know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs? Chaos in particular keeps trying to eat the chocolate cosmos flowers. I don’t think he has managed to do so yet–I tend to swoop down like an enraged harpy, speaking of noisy–but I’m assuming that the chemistry that makes a chocolate cosmos smell like chocolate is different from that which makes chocolate poisonous to dogs. Which however begs the question of why I have cosmos trying to flower in December. Probably because I keep bringing them indoors when we’re going to have a frost . . . but I thought shortening daylight shut most stuff down, even when it’s not that cold. One of the apple-blossom geraniums is still blooming too. And the camellia, of course, but it’s supposed to.
^ Except socks. Socks are an anarchy zone with a lot of dogs for some reason.
‡‡ While hellhounds gambolled around my feet, speaking of gambolling. They feel that drinking tea comes after the morning hurtle, not before. Usually I manage to make them wait eating-an-apple’s worth, but they don’t approve.
‡‡‡ Hellhounds, especially Chaos, are manic at the best of times. But they go into red-shift blur in cold weather, remanifesting long enough to sink their teeth jollily in your thigh (Chaos) or run up your chest like you’re a tree and he’s a cat (Darkness). Then they Doppler-effect into the distance again.
§ Tipsy Imperial Concubine. No, really: http://www.classicroses.co.uk/roses/t/tipsy_imperial_concubine.html
I love the teas: I love that range of pink-yellow-orange-soft scarlet-dark scarlet that they do, frequently all in the same rose, although most of them are fairly subtle about it and one colour predominates with seductive hints of the rest. And I’ve always wanted to try her but in the days of 500-plus roses back at the old house it was not a plausible option. It’s not really plausible now, but it’s maybe possible. But I’d better have something resembling a working greenhouse by–say–two winters from now, since by the time she goes into her final pot I am not going to want to tote her in and out of the kitchen for weeks on end. Unless of course the ‘warmer winters than we used to’ returns.
§ with optional Bandar-log. The presence of Bandar-log would explain certain strange noises in the middle of the night, and more muddy footprints, surely, than even two hellhounds can be responsible for. I wipe their feet! I do!
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