The dreams of all the children in Glasgow have come true: we have snow! Or “sna” as they say in Aberdeen. It was a beautiful sight yesterday afternoon:
And as I write, more is falling. This morning, I took Tilly out into the garden. She made her way with with great caution:
We know this isn’t the first time she has experienced snow, because she was rescued when she was a stray kitten out in the snow in Aberdeen in February 2006.
So, just when I was thinking we wouldn’t have any snow such as Katharine Stewart described in her January 12th essay, we have a little taste of it. Her essay for January 18th begins by extolling the virtues of the hellbore. One of its nicknames is the “Christmas rose”. She writes: “The darling bud is lying there, tight closed, on the white ground, ready to open when the cold eases.” (p. 33) Some of my hellebores have sprouted up in the last week or so, despite the cold:
I know from my garden in Aberdeen, which experienced much colder weather than here in Glasgow, that the hellebores will be just fine. There are buds on the camellia, and I am hoping that it will give us as beautiful a show as it did last year. There are plenty of camellias in Aberdeen, so I am fairly confident this one will cope.
Katharine Stewart writes, “This is not the weather for garden work, except checking fences, but in the short, bright afternoons there is time to walk and look and plan.” Well, my fences are fine and I don’t need to walk far to survey my garden, but I have been planning – spending time with seed catalogues, which is the gardener’s favourite winter past-time.
She then writes about weeds, taking up a few of the threads of her earlier essay. She says that her “most persistent and invasive plant” is sweet cicely, but that it can be used as a sweetener with rhubarb, and that she gives “small plantlets to friends, with dire warnings about keeping it in check”. She also finds feverfew beneficial: “I now give plants of feverfew to friends who suffer from migraine and they consider it beneficial. A few leaves eaten straight from the plant do bring relief”. I wonder if I have feverfew in my garden? I do leave some volunteer daisy-like plants to grow. I must give this some thought next summer.
She writes about clover, which is so helpful for bees. When I was, for a few years, head gardener at South Holburn Church, I worked hard to convince members of the church that we should leave the clover in the lawn, rather than to spray weedkiller on it, as had been done. A lot of the older members considered that clover was a sign of an untended lawn. Perhaps some of them had been groundskeepers; a lot of them were keen lawn bowlers. After a few years, along with efforts of others in the church to qualify as an “eco-congregation,” and also publicity in the media about the plight of bees, they stopped killing the clover. As far as I know, no children or others were stung by bees, and I think people became more open to the idea that leaving the clover was making a positive contribution to the environment.
Last year at this time, I spent some absolutely freezing sessions planting wildflower plugs in our little lawn. They are intended for a lawn that is regularly mown short, and include red clover, white clover, lawn daisies, oxeye daisies, birdsfoot trefoil, chamomile and lady’s bedstraw. It was hard work and I often wondered if my church garden colleagues in Aberdeen would be horrified. We did have a few daisies this summer, and the clover has done well. Katharine Stewart might have been amused at the idea of city dwellers spending time and money to bring wildflowers in to their gardens, when they are so plentiful out in the country.
She finishes her essay by mentioning the dreaded horsetail, or equisitum. “It’s not a plant I’d care to talk to,” she writes (p. 34). I had never encountered horsetail before moving to Glasgow. Some tiny bits of it came with the new soil – to my and the landscapers’ utter horror. Luckily, I think I was able to get them all out. I shall have to be vigilant next spring. I literally had nightmares about it! There is a lot of it about here. J has spent hours in her new garden trying to deal with it. She said a friend of hers spent eight years ridding her garden of horsetail, by making sure that “never a Sunday went by that it wasn’t all pulled out”. You see it growing up through concrete! It would take over the world if given half a chance, I’m sure.
I know I am a day early in writing about Katharine Stewart’s January 18th essay, but this will have to do as I have a full weekend ahead, including shopping for a black top for Liturgical Choir today, and singing in a special ecumenical Unity service tomorrow. I shall let you know how it goes!
I wish you all a good weekend.