Has anyone seen Spring?


A continued fall in temperatures and vast swathes of the countryside under deep snow. Buxton, Derbyshire, where once I spent much time, seems to have it particularly bad.

Sky News trundled up to Syon on Saturday and were looking for confirmation of the doom & gloom inevitably set to follow slow sales. It is, admittedly, an important time for garden retailers – and gardeners! Keen listeners would hear their preamble proving a direct correlation from bad weather; plant casualties; through poor to appalling trading; triple dip recession! QED.

Well, our plants are pretty hardy, many British grown, and a lot can be done to protect vulnerable plants with a roll or two of fleece. Being a seasonal business, we have the right, seasonal, plants on sale just now and can control stock levels, watching the weather forecasts closely.  There are, however, no 16′ snowdrifts on Brentford Hight Street, upturned snow ploughs,  power cuts… You get the picture. Bad weather will naturally affect whether you feel like a trip to the garden centre. If you can’t get out of your front door, well that is another matter entirely.

I’m sure there will be economic consequences to these extremes of weather but time to enjoy our gardens might too, like Spring, just be postponed. Spring will still happen, it hasn’t been cancelled. It is such a vibrant, exciting time in the garden and this year at least, we will get to enjoy it a little later and maybe for a little longer. Extremes of weather aside (another topic altogether, that is), Spring is a season, changeable by nature, and ought to get a few months of our attention before summer barges in.

Meanwhile Spring sunshine was decidedly absent at RHS Wisley on Saturday past. Sky would have been pleased at the poor visitor numbers. I went for the Grow Your Own weekend events and particularly the Spring Fair. The latter being three super-chilled marquees and few (equally chill though enthusiastic) customers.  On the way out I passed this beautiful Stachyurus chinensis, draped in pendant racemes of small, 4-petalled flowers along the length of each branch.

S. chinensis is a spreading deciduous shrub with arching shoots and abruptly pointed dark green leaves. Growing to height of 2m and by a spread of 4m. And clearly a shrub of great beauty.

Stachyurus praecox, as the name suggests, flowers earlier (late winter/early spring) and can be a taller shrub, up to 4m. The genus originating in woodland and thicket in the Himalayas and E. Asia.


Beautiful and quiet enough to be fully appreciated by this happy photographer.

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