The contrast with last year couldn’t be more striking. In April 2013 I spent most of the month counting my losses. First the Echiums, which had sailed through two winters and were ready for flowering until they were struck down by late frosts. I lost nearly a hundred. And then the cannas, which I had been forced to leave outside while the new greenhouse was being built, and which also succumbed to the unseasonal cold. Another hundred plants gone.
This year my Echiums are already throwing up their flowering spires, and some of them are in flower – a month ahead of schedule. And the cannas are sprouting nicely.
I spent most of the month out of the country, leaving for Japan on the 7th and not returning until the 22nd. Just before I left the first asparagus shoots had begun to appear and by the time I returned I had a full crop. Since then, I’ve been subsisting on a diet of steamed asparagus with butter, followed by rhubarb pie with cream. I’m not sure if this is the healthiest regime but it’s most enjoyable, and it has done wonders for my waist line.
It was almost worth being away to see how the garden had developed whilst I was gone. The maples, which had been bare twigs, were now in full leaf. The azaleas and rhododendrons had come into flower. It was a scene of colour and life, and how different from the desolation of 2013.