Anticipating Posted on March 1, 2013

By the first of March I expect (and impatiently demand) signs of spring to be lightening up the garden. There are precious few this year. Cold wet ground and a steady east wind week after week have delayed even snowdrops (they are not quite fully open even now). Little Tommie crocuses are weeks behind schedule. Two bold open-faced flowers, in fact, put them to shame: primroses and hellebores have pressed on regardless. Cornus mas is our other undaunted plant; the big bush by the front drive has been getting yellower and yellower since January.


Among the precocious cherries, Prunus autumnalis made a good January show before snow and ice clobbered it. It will be back in

action soon. Prunus ‘Kursar’, on the other hand, a 30 foot tree, is perhaps a week from its shocking pink climax. The conservatory is hardly wide awake, either. The Hardenbergia is over and jasmine is yet to start, just swelling its long pink buds. Meyer’s lemon is ready, if not fully operational. The chief excitement is the early Riviera rose, La Follette, with its roseate shoots a foot long and, I just spied yesterday, half a dozen long pointed flower buds.

Meanwhile our successor’s surveyor has been patiently working through the garden for the past shivery week, leaving little yellow flags and splashes of blue paint to mark his progress. I asked him to give me a scientifically accurate reading of the height of our record-breaking (I presume) climbing rose, Wickwar, up its Christmas tree. 18 metres, he tells me, or a few inches under 60 feet. But then its shoots are waving from the top of the tree with no higher support. Next summer, when the tree’s leader grows again, it will be a full 60 feet. I’d love to know if someone has a taller rose of any variety.

Hugh’s Gardening Books


Trees was first published in 1973 as The International Book of Trees, two years after The World Atlas of Wine….

Hugh’s Wine Books

World Atlas of Wine 8th edition

I started work on The World Atlas of Wine almost 50 years ago, in 1970. After four editions, at six-year…

Friends of Trad

John Grimshaw’s Garden Diary