Home from a wintry dash to Krakow and Beaune, two of Europe’s best-preserved ancient towns. Beaune still has its girdle of walls; at Krakow they pulled them down and replaced them with a green belt charmingly called the Planty (can it really mean just that?), now a circular park of mature oaks and limes and planes. Every town should have one.
Home to find the new greenhouse ready for commissioning. Gulp. The plants that go in here depend entirely on me for their survival. The bench is a blank sheet, a bare wall, a challenge. Happily the last panes of glass have gone in just as the temperature falls to zero; the first inhabitants are genuine refugees; a cymbidium, some favourite pelargoniums from Saling Hall, some salvias still in bloom.
The lemon pot is too heavy for me to move from the verandah; shall I be able to keep it snug enough tucked up in fleece, with a glass roof but no walls? Not I fear if this winter is like the last.
But a score of pots of bulbs – also refugees, this time from the squirrels that have already been munching – gives the bench a look of purpose and hope. Snowdrops are poking up; I shall see them this winter in a completely different focus from the white rugs of the countryside. Iris reticulata is stirring. Worryingly a cyclamen the size of a Chelsea bun is not.