In suspense Posted on March 19, 2013

This little walnut pedestal desk between the windows has felt the scratching of something like five hundred episodes of Trad and at least a dozen books. This is its last Trad; not mine, I hasten to say. The last furniture leaves the house tomorrow, either for the sale room, our children’s houses or (what seems an exiguous amount) our new lodgings in London. A new desk is ready.


In these last few weeks at Saling the weather has conspired to minimize any pains of parting. There has scarcely been an hour when a walk round the garden has not involved boots and scarves, and usually an umbrella too.

It is primroses that prove the heroes of a recalcitrant winter. Since the first pricked up their green ears in late December they have slowly

spread their clumps, bulked up, opened a few flowers regardless of what sort of day it is. On the corner of the moat they have formed a pale pool under the low branches of a wild myrobalan plum, whose little white stars in a vase in the hall look almost shockingly Japanese.

Hellebores are not easily discouraged; rather the boot is on the other foot – I’m discouraged from going out to consult their bashful down-turned flowers. Daphne bholua keeps going in good heart, but the fact that I am still talking about it on the eve of the equinox proves how stuck we are.

Even that most unfailing and beautiful harbinger, the weeping willow, has yet to show its peeping pale green leaves. We have forced a reluctant white Ribes to open its flowers in the house. Spiraea thunbergii is brightening with tiny points of green; look carefully at the Japanese maples and you can see their pairs of tiny buds are swelling hints of energy to come.


But frost visits every night and fog every morning. No balm tempts us out even at midday. There seem mercifully few reasons to dally.

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

Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book

I wrote my first Pocket Wine Book in 1977, was quite surprised to be asked to revise it in 1978,…

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The International Dendrology Society (IDS)