Mr Meldrew Posted on May 16, 2012

Plain simple degrees, and lots of them, are what the garden needs this miserable May. Fahrenheit or Celsius; it won’t mind.

The plants are in as much of a muddle as I am, not so much early or late as all over the place and not going anywhere. Oak has never been so far before ash, but magnolias are just sitting, their flowers half open, some petals frosted, others effectively drowned. And my favourite winter-flowering cherry has caught that nasty fungus and lost all its leaves.

By early April we had had a mere 140 millimetres of rain in the year. Since then we have had 160. If it was the wettest April it is the coldest May. The only plants that keep on growing in this low temperature are weeds and grass; the mower sinks in to the boggy ground and any step on the border to reach the weeds leaves a foot-shaped puddle.

And yet. When I splashed out this morning in my winter coat to see what could be done I walked into a wall of what to me is the Chelsea smell: azaleas in all their boudoir sweetness. The pale faces of Azalea mollis, soft yellow in the grey light, were gently chiding me: look at us, you grumpy old fool.

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