The feral jasmine cascading over the wall from next door, blending indistinguishably with the thick hydrangea and ivy, is starting to flower as though it were at home in its Burmese forest. Does it have no thermometer?Hellebore buds are pregnant; a shy primrose has just opened one eye; the grassy spikes of tommies have appeared and the king of snowdrops, Galanthus elwesii has reached its commanding seven-inch height. It’s all quite late, it seems to me, even the winter cherry, even our December-flowering camellia – except the uninvited jasmine. Though yesterday minuscule points of incipient buds (I need a lens to see them) appeared on Clematis alpina – than which nothing looks deader. We are fifteen minutes to the good of the shortest day. Plenty of action soon.
News from Kensington Palace, though (which makes me sound like a Royal Correspondent). Work has started on a new garden in front of Queen Anne’s fabulous Orangery, Hawksmoor’s most elegant London building. The central alley of boring and massively overgrown evergreens; yew, holly and laurel, which was its only feature, is being abolished. Todd Longstaffe-Gowan has designed a formal layout, again around two parallel lawns, with flowerbeds and trim little topiary. Rather in the style, I imagine, of the parterre at Hampton Court. Diggers have arrived: daily excitement to come.