Unseen mouths Posted on March 12, 2010

The other day I caught myself putting on a tie to go out in the garden, and realised I was doing it simply for warmth. Things had come to a pretty pass …

Then I reflected, not for the first time, on how much hardier women are than men. A bare throat, at least, is de rigueur. Long stretches of leg are routine, clad in, at most, thin tights. A year or two ago the fashion was a bare midriff in all weathers.

True, there are builders who expose their lower backs to the cold, but men in general have the sense to put a bit of fabric between themselves and the elements. You warm up, of course, once you start gardening in earnest. Shedding layers, though, is quite different from venturing out to admire the indifference of buds to the East wind. ‘Overcoat plants’ (who coined the expression?) is all too applicable at the moment.

Crocus tommasinianus offers the only colour with any warmth (snowdrops have no calories) and this morning I discovered the crocuses are being neatly mown by unseen mouths by night. The flowers go, leaving just the white stalks; no sign of the petals and the no-doubt-sweet working parts. Rabbits? Voles? The moorhens would surely leave a mess.

It happened last year (a month earlier), and I said I would try watering them with a repellent product called Grazers and report back. This is the report back.

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

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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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