Untimely daisies Posted on February 9, 2014

It's first flower opened in December. Can anyone name this camellia?

Squelching around Holland Park, as I do most afternoons, there is no mistaking the fact that spring has its foot in the door. Daffodils are opening their buds. The kerria in the Japanese garden is out; borage adds blue to the muddy tangle in a ditch. Porcelain-white Chaenomeles ‘Nivalis’ has been in flower for three weeks and what I took to be snowdrops in a lawn turned out as I got nearer to be daisies.

There has not, to my knowledge, been a single frost in London yet this winter. That ‘yet’ is important. The floods that are tormenting so much of the country amount to little more than puddles here, but I can’t remember any year when cold weather hasn’t arrived soon or later. I fear it may come in March, and remember with a shiver the weeks of East winds that last year made our departure from Saling Hall feel like a retreat from Moscow.

Are we getting a false impression of London life? I went out and picked a ripe lemon on the verandah last night from a tree happily flowering away in the rain. (Odd that rain doesn’t seem to inhibit the self-pollination of its endless flowers). The hawthorn on the roof outside my study is opening its buds three months ahead of schedule. The streets of Kensington are gay with camellias. I write this down so that I will believe it happened when things return to normal.

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