Years ago Trad used to do periodical weather reports – partly because no one else seemed to; they just grumbled. In Essex in the 1970s I spotted a warming trend. In the ’80s it was the coming Ice Age everyone was talking about. I kept painstaking records of rainfall and temperature in a book in the greenhouse for 41 years without learning very much, let alone being able to plot a pattern.
Rainfall at its meanest was something like 16 inches, in the whole of 1976; I think one year we were blessed with 40. Our coldest winter was 1982/3. A lot of favourite plants were killed; I have fondest memories of an Abelia triflora 12 feet high, graceful as a fountain, its pink flowers divinely perfumed in June.
Like an idiot (and lots of other gardeners) I took this as a sort of divine command, or at least a pretty strong hint, not to try growing them again – and so missed their company unnecessarily for the next 30 years. You find out that a plant is tender when it dies; meanwhile you should enjoy it. It may be a gardener’s pleasure, but it is certainly not a duty, to keep everything alive year after year.
Then we came to London, and now take for granted that cafes have tables on the pavement all year round and most pub drinking is outdoors – things unheard of a generation ago. So yes, it’s got much warmer. Is it global? Is it our fault? Is there anything we can do about it? However sketchy the evidence, vox pop says yes. What would it have said if the predictions of the ’80s had looked likely to come true?