When it comes to the weather gardeners are rarely happy. The last month has been a prime example. None of us could have imagined such fabulous weather, as most of the UK enjoyed glorious sunshine and cloudless blue skies for much of April. It’s the sort of weather most of us would be happy with in midsummer let alone in spring. But, in a month bereft of the spring showers with which it is synonymous, how many gardeners, whilst delighted to have ditched the layers of clothes in favour of sunhats and factor 30, were secretly hoping for some rain?
It’s a tricky one. The prolonged dry, warm weather has made it a spectacular year for blossom and magnolias and the lack of rain has discouraged many of the early forays of slugs and snails allowing young plants and seedlings to become established, which is no doubt a boon to time-strapped gardeners juggling the demands of spring sowing. But, if you’re a gardener, particularly one who uses social media, you certainly don’t want to be the first to sound like the party pooper. You don’t want to be the one uttering the words ‘some rain would be nice’, as everybody else rushes for the shorts and barbecues at the first sign they can shake off winter.
See, if you’re a non-gardener you can enjoy the sunshine and warmth with abandon. You don’t need to worry about the rows of seeds at the allotment drying out or tiny seedlings frying in the heat of the greenhouse. There’s no wrestling with layers of horticultural fleece as clear skies threaten newly planted out specimens and fruit blossom with damaging frost. No, you can sit back with that glass of wine on an evening and remark at the novelty of such blissful weather whilst your gardening neighbour is spending the evening watering, watering and watering some more.
Of course the non-gardener is probably staring out on to a patch of AstroTurf with bare walls or fence panels. There’ll be no crab apple tree covered in so much blossom it resembles a giant stick of candyfloss, butterflies and bees won’t stop by and the garden will be bereft of life. That doesn’t sound like somewhere I want to spend my time.
Sometimes us gardeners need to be reminded of why we weed, mow, prune and sow. That’s normally at this time of year when the frantic pace of spring can sometimes feel a little relentless and we’d quite like to pause for that glass of wine, but then we spot another tray of seedlings which needs watering. We do it for the blossom, the bees, and the butterflies. We garden for the joy a plant can bring, the voluptuous flowers of tulips such as ‘Verona’, the scent of blooms like Narcissus ‘Sir Winston Churchill’, the blue haze of forget-me-nots, and the satisfaction of producing home-grown herbs, vegetables and fruit. Gardening is hard work and the vagaries of the weather can give even the most sanguine of us a headache but it is all worth it in the end.