We’re on course for the hottest December in 100 years, according to the Met Office, and that’s quite believable if last week’s temperatures and the behaviour of some plants is anything to go by.
By midday my mobile was indicating 14 Celsius, the highest temperature I’ve ever experienced this late in the year, and there was a media report of a 50 per cent fall in sales of electric heaters.
Images of daffodils blooming way out of season, and strawberry plants with large green fruits just short of ripening, flashed on television screens.
Locally, Adam the farmer tells me that his trough-grown crocus and daffodils are well advanced, and an oilseed rape crop is standing 30cm tall. He hopes for some cooler weather to toughen up the stem cells before February fill-dyke arrives.
The outstanding example of a season out of kilter here is a standard Ceanothus ‘Concha’ flowering for the second time this year. It’s only supposed to bloom in summer.
There will inevitably be a day of reckoning, but I’m enjoying the moment, free from the usual December greeting – “You won`t be doing much gardening at present will you?”
The question is understandable because at every turn there’s generally a reminder of how insufferable the weather can be. This more than anything accounts for missed opportunities over winter.
The daily forecast seems to be delivered with relish by one presenter after another, especially when rain, frost, snow or wind is in the offing.
A favourite carol, In the Bleak Midwinter, conditions us into thinking that the earth is hard as iron and water’s like a stone 24/7 until spring arrives.
And if you’re interested in poetry, there are several examples of why we should not set foot outside until winter has gone. A particular favourite is “The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow, and what will the robin do then, poor thing?”
I can tell you for certain that the robin in this garden does not sit in a barn all day and text for a takeaway meal. His/her daylight hours are spent searching for food to stay alive, either at the bird table or by my side whenever soil is being disturbed. And when time for sleep comes, he/she slips into the old nest built in summer, set deep in a wall-side ivy.
Of course, we can’t go out digging, weeding, planting and pruning every day of the week, especially when the land is really wet.
There has to be some relaxation over the festive period so my approach is to aim for a balance between necessary tasks and socialising.