Thursday, 4 April 2013

Stripes and Stars

“We are an amalgam of many selves ....and sometimes one of them escapes,” writer and poet Dannie Abse said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning. I know how he feels. The dichotomy of a double life as a wheel spinner and a word spinner leaves you constantly pushing one part of you forward while pushing the other back, sliding to and fro on a strange see-saw. The word spinner had to win out over recent weeks until just before Easter, when the wool spinning half of me made its bid for freedom at the Selvedge Spring Fair. 

What would you call a friend whose life-long support includes aiding and abetting the escape of one’s woolly nature, helping for two whole days at the fair in central London, doing all the driving, and being your most enthusiastic saleswoman? An absolute star: that’s the term I’d use to describe friend Frances, seen here talking mega yarns with a Selvedge fair customer. There’s no doubt that our long tradition of going to fun-filled excesses with each other, started in childhood, is alive and well, and I certainly couldn’t do without her exceptional encouragement in all aspects of life.

Speaking of stars, the sun decided to make its way through the thick bank of clouds this week, bringing out some star performers in the garden. I can’t resist a bargain bag of bulbs and these strong stripy crocus were the result of a gamble with an unidentified bag from the garden centre last autumn. I was hoping they’d be Crocus sieberi, but instead these tall elegant flowers, like Frances, have goodly long stems on them. And, also like Frances, though they shiver at the cold they’re not defeated by the freezing winds that climate change is bringing to the East of England at the moment.

The Royal Horticultural Society is updating its previous report on adapting gardens for climate change, so if you’re any kind of gardener, do join their survey and let them know your experiences. Some 20 and more years ago it was predicted that climate change for the UK would bring us colder winters and wetter summers. That’s certainly been proved correct; let’s hope no more of those early forecasts come true since I for have had enough of bitter winds from the arctic keeping the ground too cold to plant in. I’m urgent for things to warm up as I’ve got trays of dyers’ Coreopsis, Weld and dyers’ chamomile waiting to go out, yet the greenhouse glass is still striped with frost every morning when I go down to feed the hens.

Yet frost or no, I’m kept smiling by the starry warmth of true friendship, accompanied by the stripey warmth of beautiful colours in the emerging spring garden. Here’s wishing you a week similarly warmed by the sharing good things.