It may still officially be winter but it is a good time to get
out on a crisp sunny day to enjoy the displays of snowdrops, the
harbinger of spring, at West Dean. The award-winning gardens
re-open on 3 February after the winter closure.
Yes folks, it's official, Spring has sprung! How do we know
this? Not because we have passed some arbitrary date such as the
1st of March but because we are gardeners and are attuned to all
those subtle, sensory signals that silently but insistently say
"Winter is past, the sap is rising, it's all before you, a new
growing year awaits.
Chelsea week is the one time of the year that gardening
dominates the airwaves and takes centre stage in the public's mind
which is slightly curious because as any "real" gardener knows
gardens are an all year round obsession that occupies one's
thoughts and efforts for 52 weeks of the year . It is that constant
input and long term commitment that really produces the results and
offers the rewards.
The pear blossom was magnificent in March and April and now the
orchard is a riot of pink and white apple blossom with a carpet of
wildflowers including cowslips, dandelions and spears of blue
camassias adding to the palette. May is definitely 'Wild Flower
Month' at West Dean.
Well spring has certainly sprung and everything is roaring out
of the ground as if its life depended on it, which in a way of
course it does. This is a lovely time of the year, full of promise,
everything looking fresh in the first flush of its youth and as yet
unblemished by the vagaries of weather, pests or disease.
People often talk about good blossom years when the combination
of prolific flower production and perfect climatic conditions at
the time of flowering i.e. still, no hard frosts nor torrential
rain or even worse sleet or hail, all come together to produce a
display which is mind blowing in its intensity and over the top
profligacy. When that happens you are witnessing one of the best
bits of nature bling you could wish for and it's my impression that
the last couple of weeks have been one of those magic moments for
Who remembered that days of sunshine could be quite so blissful-
last summer seemed so long ago? We are actually working outdoors
without wet weather clothing for the first time in ages and are
really feeling the benefit.
It's official, it's been the wettest winter on record with 425mm
of rain falling so far this year - about 17 inches in old money. As
a consequence the mighty river Lavant is in fine form whooshing
through the gardens lickety-split.