I’m a pessimistic gardener. Throughout winter, I wander around, deep in gloom wondering if anything will ever grow again. I convince myself that all is lost. But then in February, hope is restored as buds fatten and burst, and shoots make their way through the soil. My mood lifts and I can see a future for the garden.
Next, I have a love affair with buds: gasping with pleasure at crimson rhubarb shoots under their cosy cloche and endlessly photographing the fat Japanese quince buds up tight against the fence. I stroke the pussy willow; bring blossom prunings into the house to force them; and carefully skirt nascent bulbs. I wonder at the glories of nature – only to be disappointed again when they burst into flower. Bulbs especially are more interesting just before they explode into bloom for their few days of theatre, and then you have to watch as they die unattractively for ages in their shroud of sappy leaves.
Of course, a garden in full fig is a glorious place: blowsy flowers, gorgeous colours and heady scents, but I soon long for the mellow productive days of autumn (and after our usual dry summers – rain), and then for the structural shapes and seedheads of winter, when my certifiably volatile moods and the garden rigmarole starts again.