HANNAH FINCH: Snow flurries and hard frosts meddle with plans
BRIGHT blue, sunny skies and a piercing wind make the best of spring. It has been warm enough to enjoy pools of new light without a coat these last few days.
But this welcome turn comes late to my garden where snow flurries and hard frosts have meddled with my plans.
New growth has been left sagging, daffodils flattened and hellebores ripped to shreds by a biting easterly.
Promising clematis shoots have been knocked back.
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It is yet to be seen whether they will recover.
I am annoyed now that while I thought I was late to cut back last year's foliage it turns out that I was actually too early.
My neighbour told me she hasn't yet the heart to inspect the damage to her garden.
She says that, back in the autumn, she thought it was strange that the squirrels were hiding caches of peanuts for the winter ahead.
"They knew," she said.
Most people I have spoken to say it has been an unusually long winter.
Anyone with an open fire will know there is a shortage of good dry logs because of the prolonged cold spell.
And yet, there is so much hope caught up in these bright new days.
Every surface shines, even though dust coated windows and dirty greenhouse lights.
I have had to look hard to find developments in the garden since last week.
All new growth has been arrested by the chilling winds and frozen earth.
Growth has been distorted in retreat, stems buckle in retreat and tiny stems have withered away.
The juvenile meristems don't have the maturity to withstand such freezing rigours.
But while some plants are hankering down, others stridently walk their own path.
Like the ferns I have in my garden — the natives Asplenium scolopendrium and Polypodium vulgare.
These ancient species of the botanical group Pteridophyta have a peculiar method of reproduction.
So while you would expect your flowering plants to drop their seeds by the ripening heads of autumn.
These spores are ready to go now — if conditions are right, they will grow into tiny heart-shaped plantlets which will in turn fertilise each other and create adult plants.
It does work — there are young plants all over the garden which must have arrived by this method.
When they are older and more established, I will move them about to create a soft green carpet in the garden's shady and moist areas.