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  • Writer's pictureAmanda

On frost and failure

Frost. Freezing, white, brittle frost glittering in the winter sun. Ethereally beautiful, stealthily injurious…

Really hard frosts are a rarity in my garden. Not only do I live close to the centre of London, but am also lucky enough to have south- and west-facing garden walls. Along with the house and a couple of neighbouring trees, these serve to create a microclimate within a microclimate that cocoons my patch from the vagaries of the weather.

This can make me rather blasé about what I can and can’t get away with when it comes to the gardening calendar.

So when I hear that temperatures are set to drop below freezing, do I dash out with the garden fleece and tuck up my tenders snuggly? Um, no.

It means that in my complacency, I will inevitably have done for my lovely swathe of chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus); that the artichokes I grew from seed (and attentively potted on with the intention of planting up and protecting over winter) will probably have floundered, and as for the pots of chilli plants I left in an open cold frame (oh the irony)…? Well, I suspect I’m off their Christmas list.

It’s a timely reminder that even in the most forgiving of gardens, nature has its own rhythm; it will just get on doing its thing, and isn’t at all bothered if you’re too busy (or blasé) to intervene.

But that’s OK. It shouldn’t make us a slave to our gardens.

For me, mornings like these highlight the folly of constantly striving to control the uncontrollable; of doggedly devoting our energies to combat forces that aren’t always working in our favour.

Gardening is such a positive, joyful, optimistic occupation it would be a pity to turn it into a chore; another source of a niggling sense of failure. Far better to work with what’s in front of you, in a way that suits you, and not to worry too much about the should-a, would-a, could-a.

Try to be prepared, yes; do what needs to be done when you can do it, but beat yourself up when you haven’t? Where’s the joy in that.


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