Shrubs and climbers for cutting
Two daffodils I’ll never grow (and two I will)

Snow, bears, spruces and Zimbabwe

Hamamelis,Pallida,snow. Image © (all rights reserved)

Now back in Pennsylvania, where some surprises (good and bad) awaited me.

Firstly, we’ve just had three or four inches of snow which has weighed down and smothered the snowdrops but given extra charm to the witch hazel. Its temporary beauty almost, but not quite, makes up for it not being what it was supposed to be (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’) and so having no scent.

Secondly, just a few hours after I got back yesterday, a noise alerted me to a black bear rolling a bird feeder around the deck and getting the seeds out. We banged on the window and he made an unhurried retreat. A few hours later, another noise - he was back lapping up the spilled seeds. You know you’re home when there’s a black bear on your deck.

Thirdly, most of the needles on the three spruces outside my window have turned brown while I was away. Not sure why, but the trees are now far more brown than green.

Next, a copy of the new book, The Living Garden, from the excellent Irish garden writer Jane Powers was waiting for me. I’ll be reviewing it here when I’ve read it. One thing immediately strikes me, on a bleary flick through before collapsing into jet-lagged sleep. Each chapter is launched with a quotation, a thing many writers do, but her choices are especially thoughtful. No great dollops of Gertrude Jekyll, thank goodness, but there’s the wonderful Welsh poet R. S. Thomas:

“Out of the soil the buds come,
The silent detonations
Of power wielded without sin.”

Lastly, I’d listened to quite a lot of the radio news coverage on Libya while I was in England and never heard one mention of Zimbabwe, the former British colony where the atrocities committed by President Mugabe were certainly as appalling as those of Colonel Gaddafi. But, driving home from the airport, I was surprised to hear the lack of action on Zimbabwe promptly discussed on the otherwise pale and unremarkable public radio news.

More snow forecast for tonight. I wonder when the hellebores and snowdrops will emerge…

LATER (17 April): Last night's torrential rain and vicious winds finally ended the very very long display from the hamamelis. Snowdrops have come and gone, hellebores are almost at their peak.


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