April – the cruellest month?

Today is April 1st and as I write it is sleeting outside. Ten minutes ago it was brilliant sunshine and I drove to work in a blizzard.

T S Eliot wasn’t joking when he said April was the cruellest month although he was talking about lilacs rather than seedlings. But our seedlings in the cold frames were tucked up under a little blanket of snow first thing.

The poor daffodils in the orchard are bowed down with the weight. They look like little penitents asking for forgiveness. The fritillaries, just out this week have jaunty little snow caps which look rather fetching and altogether jollier.

We’ve still got the scaffolders here, putting up the roof for the final bay of the orchid house. Rather unfortunately, they got the basis of the scaffolding up last week before being called away to other jobs. No roof meant that poor George was exposed to all the elements. He had got slightly ahead, removing all the glass and inspecting and replacing any rotten parts of the frame.

The long and short was he and the glasshouse were slowly covered in snow and George had a strong resemblance to the abominable snowman. All is mended now; the scaffolding is covered; George is working snow-free and son the decorators will be back in.

It’s incredibly satisfying to see the work progressing. We should be able to start using the middle bay again soon for courses and exhibitions. Indeed I had Liz, Sue and Alison from the Embracing Wool collective in to see the space this week.

They and the rest of the collective are all textile artists working with wool and will be exhibiting their work and demonstrating the different methods they use in the Orchid House at the end of May. Definitely worth exploring.

Meantime, the garden is looking amazing. In spite of the weather which has rendered the soil impossible to work on for prolonged periods, everyone has worked marvels and there are only a couple of areas along the Hot Border and in the Clematis Garden that haven’t been given a thorough weed and a tickle of the soil.

There has been much in the way of lifting, dividing and planting going on. Quite a few new trees have gone in including one to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. As part of the Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC), we planted a spring flowering ornamental cherry Prunus ‘Shogetsu’ (Blushing bride cherry) in the Orchard.

We were delighted to welcome the Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Jo Ropner who undertook the planting with June and stayed on to chat and enjoy a cup of tea and scones with volunteers, staff and trustees afterwards.

Other new trees include a new apricot on the picnic lawn, a hawthorn in Alison’s Garden, two new cherry trees in the Secret Garden and a Cornus mas, (Cornelian cherry) in the Winter Garden.

They are part of the planting schedule for the garden this year, but they fit neatly into the ethos of the QGC, a unique tree planting initiative created to mark the jubilee.

Trees are a vital part of the environment and we want to plant as diverse a range as possible to provide an environment benefiting both nature and our visitors.

Admittedly, the trees are tiny and won’t be providing us with shade to lie under anytime soon. But they will grow on to provide a leafy canopy for our children and grandchildren and what better legacy can we leave than that?

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