Chronicle January 2010 |All Chronicles

February 2010

Greetings once again to all my gardening friends here in the fair land of Sweden and wherever my chronicles are read. We’ve now entered the month of February 2010, which means that this website has been up and running for two and a half years. Whether you have been with us for a long time or are a newcomer to the site, welcome and thank you for visiting us.

Believe it or not, but today the sun rose at 07.05 and didn’t go down until 16.59, to be exact. In other words, we’re heading towards lighter days. I usually record my chronicles on a dictaphone while outdoors and get them typed up later, but I’m doing this one indoors, before a roaring log fire, with a lit old paraffin lamp on the table and candles burning here and there – a true shot of light in the winter darkness.

Laugh or cry, but this February in Sweden has broken all records – at least as far as I can remember. We’ve had an incredible amount of snow in the garden, for better or for worse (mainly the latter, I fear). At the same time as the snow covers sensitive plants and provides them with a protective blanket against the bitter cold, I’m worried that the weight of the snow is pressing down the plants, and I’ve already seen that many branches have been broken. My beloved box hedges close to the house have been pounded by heavy snow falling — an avalanche, if that’s not too dramatic a word — and I fear that the enormous amount of snow this winter has caused damage to quite a few rhododendrons. From the Arctic Circle down to the southernmost parts of this enormously long country (more than 1,500 kilometres), Sweden has been almost entirely covered in snow, the like of which has not been seen for many a long year. In quite a few parts of our garden, the snow is 70-80 cm deep, if not more.

February is the month in which my body begins to itch to get started in the garden, and it’s really screaming “Enough! We can’t take any more of this snow, ice and cold.”

It would be so lovely to be able to detect at least a sign or two of spring in the garden, but not this year, absolutely not. During all the 14 years in which we’ve lived in the house, I’ve never experienced such atrocious winter weather as this year.

I’m spending a lot of time out in the garden shaking off as much snow as I can, while branches that have been broken off by the weight of the snow have been collected, brought inside and placed in vases. I’ve done so with branches from pear, apple and magnolia trees, as well from common broom (Cytisus scoparius) bushes. With a little luck, it’s possible to have something flowering from the garden even in the depths of winter!

February is also a good month to prune many trees and, as I’ve just said, why not make use of their branches?

So, anyway, here I am, warm and comfortable in front of a blazing fire, but nevertheless longing for the spring and already attempting to plan the coming season. As a rule, I try to stay six months’ ahead in my planning, but this year — this February 2010 in Stockholm — all the bloody snow makes it difficult to even think of a garden.

It’s easy to buy and sow seeds too early in the spring, but at the same time it’s a welcoming sight to see all the seeds in the shops, since after all it’s usually in February that gardening feelings begin to awake. On the other hand (as you might have realised from this article), it’s not easy to write about a garden whilst it’s buried beneath a mass of snow. Nevertheless, the winter is continuing and so it’s best to make the most of it. Light a candle.

I’m now going to light yet another warming fire and get out my gardening books – it’s one way to keep the gardening spirit alive. I’m also beginning to plan all the visits I intend to make to other people’s gardens. So much can be created by sharing with all the wonderful people who are interested in growing and gardening. In this context, for me knowledge means wisdom.

So, dear friends, for your sakes I hope that you have been spared a winter of ice and temperatures of –20°C or so, but whatever the circumstances, be of good cheer, remember that spring will soon be knocking on the door, and keep your gardening dreams alive.

Just now I’m going to go out again to shovel away some more snow. How much fun is that?


A Gentleman Gardener