There’s a day or two every February when the sun shines, the air feels warm, the wind drops, and one could be fooled into thinking spring has arrived. Today was one of those days. I will not be duped, as all too often these balmy interludes are followed by bitter, cruel cold. The buzzing bees and honeyed scent of aromatic plants may transport me to the shores of the Mediterranean, but this is Broadstairs not Brindisi, and it will be two months or more before we are beyond frosts’ deadly grasp. The only thing for it is to grab the secateurs and do some pruning, or crack open a seed packet or two (sowing under glass of course). The sun on on your back will make any task ten times more enjoyable and the sight of crocuses, early daffodils and irises, their flowers turned expectantly to the heavens, will lift the gloomiest of spirits.
The most unexpected plant I found basking in the winter sun was Fuchsia ‘Space Shuttle’, one of a handful of tender plants for which there was ‘no room at the inn’ before Christmas, hence it was left outside to fend for itself. Against all the odds, perhaps thanks to the shelter of a huge Geranium maderense (above), it has survived. I am not naive enough to assume the fuchsia has been spared but, just for today, I am happy to labour under the illusion that spring has sprung.