I’ve had a cough or a cold for nearly six weeks now, which has severely curtailed the amount of gardening I’ve been able to do. Consequently I feel desperately unhealthy and just a little bit sorry for myself. Him Indoors, who says I am incapable of relaxation and despairs of the restless patient I am, declared that I was not allowed out in the garden this weekend. “Those are the rules” he said, firmly, “sit down and do nothing for a day, it will do you good”. I coughed back pathetically, too exhausted to argue. Feeling rather like a child that’s been told to stand in the corner, I searched for the loop-hole in “the rules”. “Not allowed …… out …… in the garden ….. this weekend”. Hmmmm, let’s think. No mention of staying indoors …. and is the greenhouse technically in the garden, or sovereign territory? The alternative being the Archers Omnibus I was prepared to do anything to get out in the fresh air.
With Him Indoors on his Sunday morning bike ride I snuck out to Polegate Cottage, quietly sliding the greenhouse door to one side, and entered the calm, cosy world inside. The roof ventilator was already open, the first time I’ve noticed that happen since November. The faintest scent of paperwhite narcissi, their flowers just beginning to unfold, mingled with cyclamen, geranium and damp compost. There is surely nothing more comforting on a cold winter’s day than being sheltered under glass and surrounded by leaves and flowers. Unlike the hardy sorts outside these plants are utterly dependent on me for water, food and maintenance. But I’ve been treating them mean. Being uncertain about the long-term future of the greenhouse I have chosen not to heat it this winter and to see what happens. So far fuchsias, echiums, aeoniums and begonias are looking pretty chipper, whilst the first sweet peas are beginning to poke out of their plastic pots. In a few weeks I should have quite a display of tazetta narcissi, having planted four different varieties in the autumn.
Of course it was too much to think that my cunning plan would go undiscovered. I was spied, without my coat and scarf (shock-horror), and ordered back indoors. I allowed myself a little smile when it dawned on me that the only time I stopped coughing and sneezing all morning was during my 30 minute sojourn in the greenhouse. More proof, if it were needed, that gardening and plants are nature’s best tonics.