“Little darling, it’s been a long, cold , lonely winter,little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear”
(The Beatles, Here Comes the Sun)
Oli, our Building Development Worker, reckons it’s been an eighteen month winter: only a mild exaggeration. Nature the teacher, though, doesn’t sit around feeling sorry for itself, but is patient and resourceful. Flower buds wait; seedlings go-slow; and, as the leaves do not register on the trees , the wood pigeons show surprising cunning in getting through the brassica netting, and diversify their diet to include our red clover, and wild sorrel. It was beginning to look like we might have to follow suit, until this blessed week.
You can die of patience. The winter may have already dragged on too long for some gardeners’ friends: many frogs, newts and hedgehogs will have slept too long to wake up; bees’ supplies, too, run dry. Clare and Cathy have done what they can, and called an emergency wildlife gardening workshop at Hawkwood this Sunday, so local gardeners can take action to save some small souls as they rise exhausted. Maybe there is such a thing as society, after all.
After the burst of shine at the weekend, some souls are starting to stir. Woodpeckers are rattling around the adjacent woodland; a few bumbles, butterflies and hoverflies have waved at us in the glasshouse. Yesterday the soil thermometer in the Entrance Field struck six degrees, heralding the start of the growing season.
Some three months after we first began mapping the site, in 2009, Sean cantered into the building with an amazed expression on his face, claiming to have stumbled upon “the magical realm”. It turned out that this beautiful and mysteriously hidden hollow within the wildlife area had, in 1985, been dug out as a pond habitat for the endangered Great Crested Newt, with a small grant from the GLC and the blessing of their newt-loving leader, “Red Ken” Livingstone. Ken’s Magical Realm, as it has since became known, now homes the cob oven and fire pit; and is where Jonny has spent many a winter Wednesday, magicking the most elaborate compost toilet.
The dramas of London’s history echo even through its gardens. If you stroll down the hill from Ken’s Magical Realm, you soon reach the newly developed and freshly named strip at the top of the West Bank terrace. On Tuesday, we sowed clover and planted early potatoes at Thatcher’s End. Tamped the dirt down.
Here comes the sun. Doo doo doo doo.