Monday, 2 April 2012

A Curious Beauty

Time locked potato, after the sea witch

Here we are. It is early April. The sun is shining spring is sprung and they are forecasting snow for mid week, (surely some mishtake? Ed).
I have gardened myself to a standstill. Sown spinach, calendula, leeks, more leeks, tomatoes, aubergines (they never do for me but I always try), cauliflowers, mangetout, sweet peas and cosmos. I have potted up my rooted rose cuttings (well, some of them) and my penstemon cuttings. I have been to the garden centre and bought lots of compost, and herbs and some borage seed.
Most things are sprouting like mad. I drove down the motorway to Bath the other day in the sunshine. By the time I drove back a couple of hours later the hedges were conspicuously greener. Looking around my own garden I’m always amazed that some plants hang on all through winter, struggling a little but basically ok. The moment the weather warms up they can’t hack it and turn their toes up, little roots not keeping up with the challenge of photosynthesis and transpiration. Or maybe it is just vine weevil.
Which brings me to a sad story.
Last year I tried to grow new potatoes for Christmas – but they got planted too late and then the slugs moved in, so that was a non starter. Then I noticed some shoots coming up in the polytunnel. Genius. Christmas volunteer potatoes (Red Duke of York, if anyone is interested). So one day when it got cold I dug them up, small but perfectly formed. Then I forgot about them. Then I bought them into the kitchen. And left them in the light so they were inedible anyway.
My poor spuds then entered the ‘I really should do something about that’ zone. Sitting on the sideboard. Red (well slightly green). Starting to sprout. I have just noticed one is trying to flower which is the saddest expression of optimism I have seen in a long time. It reminds me of the mermaids that get got by the sea-witch in The Little Mermaid and turn into wizened polyps, yet it is curiously pretty.
Also in the kitchen is a lovely big box of seed potatoes that just arrived from Suttons - including Charlotte, Rocket, more Red Duke of York, Purple Majesty and some others. I fear they are looking at the sad potato-mummies with something akin to derision. Or perhaps it is just terror. Either way, I get a completely different vibe from the David Austin roses that are sitting next to them.
So I am going to put this failed and abandoned experiment out of its misery. Send it off to the great compost heap in the sky. Hope springs eternal, but sometimes even hope is not quite enough. Perhaps it is art.