The January freeze has moved into my little back garden in Mt. Ephraim, so that means it’s time to put up the spade and fork, sharpen the pruning tools, watch the forecast, and pour through the 2019 seed and plant catalogues that were dropped in my mailbox. Being a bit of an “old school” gardener, I prefer something to hold in my hands and mark in pen, ink, and flag rather than the online digital versions that bring on eye fatigue and shout at me with discount codes that have an expiration of a fruit fly’s life-span.
The January winter temporal vortex this vicar has to travel is always a challenge. Your countdown app on the iPhone and iPad reminds you that Gardeners’ World returns to Britbox the evening of your birthday in just seven weeks! You’re in the midst of annual meeting minutiae, imagining the diocesan registrar frowning when they ask about the errors in your 2018 stats. The earth is “as hard as iron” and water “like a stone” (Christmas carol echoes). And the January social media from maritime climes like England show photos of winter blooms and 10C temperatures or a gardening podcast discussion from Northern Ireland of “no sign of winter yet”.
Life is tough in USA Zone 7.
The most beautiful catalogue by far is David Austin’s Roses. Not so much catalog but as the title says a Handbook of Roses 2019. This is the USA’s edition’s twentieth year. It has a literary quality to it with more than you asked for. It is an especially poignant one to have when you turn to the back of the handbook to “The Story of David Austin” knowing that the humble genius behind it all died recently on 18 December 2018. The handbook takes the complete rose novice through all the steps to becoming a fine rosarian. The coolest (forgive the Baby Boomer slip) is at the back in the pull-out index of blooms by color. Just seeing them all together makes you smile.
Two bare-root Claire Austins are on order to plant in our garden this spring.