‘Leonotus Leonorus’

I spent the day digging. Digging in the rain. Digging in the rain in my garden in England. At one point I did wonder, if I kept digging, would I really land in Australia? We grew up laughing that if you kept digging you’d end up ‘down under ‘ etc, but when I got to England (20 years ago)…I realised that that is an English joke. It’s really only ‘Down Under’ from here. SA itself is probably ‘Down Under’ from the Mid-West, or China. I looked it up. “Down Under ” in Chinese: “nan bian chang zhi mian ban qiu de ao zhou”. It doesn’t really have a comic ring does it? I imagine we’re called nan fei, SA, or just ‘Sou Arica’. Anyway, I was wondering about all of this while I was digging and then I remembered that I had brought some seeds back from my holiday in the Cape, and that they were still tucked away in a little washbag upstairs. Before the biodiversity police step in, I’m a paid up member for the protection of South African biodiversity and I even signed the online petition against Australia trying to steal the generic name ‘Acacia‘ from us, so please allow me a few SA specimens in my garden to remind me of home. Double whammy though, my seeds were Leonotus Leonorus. Try that on customs. Better known as Wild Dagga.. I am suddenly wondering if this is the kind of thing that gets you into trouble as a blogger?! Is someone going to out me as a biodiversity terrorist crossbred with drug smuggler? Ouch. They would probably put me somewhere that doesn’t have a garden at all for that. I hereby promise to keep Leonora ( or whatever her name is, see? I’m such an amateur!) in her washbag. That should do it.

Anyway, the real message of today’s blog was supposed to be that when digging in the mud, and the rain, with a friend, I thought a lot about one of the greatest joys of living here, which is all the more glorious after the filthy winter we are having. The signs of spring. When those first green bulb tips start nosing through the brown, and the snowdrops are dangling little heads in great swathes of hopefulness, and buttony buds are on the ends of the trees, I realise that there are some things about England that I really love. Spring here is long, and it is a rush … a long rush to growth. The plants have so far to go from where they’ve come, to where they’ve got to get to by the time the sun is out. It is like a headlong race for survival , and it is spectacular. You have to look hard in January for reminders of these good things, but if you look hard enough, the first signs are already there.

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