In Bed With Mr Darling

I, like many people around the country, spent Wednesday afternoon listening to what may well be Alistair Darling’s last budget. What strikes me as possibly the most interesting aspect of the budget is the way it mirrors what’s happening in my garden, both in timing and content. To prune or not to prune , that is the dilemma, both for Mr Darling and my humble self. Furthermore, it seems we have both come to the same conclusion:

Sometimes the wise thing to do is not to do anything at all.

One political commentator noted that due to the state of the economy and impending election, it was a do nothing budget. Hear! hear! I agree and that’s just what’s happening in my garden right now. Spring is later than normal, (what ever that is) and several of my plants have sustained damage over the winter.

However tempting it may be to tidy up those apparently dead stems, the right thing to do is nothing at all, that is until the spring is well and truly under way and it becomes clear how far the damage has gone.

My hardy fuchsia dies back by a different degree each year and it’s only when it starts into growth that it becomes clear where to cut it back to. Several shrubs have been damaged in the same way including rosemary, Arbutus Elfin King and Callistemon.

One of my eccentricities is an irrational fondness for Cordylines, not I should add the fancy coloured ones that are in my opinion ghastly, but the plane green ones with thick trunks, spreading heads and wondrously scented flowers. There are some plants (not many) that have a quality of presence that immediately creates atmosphere.

I have found through experience that Cordylines suffer from two problems, horticultural snobbery and an infuriating variability when it comes to hardiness.

I have one specimen that has come through the winter unscathed but several others are looking very sad. I will be waiting until after the election to see if the growing point is dead or alive. If there is no sign of recovery by the time we have a shiny new government then I will cut back to within a few inches of the ground, in much the same way as I suspect the new chancellor will be pruning the public sector.

For now I will follow Mr Darling’s example and do nothing more than a little tinkering at the edges.

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