I missed February – but not by much and I have a good excuse. Anyone who knows me well knows that the best thing in my life is my cat; a small grey and white tabby called Matilda who came from Battersea Cats Home two years ago. In November she went missing; I got her back last week, after she had spent three months living rough in Wandsworth Shopping Centre (the other side of the River Thames from home).
Her table manners were never good; I think her first owner had fed her from his plate and she never learnt the difference between cat and human food. My previous cat would go out on a hunting trip and return with mice, rats and, on one particularly memorable occasion, a duck. Matilda simply went into local houses and removed whatever was handy: a cooked chicken breast, filled pitta bread, sandwiches (chicken was a favourite, cheese and pickle not so popular).
I put warning leaflets through all the neighbouring houses and ate with a water spray on the table but never really cured her bad habits, getting wet was a minor problem when the prize was porridge, biscuits cheese or broccoli (yes, broccoli). But clearly this stood her in good stead for surviving on the offerings of Waitrose, Pret, GBK and the like.
Chris has rightly pointed out that this post is meant to be about my garden, not my wayward pet. Like many of us, my plants were a bit confused by February. At the start of the month everything was lying in wait for warmer weather and then, suddenly, it was summer. Just for a couple of days but it was enough to convince the kerria to blossom hysterically, the hebe to flower and the euphorbia to put on a spurt of pretty pink tips. Even the tulips poked their noses out of their protective leafy coverings; I hope they won’t regret such rash behaviour.
My witch hazel performed beautifully, on time. I bought it twelve years ago and, against all advice, planted it in a pot. I assumed it would outgrow its space and try to take over the garden within a couple of years. Instead it has behaved perfectly, growing into an attractive fan which delights me every spring and then forms an attractive screen throughout the summer.
The moral of which is: do what you want, rather than what you should – most of the time it will work.