When ‘February fill-dyke’ lived up to its name

PUBLISHED: 09:18 01 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:18 01 March 2018

Rain, rain, rain... February fill-dyke certainly lived up to its nickname.

Rain, rain, rain... February fill-dyke certainly lived up to its nickname.

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Should we be worried by topsy-turvy seasons, asks Rex Hancy.

The old term “February fill-dyke” was certainly appropriate last month. Every morning when assessing prospects for spring tasks in the garden there was too much precipitation to encourage me to take them on. All the water butts held in reserve to cope with summer needs could have been filled many times over. Not that every day was rain soaked but nothing seemed to be able to dry out sufficiently for work to proceed. Nor did the lazy, icy wind so often in evidence improve matters.

I must be fair. I remember our early years here when the garden had been carved out of an impoverished fallow field. Vigorous attempts to achieve a productive supplier of fruit and vegetables on home ground had to continue during the mid-February half-term break whatever the conditions. Frozen hands were the norm then in spite of strenuous activity so I am utterly convinced that we no longer experience such ongoing adverse weather.

What we do notice now is that the seasonal patterns of those times no longer apply. For the most part, bearing in mind that our own life styles have changed, we are not inconvenienced. In fact, we benefit. The real problem is seen in what we could call the confusion suffered by plants. Several of our spring flowering shrubs had advanced so far by mid-autumn that they expended their energies before the end of the year. A few rather sad flowers could be seen in January and February but the full display was impossible.

Does it matter if a plant flowers out of season? Should we not enjoy what is available whenever it presents itself? That is a reasonable attitude if the plant in question is an exotic which plays no part in the grand design of nature in this country. Those natives that support insect life of whatever form need to make their contribution when those dependent creatures are active.

On a more cheerful and positive note, now is the time to be noting the daily changes in the trees and hedges. As buds begin to open, so very slowly at first, we can see subtle differences of colour. A faint haze seen only in certain light suggests rather than states that the grand opening is upon us.

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