Friday, 19 December 2008
A blaze of winter sun slants under a curl iron clouds and highlights a bent frame stooped over a taught line on the ground. I am working my way slowly backwards, scoring regimented drills in the soil a trowels width apart. A Green Woodpecker jerks back my wandering thoughts, an explosive call repeating across a calm sky, moments later two Waxwings fly over, their shrill calls are unmistakable. Unfortunately they don't stop, and I watch their small silhouettes disappear over the far buildings and under my breath I quietly urge them to return. These striking birds from Scandinavia drift south in hard winters seeking out berry crops. Despite the fact that that it is December, and for me at least, the last working day of the year, we are sowing a wildflower summer meadow,which was a huge success last year. In fact it won us a very smart Tivoli radio when our letter was published in Gardens Illustrated. Standing here on this table top of soil in winter, the warmth of the summer sun beating down on the back of my neck seems like a lifetime ago, a field of bright lozenger poppies sighing in the heat, a drone of busy insects over a haze of ripening seed heads. For two days a volunteer(Jessie), and myself hand picked all the dried seed heads, a back breaking task but so worth it.
The un-winnowed seed has been stored in the four corners of the Bothy. Books, charger leads, secateurs, gloves, random socks and other assorted objects of daily life have spent some time lying submerged in buckets of dusty seed, until today. Once winnowed, the fine volcanic black poppy seed feels icy cool when a hand is pushed into them, and falls away from the fingers like loose silk when removed. After sowing comes the waiting and the hoping, that and a combination of luck and decent growing conditions will help bring a flood of meadow flowers to life.