So, there’s frilly lettuce, multi colour Swiss chard and some mini pumpkins in the basket. But no onions. Having finally got round to ordering my seeds for the growing season I find that Marshalls has sold out of my favourite Red Barron and Gold Fen onion sets. Serves me right for being so slow. But since spring seems at least a month early why am I two weeks later with my online ordering than I was last year? Is it because the seasons are all blurring into one?


Last year’s onions are still good enough to eat this spring. Pity I am too late with this year’s order…

Looking out the kitchen window, I can see the frogs are raring to go. But they have been popping their heads above water for months. In fact winter has never really arrived in the back garden. Snowdrops appeared about six weeks ago but geraniums have been blooming on the windowsill non stop since last summer and there are buds on the clematis, which means at any one time there are three seasons contradicting one another.

It doesn’t feel right. I obviously have a stronger puritan streak than I like to admit. Plus a romantic longing for the time when winter made frosty etchings on the bedroom window (inside!). My puritan says we don’t deserve to enjoy spring unless we have suffered some real winter. My romantic loved those few sharp days last week which made the stars sparkle and in February we even had one day of snow which kindly hid all the rubbish in really beautiful garden makeover. The hypocrite in me complains about the cold.

I do think that climate change is deeply confusing, not just because it fiddles with the mating timetable of birds and frogs but because it upsets our inbred responses to changing seasons.

However, today I am quelling my inner prophet of doom because the sun is shiningbeans through new pinky red leaves on the Cercidiphyllum, and my Marshall’s basket is full to the brim. This year I promised myself I would not buy more than I could possibly grow in the vegetable patch. But Beth curled up for a snooze on the pile of unsown seed packets from last year (so I couldn’t double check what I don’t need to order) and as always I gave way to the temptation of glossy colour pictures. I was going to get the courgette collection anyway (including the tasty pale green Lebanese variety ‘Clarita’) but I couldn’t stop myself clicking on Festival, which produces trailing stems for squashes the size of grapefruit (‘ideal roasted’) and carrots (carrots! I never manage to get them to grow bigger than AA batteries) because Sugarsnax 54 promise sweet roots ‘extra high in beta-carotene’).

Even so I have still managed to clock up a smaller bill than last year: the 2006 veg and flower seed total came to £46, this year it is £31.8. Not so good for Marshall’s – and I will have to get the onion sets from somewhere else.