APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Well, spring rain there has been in abundance, but the dull roots haven’t been doing a lot of stirring as of yet. It’s just been too cold for the poor little things. Our show calendar, however, cares naught for such poetic fancies or meteorological realities, and so we have been out and about over the past month or so, despite struggling to find much that is looking good and in defiance of the weather’s best attempts to encourage the gardening public to stay at home in the warm.
Our first outing this season was over the Easter weekend, our usual three-day visit to Somerley Park for the Craft & Garden held there each year. Easter being early, the weather was less than kind: cold (though not as cold as a few years ago when the plants froze in their pots) and very windy. Storm Katy hit the south of England on the Sunday night and, come Monday morning, two exhibitors had to retrieve their mangled gazebos from two fields away! We were not that surprised, all things considered, that sales were modest, but we were impressed by the resilience displayed by our own gazebo, which took the worst of the elements in its stride.
The following Saturday saw us – or, rather, Rob, as Deb was otherwise engaged – in the familiar surroundings of West Street, Fareham, for a farmers’ market which was graced by some decent weather and enough interested passers by to make the sortie a worthwhile one for us. Conditions were not quite as kind the next Sunday when we set up our stand in the quadrangle at Marlborough College for the Spring Fair: it didn’t rain, as it did – horizontally – last year, but it was pretty damn cold and an icy breeze discouraged much in the way of loitering to admire the plants. But it was certainly better than last year, and for that we can be thankful.
Another market on Sunday the 17th, one of the regular Andover Farmers & Craft Markets, was our next port of call on an actually quite pleasant day (though the temperature never got high enough for Rob to take his padded gilet off). There was a good turnout of traders and the atmosphere was a lively one, but we continue to get the impression that the events aren’t as well known as they should be among the residents of Andover. A pity, as we like them and the setting by the Guildhall.
The final Sunday of April saw us head back up to Marlborough, and then beyond, climbing up on to the top of the downs to Barbury for the RDA Plant Fair, which is held in what must be one of the most spectacular settings we go to during the season. Despite its remoteness, enough hardy souls find their way to the fair to make it a highly worthwhile day for the various stallholders, and we drove back down into civilisation with a fairly empty van. The weather is remaining resolutely wintry despite the fact that May is but round the corner, but we cling on to hope that our big May bank holiday weekend events will prove sufficiently successful to offset some of the big early season bills that blight this part of the year. We will see.