Ups and downs (and the meaning of life).

It doesn’t take long on this mortal coil to work out that success and a feeling of elation is destined to be followed almost immediately by the very opposite. It’s God’s way of keeping us grounded I suppose. And in a way He’s right…imagine how dull life would be if Arsene Wenger kept winning the premiership. Or Joe Root always got a ton. Or Mourinho accepted the ref’s decisions without complaint. (Sorry, ladies, if I’ve lost you.)

It’s the same with gardening. We get a dry February, a sunny March and a warm April and everything ought to be hunky dory. But is it? Is it hell! For a start it meant everything began early under the delusion that spring had sprung: grass started growing like the clappers, birds decided to begin nest building, blossom blossomed, buds broke before their time, dahlias poked their periscopes up. With the inevitable downsides of course: the mowing season began on February 5th, two of Westdean’s famous rooks decided to leave the rookery and construct their new abode in one of our chimneys, pigeons gorged themselves on the damson blossom, and we got two wicked late frosts that singed if not scuppered all that early season sprouting. It’s so unfair!

But it wasn’t all disaster. Rosie’s colour combinations for the terrace pots worked a treat. The flowering in the paddock lasted for over nine weeks. The cowslips are spreading. Some of our english bluebells have retained their virginity. And I have de-ivy-ed our beech hedge.

But I know that round the corner there are things lurking: lily beetles, aphids, snails, slugs, plagues of frogs, drought, tempest, monsoons, herons, kingfishers. Kingfishers? Come to think of it, I’d happily sacrifice a goldfish or two for the regular sight of a kingfisher here. Which goes to illustrate that every downside has an upside, that there are two sides to a coin and that on balance it’s better to be a glass-half-full merchant to get the most out of life. And especially gardening.