Quattro Stagioni

Yep, my garden at the moment could be described as that classic Italian pizza, the quattro stagioni.

quattro-stagioni-pizzaThere are sections that represent each of the four seasons of the year. But obviously the patio isn’t fringed with a stuffed crust and no one sidles up to me, armed with a badly tuned guitar and a bucket of flaccid, imported flowers, suggesting a ‘rose for the lady’ or enquiring about my need for ‘black pepper?’ or ‘Parmesan?’ Well, not recently and definitely not whilst I’m turning the compost heap.

A little like the quattro stagioni pizza’s artichokes (spring), tomatoes and basil (summer), mushrooms (autumn) and ham and olives (winter), my garden plants have decided to exhibit a year on a plate. We are tucking into autumn and the garden is all over the place.

cyclamenAutumn it is and autumn it looks. Ornamental cherries are just about hanging onto their gorgeous autumnal coloured leaves and cyclamen, dainty little hardy cyclamen, are beginning to smother the soil beneath the camellias. It’s a comfort to know the gardening cycle is turning with perfect timing. All the cogs are oiled (extra virgin olive, of course) and running as sweet as a noce.  

snowdropsHowever, winter isn’t too far away. I have hellebores in full bloom and even, remember it’s early November, snowdrop shoots poking up above the soil surface. Snowdrops aren't supposed to be entertaining me until deepest winter. It’s a variety called ‘Fred’s Giant’ so maybe it has to steal a march on smaller growing types? Whatever it is doing, it feels too early.

primroseBut if winter isn’t your thing then my primroses will lift your spirits into next spring. Beautiful yellows already popping up all over the place. Usually they carpet parts of the garden in April. Ordinarily. Still, only four months early.

rosePhew wot a scorcher - summer is still sizzling on. Roses in delicate hues of pink still adorn many rose plants in the garden. Nuzzling up to juicy hips. Pina colada anyone? Penstemons are still budding and the weeds - don’t talk to me about the rate of growth of that lot. Even fresh bindweed shoots are swirling and curling their deathly tendrils in the hedges. Pass the factor 50 will you?

But I guess the odd plant throws up random flowers occasionally. My dwarf lilac forced out another flush of blooms a couple of weeks ago; a friend’s strawberry plants are in full flower in his garden, in deepest Derbyshire, and my own diascia is blooming away in complete ignorance of the calendar. The strawberries won’t set, the diascia will cop it when the frosts penetrate and the roses will fade to a slimy mush. The snowdrop better had burst forth with enormous blooms as that plant cost a small fortune. Nessuna pressione, my friend. As they say. Somewhere.


But the wildlife is spot on. A squirrel is digging and burying wherever he/she can. The robin is tussling with other wild birds when defending the bird table currently groaning under the weight of fresh bird food. There’s way too much for one robin so share it out pal. Pronto. The pigeons are planting themselves on the shed roof with a thud, beadily studying the sprouts and then flapping away with rusty hinged wings. Even the hedgehog poo has disappeared so he/she must be thinking about hibernating. Or is pooing somewhere else.


I know that things will calm and plants will stop. The cold weather will arrive (‘worst winter for five years’ being forecast) and autumn will slide into winter which in turn will awaken from its slumber into spring and blossom through to summer. I guess I just need to enjoy the anomalies. Embrace them as I would a free prosciutto-wrapped grissini breadstick or gratuito tiramisu - simply because…well, sometimes life is like that.