Oh, to be in England
Now that April ‘s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
– from “Home Thoughts from Abroad” by Robert Browning
In 1845 Robert Browning was in Italy when he penned these lines. I was at school in Rhodesia, (Zimbabwe), when I learnt them more than a hundred years later. What is it that they say? Absence makes the heart grow fonder. And April is a very special month – not simply because it is my birth month but because the weather is improving, and the garden is springing back to life. The downside? Garden pests are waking up too. As I carefully examined the tender new shoots of my peonies I counted half a dozen teeny baby snails. Time to be heartless and start squashing them, it has to be kinder than slug poison! Also slug poison catches the natural predators as well – although if there were more thrushes and hedgehogs in the neighbourhood we would not have an excess of snails! See “Snail stomping” from April last year.