Mid-March, and time to prune the vast hydrangea at the front of my house. They are unfashionable these days, relics of the 1970s, but I love its huge, showy flower bosses, mine a lovely, unforced mixture of pink and violet.
The dog sits on the front step, waiting for me to finish and sniffing the chilly March air. It rained this morning and the cut hydrangea stems are damp and pliable; I push them easily into a plastic sack. Sudden sun shafts down before a brief shower blows over. Woman pass with prams, the wheels a quiet rumble on the pavement. I find an empty wallet beneath the bush and leave it on the wall.
Once the job is done the bush looks naked and undefended. Yet this is the sixth year I have done this and I know that within two weeks it will be bushy and green, and in June it will be glorious again.