The North Wind Doth Blow; And We’re Still In The Garden. Keep Warm!

There’s an old rhyme that goes: “The sun’s still shining, the rain’s still raining, the grass is growing, it’s not yet snowing” … actually, I made it up but you get the point. Those who have already put away their lawn mowers may be wishing they had waited a little while longer as rain followed by sun followed by more rain has edged those green tendrils ever upwards even though it’s pushing towards December.

Of course, it doesn’t stop the cold. Temperatures have dropped suddenly, dipping to lows only rivalled by Adam Sandler’s recent career, and Jack Frost has been not so much nipping at your nose as serving it up with some Italian beans and a lovely wine.

So what do you do? My erstwhile gardening chum and consultant, Brody, mentioned the other day he’s having to wear gloves pretty much 24/7 at the moment but gardening gloves are not that warm and to use his erudite turn of phrase, “It’s ******* freezing. He has a way with words does Brody.

I know Drew dealt with this subject last year, but let’s be honest. Winter is an annual event and it’s my turn. So. Here’s a quick guide to keeping warm in the garden while you finish off your jobs for the late Autumn and start to think about next year.

1. Keep on Moving.

Clearly, this is not the time to sit back in a deckchair or slowly and idly weed the vegetable plot as you hum something from La Traviata.  As sadistic PE teachers have been telling us for years (as they sit in a warm car while you run around frosty fields in shorts) exercise keeps you fit and warm. Brisk is the word (turns out it’s not Grease) so move a bit faster, work a bit harder and get that blood flowing to warm you up.

2. Don’t Take a Nip If There’s One In The Air.

Even if you see a friendly St Bernard heading your way, carrying a traditional cask of brandy under his fluffy chin. JUST SAY NO! Alcohol may make you feel warm but in reality, it actually causes your core body temperature to fall. OK, you’re not in a snowdrift but in your garden or plot so fatal hypothermia is not too much of a worry, but it won’t help you get warmer in the long run and it’s dangerous anyway, particularly if you are using garden machinery.

"You can look as mysterious as you like Fenella, those leaves won't sweep themselves up"
“You can look as mysterious as you like Fenella, those leaves won’t sweep themselves up”

3. If You Want to Get Ahead, Get a Hat… and Gloves, Scarf, Jacket etc

A good hat will help keep you properly warm. Something woolly is always good and nowadays you get fabulous hats which combine traditional woollen knits with weatherproof and very warm thinsulate,  which, as the name suggests, insulates you properly against the cold. You can also get gloves, coats, scarves and even jackets made with thinsulate these days. It may not be haute couture but it’s warm as toast that hasn’t been left to go cold. Gloves are essential. If you have gardening gloves, fine but they are not warm, so wear a pair of ski-ing inner gloves inside. These allow movement but will keep your hands nice and snug.

4.Warm Boots, Warm Socks, Warm Feet.

Good boots. Essential. Freezing feet is the first thing that will make me abandon the garden for the comfort of a sofa, a box set and a hot toddy.  I’ve never understood why people wear old-style wellies. They are SO NOT WARM! Don’t be like Napoleon’s army, the German army and many others and let the cold front be your Leningrad, Waterloo or whatever.  Make sure you and your troops (if you have any ) have good, warm, waterproof boots and thermal socks! When it comes to boots,  I like the look of these Muckmasters – like wellies designed by Dyson.

5. Eat Drink and be Toasty.

Hot food, tea, hot squash, soup;  a regular supply of hot food and drink will keep you going and make you feel warm as well as keeping you hydrated and fueled for the work you have to do. A good vacuum flask is the gardener’s friend and here are ten of the best as chosen by the Independent.

So that’s it.I know this is a bit sensible for me, but I have stood in the freezing cold on many occasions, usually involving skis or a horse and I know the value of having good equipment and warm clothes. As the great walker and writer A. Wainwright famously said… “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” And he was in thLakeke District, a place which must feature more warm clothing than the catwalk during Alaska’s Fashion Week   See Ya.   Holly.


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