The cold turn the weather has taken is bad for trade. In fact, it is a thorough all-round nuisance, since I have loads to do in the garden for the rest of the week, and need to check the bees for swarming, only it is not warm enough to open the hives. Today in the plant centre I wore my fleece hat for the first part of the morning, and by mid afternoon was back in the NCP car park attendant's coat. The wind blew incessantly, drying out the pots so that my co-workers will have a lot of watering to do tomorrow. It is windy now, a bottom-end six in the gusts round the showers.
Somebody rang wanting to send a magnolia in lieu of funeral flowers. Once I'd understood that she wanted a plant delivered locally, rather than sent by mail order, the conversation became much less incoherent, and I managed to find a specimen of the variety she'd chosen. She wanted a card to go with the magnolia. I suggested a photograph of a fritillary, whose nodding head and muted colours seemed suitably restrained but also beautiful. She e-mailed us the message to go in the card, and I copied it out in my best handwriting, and explained to the gardener who will deliver it the importance of making sure it got there before Thursday. As he is a quietly competent and kindly man, and lost his own father-in-law quite recently, I'm sure the delivery will be fine.
Another customer rang about a white Cercis siliquastrum the gardener delivered this morning, wanting to know who had sent it. I had another incoherent conversation, before grasping that he hadn't bought it himself, and wanted to know who had given it to him. I found the delivery book, but all it said was that it had been paid for by a third party. I explained to him that unfortunately our records didn't say who had bought it, and that he must have a mystery benefactor. He laughed, but went away puzzled.
A woman rang from Durham, who had fallen in love with Amelanchier, after seeing two growing on a slag heap. She didn't know how they had got there. I suggested that as the fruit were attractive to birds the seeds might have arrived that way. She wanted to buy herself a small plant, and wavered over the different varieties described in the RHS magazine before settling on Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Ballerina'. She told me that she had been given some money, and so didn't mind the delivery charge, but thought this was a wonderful way of spending an unexpected gift. The whole transaction took rather a long time, and I suspected that she wanted somebody to talk to. People who ring up the plant centre quite often do.
I have a slight cold. I've had intimations that a cold was lurking around for days, so am glad it held off until after the funeral, supper, and the anniversary party. The Systems Administrator had already got what sounds like the same cold, which is vaguely encouraging in that it remains slight, an ache and a snuffle. We will just have to sniff our way through tomorrow evening's Ayckbourn at the Colchester Mercury Theatre.