Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Spring has arrived!

The white stars of Magnolia Stellata

There's something wrong with the weather! I don't think I can recall such lovely warm weather on St Patrick's day. What comes to mind is watching the Dublin parade in sleet, with the long bare legs of a Florida girls' marching band turning blue with cold.

Winter is behind us now, spring is accelerating, and summer will come in its own good time. I count myself so very blessed to live in the country in a land with seasons, where every spring day brings something miraculously new. Already the first green shoots are showing on elder and whitethorn in the hedgerows and golden celandines glisten in shady places, a foretaste of summer abundance. Birdsong surrounds me on my morning walk, and nesting has begun - today I saw a chaffinch fly off with a feather for her nest. And as I write I am watching my neighbour’s mare with her foal cantering around her.
Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai'

Another sign of spring is that I suddenly want to be out working in the garden again. I find it very difficult to work up enthusiasm to do so in winter, when so many jobs should have been done. Already the grass has had its first trim and manners have been put on the rambling roses. But now there is soil to be dug, overgrown beds to be cleared and hedges to be trimmed. Signs of spring’s advance are everywhere. The snowdrops and crocuses have been succeeded by daffodils, the snakes-head fritillaries are not far behind, and the tulips are poking their snouts up. The early cherries and forsythia are in full bloom, the first white stars have opened on Magnolia stellata, and the buds are bursting on the espalier pears.

Prunus subhirtella v Rosea

But we mustn't get ahead of ourselves: we still have two months to wait and prepare for summer – we might get a late frost as late as mid May to burn the shoots and ruin the fruit.

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