Signs of spring

Tiffany Daneff / 25 February 2016

There are signs of spring in the Sheep Garden, but is it really the start of spring, or is there bad weather still to come?



Now that the wind has stopped slapping the phone wires and knocking the rooks about the sky a wonderful calm has come to the valley. Ruffled salmon sunsets bring on sparkly morning frosts but by midday the sun through the window calls me from my desk. I haven’t done much in the garden for weeks, mainly because it’s just far too cold but partly because various members of my family insist on falling off horses and breaking their bones. Which leaves little time for pottering.

Signs of spring

It’s not just the light and the warmth the sounds outdoors have changed. Instead of gales moaning around the chimneys there’s the busy whirr of the chainsaw. Up on the ridge a man is laying a long hedge. Each day the view changes as straggly ash and blackthorn are cut to the quick, though not quite severed, and then laid horizontal so that we can dispense with the ugly barbed wire that separates the fields which are now crowded with heavy ewes.

Walking around the fields I’ve spotted lots of old laid hedges with their bent boughs swollen into strange runic shapes. It’s good that they are being laid again.

In the garden snowdrops are almost over. Whether its as a result of my splitting some last year or whether it’s because I managed to keep down the nettles so letting through more light I don’t know, but their numbers have definitely increased. In the woods the first primroses are quietly appearing.

And I can see daffodil shoots in the lawn under the apple where, this time last year, I planted out the bulbs I’d grown indoors for Christmas. Question is whether they will flower at all well this year.

In the top garden I can see the first new shoots emerging. It’s only been a week or so that the sun’s bothered to come out and yet life is on the move. It is all so quick. 

Back to work in the garden

Suddenly I realise I need to get out and start doing stuff. Yesterday, for the first time, I spent half an hour weeding between the asparagus. Today, I cut down the dried spent heads of sedum to release the sappy new growth. I also trimmed the dead wood from the catmint and weeded the ground between the plants. 

The nettles are already two inches high and their roots are beginning to get a grip. The sage came through winter unscathed but the parsley, both curly and flat leaf, which kept us in soup and garnishes for months, have finally been finished off by the recent hard frosts.

This is the thing. The sun may shine, it might be warm enough to ditch the woolly hat and the thick coat but who’s to say that next week or next month won’t bring back freezing wet weather and threatening skies?

Find out how to care for a spring lawn.

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