It’s been a funny old month. Not the easiest in many ways.
We’ve had disruption from ongoing works which should have been long finished and lockdown is starting to take its toll. It’s five months since we’ve shared a meal with family and even longer since sitting down with friends.
We’re used to having visitors coming and going here all the time and of course, coming and going ourselves most days. And as much as I love this place with all my heart, I’ve learnt that a garden is not enough.
It’s been quite a surprise to learn this. I didn’t think the day would come when I would wake up and think, “really, more weeding?”. But we need variety and interaction in life, smiles and hugs from others.
And I suppose I’ve done all my favourite jobs in the garden. Getting to the gazillion ground elder plants on the boundary, day after day, perhaps was never going to enthral me.
I could have started more exciting projects, but I don’t want to create a garden which is only sustainable by my one pair of hands during a life of lockdown. Better to build it slowly and keep it manageable.
But, of course, there is always solace in the garden and in nature, if you want to find it.
This last week has seen the lambs arrive along three sides of our boundary. It’s hard not to feel uplifted when you open the shutters each morning to see their gangly legs and bouncy tails skipping along after Mum.
It’s so funny watching their behaviours and learning their little personalities. The most recently born not leaving their mothers’ sides whilst two-week olds test the boundaries, making a run for the other side of the field with their friends.
I’m sure you see the mothers telling them off or turning their back in exasperation. It’s extraordinary to think how similar in nature all species are. Is it them or us, who have it right with the levels of sophistication and complexity in our lives though, I wonder?
The deer are also preparing themselves for a new season. We’ve seen Daryl, with his now quite intricate set of new antlers, chasing young males, with much smaller antlers, across the garden at full speed.
We are down to just one twin now, the female roe, but she will probably be sent off too in fairly short order. Mum and Dad staking their ground for the new family this spring.
They are so used to me now, quite happily sitting on the ground nearby me as I work, yet to chase me off their turf. They and me alike, all part of the established furniture here now.
The smaller animals are also starting to come to life, although everything is a good few weeks later than normal. Last year the frogs and toads arrived in the first week of March, this year not until the 29th. We spotted the first toad spawn – spaghetti-like – wrapped in and out of the reeds, just yesterday afternoon.
There is something very reassuring about the continuity of nature. Sure as sure, the same cycles repeat each year, without any intervention from man. You may question it for a moment, but it always, always repeats, it always returns without fail.
The daffodils and cherry blossom are filling the garden with colour right now, appearing as if by magic. There’s something very special about such high impact plants which are entirely self-sufficient, bringing me more joy than a highly contrived, intricate border.
Although by summer I shall be craving more variety and contrast. Each season brings its own unique delight.
The deciduous magnolia are just starting to bloom; we have five different types across the garden now. A mass of bold white flowers brings relief to the long winter’s dark evergreen backdrop, but it’s close-up that you really appreciate them.
They must be one of the most beautiful flower shapes, perhaps alongside peonies and roses. But they have the edge, I think, for being so pure and simple. Not overly bred, just soft, voluptuous and perfectly formed.
And oh, that smell. Does anything beat that smell?
My other favourite at the moment are the teeny tiny pink violets that grow in the grass under the estate fencing. The perfect pink: not too pale, not too bright, not too sickly, just right. Perfect, perfect dusky pink that sits against their green leaves faultlessly.
And, oh, so small and delicate. Happy violets too. Each year spreading further and further in every direction. You can’t beat a happy plant.
So time to pull myself together and make me a happy human. Remember everything I have to be grateful for and that life will regain its richness once more.
Perhaps it is true, that sheep enjoy their simple lives, yet we need more complexity.
But with lockdown rules starting to be relaxed from this week and spring starting to unfold, there is everything to live for.
Thank you nature and my ground eldery garden, for keeping me grounded this winter.
And thank you to my little blog, for focussing me on the best bits around me and for connecting me to the big outside world during these funny few months.
Onwards and upwards as the world and the season open up at very long last. I will certainly appreciate every little moment, like never ever before.
My first taste of freedom, yesterday: a walk with my friend on the heath for the first time in four months, was nothing short of pure joy.