March 2021: In the garden

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.

14 thoughts on “March 2021: In the garden

  1. Adriana says:

    Yes, I guess we all need to ‘count our blessings’ at times. A garden does bring much joy but it took me many, many years to realise that a garden is just a part of life, not the (almost) whole of it. Love the reflection of the flowering cherry in the pond and your reflections on life too Janna. Hope things continue to improve there for you and all of England, such a stunningly beautiful country – always thinking of you.

    • jannaschreier says:

      That’s funny that you have been on such a similar gardening journey. It’s almost as if you never have enough time for the garden and just want more and more time in it, but when you finally have all the time in the world, you realise the other bits were quite important too! Everything in balance and moderation! And yes, we should stop craving what we don’t have and start counting our blessings about what we do.

  2. Louise says:

    Beautiful honest reflection on life especially during a pandemic, the ebbs & flows. Hopefully you are through the worst of it. Luckily you’ve had that amazing property to take solace in. Beautiful photos! Thinking of you.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thank you, Louise. What would we do without our gardens? I’m definitely feeling that there is light at the end of the tunnel here now and it feels good to be through winter. Now I just need to work out how I can visit Australia in the next year!

  3. rusty duck says:

    Newborn lambs are just wonderful to watch. And what could be more grounding than having nature around you over the last year – creatures that carry on oblivious to the huge changes happening in our world.
    I have tried several times to get fritillaries to grow, it never seems to work. And perhaps even if it did the pheasants would destroy them all anyway!

    • jannaschreier says:

      We’re so lucky having the lambs. Although I’m not sure it makes my gardening quite as productive as it might otherwise be! Our Percys haven’t yet found the fritillaries, but it can only be a matter of time. The deer ate them last year, but we’ve managed to keep them out of that area for the first time. Just not quite sure how to keep flying creatures away!

  4. roberta4949 says:

    what was that plant all green looking like fern of some kind? and the red flowers with black spots that are pointing down toward the ground (very pretty) and allthe baby lambs awwwwww!!! such beautiful plants you have. and what is that quail called, cant remember from my bird book.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Do you mean the winter aconite foliage? It is quite pretty back lit like that. The red flowers are fritillaries and the bird a partridge. But I agree, the lambs are the very best!

  5. Suzanne says:

    Happy (and beautiful) garden, happy animals (although I don’t share your love of sheep although lambs are cute!) and I hope by now, a very happy gardener. I love the look of fritillaries although I’ve never seen one ‘in the flesh’. How wonderful that you can grow them.

    Yes, I do agree that March is a funny month. In the Nyoongar 6 season year it is the end of Bunuru which is the second summer ie the hottest time of the year with little or no rain and dry, dry, dry. It’s a hard time to stay positive and I expect, although the weather in cold climates is quite opposite, it is similar to enduring the end of winter. The Nyoongars judged season change by what was happening in nature. I can’t exactly remember what the signal for Bunura is but I think it’s the flowering of marri (think honkey nuts). I wonder if our original peoples would recognise the turning of the seasons with the same clarity that they once knew?

    I’m still waiting to tire of this gardening lark but then again I’ve never been in a situation of not being able to socialise for months on end. I’m very happy for you that you are finally able to go out and about but I imagine that Prince Phillip’s death will put a bit of a dampener on the wind-down of lock-down.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Oh dear, and now poor Kalbarri and its cyclone. I remember visiting – what a lovely place it is. When we complain about the weather here (white with snow yesterday!), we forget how mild it is compared with places like Australia. I hope you are now through the worst of the dry though – really interested to hear all about Bunuru. How lovely to be so in tune with nature. Yes, poor Prince Philip and poor the Queen. It’s been a real awakening to just how much he did and just how little he complained. What a man. I met him in the 90s actually, so it feels even more real. He was so down to earth. I feel sad that we seem to be losing some of the values he stood for. But the garden is really beginning to come alive now, which is so welcome this year. And we have hours of fun watching the lambs’ antics!

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