Spring 22: In the garden

I sometimes wonder if I left my heart in Australia when I moved back to the UK. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country of birth and wouldn’t want to leave it for now. But, (incredibly) some six and a half years on, Australia is still present, still there, still with me deep inside, on a day to day basis.

This year has not been an easy one. Covid, and long Covid, have taken it out of me. It’s been all I can do to get through essential tasks each day and activities such as blogging have been continually deferred.

Gardening, fortunately, hasn’t, and although patchy, I’ve treated it as the best possible remedy; to be taken at the very highest dosage whenever feasibly possible.

And what has got me here, finally writing, after a steady improvement in my energy levels over the last few weeks, was reading two articles today, both describing the joy of spring arriving, in Victoria and Tasmania.

Ah, yes. Spring. That’s where I’m up to with my blog. And feeling inspired, knowing it’s beginning to unfold on the other side of the world, I picked up my ‘pen’.

It’s funny looking back after all these months. On a day of 29 degrees, seeing photos of frost and bare trees. Another world away. But spring is a season that is easy to stir up emotions in me. 

It’s my favourite season of all. Not too hot, not too cold, just right. But even more so, it’s one of new beginnings, of hope, of freshness, of all to play for.

It’s also one that particularly suits our garden, I think. Like the Regency house that stands within it, it’s all of large proportions. Mature trees, sweeping lawns, and banks of bulbs that have naturalised by the thousands over the years. 

I think I’d take a single perfect cherry tree in blossom over the most intricate herbaceous border. Whether a native species or not, it just looks so right, so majestic, yet so pretty in the morning light.

The whole of spring just seems to come from nowhere. It arrives by itself. I didn’t plant the daffodils or the trees, the forget-me-nots, greater celandine or red campion. They all just came.

If that’s not a magical happenstance, I’m not sure what is. I love the flowers I have now, in August, but they are very much planted, very much man-made. It’s not the same softness as spring.

And, of course, our garden is really just the incidental backdrop. The animals are the star of the show.

Spring is the time for new arrivals. Baby hares, or leverets, appear by the cedar of Lebanon, little bunnies play on the top lawn and beyond, there is a field full of skipping lambs. The deer are fighting it out for territory over the coming season, in anticipation of their late spring arrivals.

And when the highlights of flora and fauna coincide, it’s then that I know I really do love my current home.

Harry’s morning ablutions in a sea of cherry blossom as I leave to take Paul to the station.

Or Daryl knee deep in the rising meadow, under the shadow of the flowering horse chestnut.

Of course, we need the other seasons to make us appreciate this one so well.

But it’s interesting looking back on time here in my garden. To be reflecting upon an earlier period, not writing about today. It provides a different outlook and perspective.

And allows me to more clearly pinpoint the highlight of that time. The one that has most tenaciously stuck with me.

It was early May. I recall sitting on my bright pink mat, weeding the edge of the herbaceous bed in the orchard. At that time of year, everything is growing full pelt – warmth and moisture in the soil and air.

A good task for a weak body, gently sifting the wanted seedlings from the undesired. And as I sat on the lawn, looking to my left and my right, dainty English bluebells stood proud amongst the unmown grass, that perfect blue and perfect green. 

It’s such a different experience, feeling yourself within the plants, rather than looking upon or at them. You feel as one with them, very much aware of sharing the viewpoint many of the garden’s residents experience each day. 

And the world slows; there is nothing beyond the field of bluebells. Lost in time, lost in colour, lost in nature and her beauty.

How could I leave this garden now? 

My heart is split. Or perhaps it’s duplicated. 

Yes, I think that’s it. 

I have one heart in Australia and one here in the UK.

How lucky that is, to have two.

19 thoughts on “Spring 22: In the garden

  1. Kate Seddon says:

    Janna. Such an evocative piece and I just love those photos of the skirt of blossom under the cherries. Sorry to hear of your long COVID and wishing you well for better health soon. Kate

    • jannaschreier says:

      Those photos were my favourite too! So often I can’t capture something so it’s lovely when it comes together. If only I knew why/how and could repeat! Thanks so much for your kind message.

  2. Christine Gascoyne says:

    Thank you Janna. You made my day. Yes Spring is approaching us fast here in Canberra and it is my favourite season. Do the hares cause much damage in your garden? They used to snip my young trees in half causing many tears.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Oh dear, that sounds a bit traumatic. A nibble on the odd leaf is a bit different to chopping lovely saplings in half. We love the hares and blame nothing on them! They don’t dig, of course, and seem to mostly just mow the grass for us. I have had one young oak severed at ground level and blamed the rabbits for that, but who knows? I now put tree guards up, which seem to work. Fingers crossed! Katherine said her hellebores and snowflakes are all out – oh to pop and see them!

  3. Jo Maxwell says:

    Wising you well Janna.
    I have happy memories of the day you visited my garden and Daffodil’s at Rydal, a small village in New South Wales, Australia.
    Best wishes
    Jo Maxwell

    • jannaschreier says:

      I remember your daffodils so well, Jo. Are they still thriving? So lovely watching them pop out of the ground and start to colour up. I loved my day in Rydal – what an event you organised. And thanks so much for your kind wishes.

  4. Adriana Fraser says:

    Winter is still with us in Victoria, especially in the Dandenongs Janna — I am holding out for spring. Rain, rain and more rain and more forecast what with the influence of the Indian Ocean dipole and perhaps the return of La Nina for the third time in Spring, but I won’t complain, as it is better than the alternative. I see some daffodils poking their buds up out of the soil and a couple blooming, our weather makes all flowering lag a bit compared to the ‘flat lands’. Janna, we always say how much we love England and its lovely greeness (perhaps more slightly worn after your hot summer) and how we could quite easily live in the English countryside. When we flew back into Melbourne airport 5 years ago after four short weeks in England I was staggered by the grey – green of the trees rather than the bright green of yours. In that short time I had accustomed my eyes to a different, brighter green. I felt real loss and dare I say it disappointment! It is always easy to think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence though, I guess. Your garden is absolutely gorgeous. I see very much has changed since our visit and yes I too would find it very hard to leave it. We are leaving ours soon though, moving in four weeks for another adventure, my knees got the better of me on this steep hill. Sorry to hear that Covid has attacked you again Janna, hope you are better and back to full health soon. XX.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Oh, gosh, Adriana. Starting a new garden again? I don’t know how you do it. But yes, I can imagine the thought of a flatter space is very appealing. Can’t have you not gardening day and night! I do hope the move goes well. I’m happy to hear you think my own little garden is coming along. Sometimes it feels very slow progress! But occasionally I look back at my 2017 photos and that is quite satisfying! I remember first visiting Australia (in mid summer) and thinking how grey/beige and it was; in a not terribly positive way. Yet as soon as I moved there I fell in love with those colours and didn’t miss English greens one bit. Paul gets upset if his lawn browns off in summer over here; it’s as if I like Australian tones more than he does. Perhaps that is the grass being greener, so to speak; I am able to engage more positively with a landscape I didn’t grow up with. Although I didn’t react that way when I lived in Malaysia. There is just something about Australia that captured me deeply.

      • Adriana says:

        Contrary to popular belief I restrict my gardening time to a couple of hours a day, a couple of days a day Janna. It would kill me otherwise and I wouldn’t have the time or the right weather. I am very much a fine weather gardener! I think too that you can have your heart in more than one place. I can relate to Paul — I don’t get upset about the grass but I don’t like my plants shrivelling in the heat of summer (not that we have had a great deal of heat the past three).

        • jannaschreier says:

          Wow, I can’t believe you only do four hours a week of gardening. I guess that hasn’t always been the case, not with all those paddocks you have transformed. And yes, I am trying to be brave with my very very brown garden at the moment. It helps so much, having gardened in dry old Canberra, to have faith that most things will survive.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thank you so much. In my mind, I was just mentioning in passing why I had been so tardy at posting – wasn’t expecting all these lovely, caring messages! Your kindness is really appreciated.

  5. Louise says:

    How lovely to visit your gorgeous garden again! I do enjoy your blog and was so sorry to hear of your recent ill health. I hope you are gradually regaining your strength. Those beautiful photos and adventurous animals. We have some rabbits that have made their home in our garden along with the blue tongue lizards. Last spring we saw little lizards and bunnies! I don’t mind them in the garden, they don’t destroy it too much. They just give me the occasional fright when I’m gardening. Understand your heartache for Australia! Take care, sending well wishes from Australia.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thank you Louise. It’s so special having your blue tongues. Gorgeous to see their babies too, I’m sure. You do well to be tolerant of the rabbits – they are not our favourite! But much better for our sanity to accept rather than fight. The problem with the lizards is that initial moment of, ‘did I see a snake?’! But it’s all good fun. Adds to the character and dynamism of our gardens!

  6. Suzanne says:

    Hi Janna, I was delighted to see you blog post in my inbox as I assumed that long COVID was taking it’s toll. So glad that you’re feeling somewhat better and are able to get out into the garden. Your photos are, as usual, just beautiful.

    Spring doesn’t have such a big impact in my garden as there is always something of interest flowering. In February and March things just tick along quietly, which happens also to correspond with the Nyoongar second summer of Bunuru. The pace picks up in April with cooler weather and the first rains and continues to build to a crescendo of flowering which can last through to December, before it starts to slow down and move into it’s quieter phase again. Hmm, crescendo is probably an over statement, a steady consistency would be more honest!
    I don’t miss having a big floral display. Just today I was looking at one of the last of three roses, which is flowering beautifully, and pondered what I could plant in it’s place. (All three are on borrowed time.)

    This is the Nyoongar season of Djilba, the first spring. It’s considered to be the start of the massive flowering explosion which starts here in the South West. Perhaps I need to work on that crescendo! Happy gardening Janna, take care. X

    • jannaschreier says:

      It’s funny how our tastes change over time. I think most people are first attracted to the likes of roses, dahlias and other showy flowers. And then, over time, almost everyone starts to appreciate subtleties and greens and more natural displays. I wonder if that is just a temporary fashion? Naturalistic gardens clearly are fashionable at the moment, although I think we’d like to think we were above following the herds!! It’s interesting, isn’t it? I remember an amazing native garden in New Zealand – only a lawn and single climbing rose that weren’t local. Actually the enormous clambering rose, covering much of the front of the house looked amazing – almost like part of the built architectural, but linking house and garden. But I can imagine with all your wonderful plants, you eventually want it all singing as one. That slow evolution is such fun! Thanks for your good wishes Suzanne.

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