Spring Has Sprung

It must have done. I’ve actually spent a few hours in the garden and uttered the immortal phrase, “There’s some real warmth in that sunshine.”

Before I got out of bed this morning I heard the first peeee-wit call of a lapwing. Then, hanging out the washing, a bumblebee flew past. Later, as I started clearing away the autumn leaf litter I uncovered ladybirds, baby slugs and a frog. Tree sparrows and blue tits are still fighting over control of the nestbox whilst elsewhere in the garden other species are already laying, incubating and raising their first broods of chicks. Activity around the bird feeding station always becomes frenzied at this time of year because it is an easy source of food for adult birds trying to keep energy levels high enough to go out hunting for fresh food for their babies.

Removing the leaf litter also uncovers the new growth beneath: horrors (weeds, snail crèche) and glories to come. The red, asparagus-like shoots of peonies pierce the earth alongside pale spears of flag iris, green sprays of cirsium rivulare (a raspberry-pink thistle popular at the Chelsea Flower show a few years ago) and everywhere self-seeded Lady’s Mantle. I love the acid-yellow plumes of this perennial and feel sorry for all the seedlings I end up removing. But otherwise the garden would be full of them and nothing else.

When we first moved in to our house in 2000 I planted half a dozen giant alliums and a good handful of allium christophii, along with five Alchemilla mollis. Removing the crisped, brown foliage of the alchemilla today I had to be careful not to cut into the pale green shoots of allium, but exposed them so that they could feel the effect of the sunshine and hopefully encourage stronger growth. The allium foliage is nondescript and benefits from the fan-like furled leaves of alchemilla, the flower spikes with their globes of purple, metallic stars towering above. The colour combination of purple with acid-yellow/lime green is a particular favourite of mine and I have it repeated elsewhere in the garden. 

Spring is sprung / The grass is ris / I wonder where the birdy is / Why there is is / Upon the wing / Ain’t that absurd? / I always thought the wing was on the bird. Anonymous, Spring In The Bronx

My late father-in-law loved this little rhyme and used to do it in an American accent pronouncing bird ‘boid’.