Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Profusion of Primroses

Spring is here! The weather has become milder. Daffodils, ‘Tete-a Tete’, ‘February Gold’, and our native ‘Van Sion’, are all perfect - glowing with sunshine - and not, as is the case some years, battered by storms. There are other spring beauties flowering too; helleborus orientalis, the Lenten Rose, is a lovely, velvety, maroon, with an almost white centre. The crocus tomasinius are almost gone over - new ones have emerged in palest lilac-blue from beneath an elder bush - I hardly remember planting them - a welcome surprise!

A profusion of primroses are flowering, along with the small starry blue flowers of variegated Periwinkle minor, and the first bees have been visiting them. Dandelions and daisies are a cheery, welcome sight – they are such lovely weeds! The willows are all in bud, the silver-white buds lighting the bare brown branches.

The birds are calling and singing throughout the day now, as they feed on peanuts and gather any spilled seeds our ducks might have left behind.

I was fortunate to see a goldcrest today. He was announcing spring from the fuchsia hedge beside me as I tidied the raised vegetable beds; an insistent song almost too enthusiastic at the end. They are here every year, across the river in the fir trees, but they are most heard from a thicket of silver birch and rhododendrons. We often hear their song, but rarely see them.

The first lambs of the season arrived in the village on Saturday. Our neighbour pointed them out to me, on the hill at the back of our cottage; twins. We were anxious for them as the season is early but they are hardier than you might think and the ewes are good, attentive mothers. They become stronger and more playful with each passing day.

Frogspawn has appeared in our drainage ditch over the past two nights. They seem to lay around the 20th Feb. every year. Some nights we can creep up quietly and hear the frogs “singing” and splashing in frog heaven. Then, next morning, there are the half-submerged black-spotted glistening eggs we are so familiar with from our childhoods.

Our only laying hen and a newly-matured duck have started up this week – the eggs are most welcome – by the way a duck-egg is perfectly boiled at seven minutes.

We are still missing ‘Prince’, as he was such a part of our everyday lives, involved in everything we did with the garden and poultry. He is with us in spirit.

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