Hyacinth, Delft Blue, April 2002

Above: Hyacinth "Delft Blue"

Garden diary: March

17 April 2004

It's all buzzing out there now. Well, the bees are buzzing literally, and everything else is full of energy. I've been out there trying to be energetic too, when work and weather permit, and coming in at the end of the day wanting to report back, but too exhausted to lift my arms to type. (But not too exhausted to lift a glass of wine, while standing at the back door, surveying my efforts.)

I know that you have to summon up all your energies to make the most of the springtime and get certain things done in order to benefit later, so I've tried to see to all the essential tasks.

The green of spring is always astonishing, when you notice how fast everything grows. Each year it's the same, you're looking out on a scene that seems predominantly brown, then suddenly small points of green growth appear from apparently dead stems, and once they've started the growth seems to quicken daily. I've noticed it this year in particular with the apple tree, which, since the bathroom refurbishment is now visible from the landing, through the bathroom window, and so I see it every time I walk along the landing to go down the stairs to make a cup of tea (which is frequently). Each time it gets greener, visibly turning from bare branches to fat buds of blossom by the day, and begins to block out the previous view, of the houses behind. In winter it is very obvious that the garden is surrounded by houses, but by summer they're hidden by the branches of trees.

The cherry tree blossoms first, drastically pruned last summer, canker-ridden for years, but not caring about canker or anything else as it races into growth, its sap rising up the tree. The white blossom starts to open, today, on the lowest branches.

Hyacinth blooms brightened early April in pink and blue, too heavy for their stems. Tulips I didn't know I had appear near the pond, forming promising buds, while some of the tulips I bought in autumn look like they won't flower - just pots full of leaves at present.

The Akebia quinata is turning thuggish again and sending out tendrils, while its new leaves flutter in the spring winds, perfect new green.

When gardening last week I found small frogs, from last year's spawn, hiding under the bricks that edge the raised bed. I didn't think they would have survived the winter. Two of them were a similar size, but the third was tiny.

A blackbird - possibly the old resident male who I thought had been usurped by a younger one - has been doing that strange courting dance to a nearby female blackbird, who was more interested in the food on the bird table, while the male bird displayed his fine plumage, in determined fashion. It seems to have worked, as a female blackbird has been making several trips into the ivy, beak full of bits of long vegetation.

It must be some nest she's making, as the beakfuls are getting bigger with each trip. It's amusing to see her land on the wall at the end of the garden with these enormous collections of pieces of leaf and twig. These seem to be getting so big that she's now barely visible behind them, and has to land for a rest half way through the garden before continuing on into the ivy. If it carries on, I imagine her appearing with a whole tree branch in her beak, or perhaps a whole tree. The nest must be quite palatial, and it wouldn't surprise me to see her carrying a chandelier in there just to finish it off.

Back to April highlights and diaries


Tulip Queen of the Night

Above: Tulip "Queen of the Night"

Garden diary: May