If summer brings to mind old English roses, then springtime must be the month of apple blossom. By the first week of April we glimpse the bright red buds starting to unfurl.
I have never been so glad of our small patch of green space, for in this national lock-down it allows us to spend an unlimited amount of hours outside, together as a family, under the ceiling-less sky. At this time of year, the garden changes constantly and brings a natural rhythm to each day.
Encouraged by the sun, soon every plant starts to awaken. One morning we are greeted by bursts of tiny flowers in every corner, and the once-still air is starting to fill with insects and the occasional orange tip butterfly. We eagerly await a sighting of our first bumble bee.
On Good Friday, my second son plants the chitted potatoes into the vegetable garden. Everyone is able to help. My two autistic sons love playing with water so the elder fills a watering can and tends to the raised beds each morning, whilst our littlest son likes to top up the stream with the hose.
On Easter Weekend, we hide tiny chocolate bunnies and eggs around the garden. It is so beautifully warm that we have to hurry to find them and keep the discovered ones clustered in the shade before they melt.
By mid-April, the apple blossoms have opened and our house martins return to their nests in the eaves of our roof. We plant sunflower, nasturtium and cabbage seeds in the raised beds amongst the red onions. The garlic is thriving and its scent rises to greet me every time I enter the vegetable plot through the little gate.
Then, one morning, whilst I sip my tea from the Ponder Chair (a comfy old high back chair, covered in blankets, with the best vantage point for pondering the garden) a large bumble bee flies in through the open door and rests beside me on the windowsill. A very welcome sight.
Within days others follow, until there are countless bees darting in and out of the apple tree branches. My second son, the keeper of the tree, is so excited: “This means we will have apples in the autumn!”
Late April and the bluebells arrive. I am happier than ever to see them this year, when we cannot spend as much time in the ancient woodland as we normally would due to the national quarantine. A small part of the old English spring is here with us.
As the weather warms, the stream becomes irresistible to the children. Our one year old daughter loves to change the sound of the water by piling up different combinations of pebbles. Sometimes little channels start to overflow into the borders and the plants look glad of it.
I am now able to walk barefoot along the paths each morning and we keep the doors open, so that we can step out into the garden with a cuppa in hand. The children run in and out. I actually like it when the occasional bee loses its way and buzzes through the kitchen to inspect whatever am baking, before catching the scent of flowers again and returning to the garden. I welcome the occasional burst of light rain.
I leave the window above the sink open, so that I can hear birdsong throughout day and watch the pigeons, robins, sparrows and blackbirds bathe in the stream as I work in the kitchen.
Now the apple blossom looks more fragile, and is occasionally starting to drift away on the breeze. As the delicate watercolour-like spring petals fade, we prepare to welcome the fresh greens of May.
—Keep safe and well everyone. With heartfelt thanks to all those who are working to keep us safe, especially those on the frontline in the NHS and hospitals around the world.—