The April Garden

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.

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80 Comments

  1. Your post so aptly catches the beauty of spring, which is coming despite Covid-19. Your small garden sounds like a wonder for young children. And yes, yes to all the workers who are making life safe for the rest of us. My husband any I are seniors, and thanks to those who pack and deliver, we can stay home and avoid people. So very grateful!

  2. Nice photos! I’ve taken shots of apple blossoms and never managed to see them the way you have, and I take closeups of bluebells every year and end up deleting them–for good reason. So I’m sharply aware of how good yours are.

  3. Love the blossoms! A bit wary of the bees, though I know they mean me no harm. Most of all I love your daughter damming the stream 🙂 🙂 Stay happy and safe!

  4. I had a lovely visit in your beautiful garden. After the dull days of winter we are longing for the colours of spring. To be able to spend time outside with your family is so important during this difficult time. It nourishes the heart and soul.

  5. I love springtime, apple blossoms, bluebells and hearing bees! There’s a beautiful wooded area in Sligo that’s usually bursting with bluebells but it’s out of the reach this year as we are only allowed to go for a walk within 2 km from where we live. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva

    1. Thank you very much Janet – I have really loved losing myself in the garden and surrounding fields and woodlands this springtime 🙂 I hope you are keeping well x

    1. Hello Syd, I really admire your photography, so that compliment is very much appreciated thank you. I particularly remember a photo of a chive flower, that was really sharp and clean 🙂

    1. Thank you very much – I’ve seen on the news that this is meant to be a bumper year for apples, after a mild winter and warm spring (I think that it why we had so many blossoms in the garden) – so fingers crossed 🙂

  6. What a lovely time of the year and as you say, you’re lucky to have a garden where the children can go out to play.

    I feel sorry for children living in high-rise apartment blocks at this time of lockdown. Can’t be easy for their parents.

    Lovely photos to cheer us all up 🙂

    1. Very much so – I told my sons yesterday in the fields, as we watched the clouds, to appreciate the huge wide skies we have here … and that not everyone has this and they could barely comprehend it. My 12 year old said that even in cities surely they have the sky, and it looks very different when there are tall buildings. I’m really glad you enjoyed all the pics 🙂

  7. Even the words apple blossom and bumble bee fill me with joy. We don’t get bumble bees in Australia and we certainly don’t get apple blossom in south-east Queensland. Thanks for making my day.

    1. Hello Jo, I didn’t realise that Australia didn’t have bumble bees – I’m so used to them here. We’ve had a really early spring here, so there are more than ever at the moment. I’m really glad you enjoyed the pics! 🙂

    1. Thank you very much, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I think I’ve come to appreciate it so much more whilst keeping close to home this springtime – I hope all is well with you and your family x

    1. Thank you so much, I’m really glad to read that. The ponder chair was my armchair from the living room (originally a baby nursing chair) – I realised I spent all of my time stood up drinking tea by the french doors, and rarely sat in the living room. I’ve loved having it in the kitchen 🙂

    1. It’s looking very hopeful – it was in the news today that the mild winter and warm spring has created the best conditions for years for apples. Early blossoms and lots of bees. Keeping my fingers crossed! Happy Sunday 🙂

    1. Hello there, I’m really glad you enjoyed the blossom photos. For a week the tree was near-swarming in bees, so we are really hopeful for some apples, come autumn 🙂 I hope you are keeping well x

    1. Thank you! It’s only a tiny garden but I still find plenty of little things to watch and photograph 🙂 I’ve really been enjoying your website and pics of your beautiful garden and home x

    1. Hello Tierney, happy Sunday 🙂 The Ponder Chair was originally my baby nursing chair from the living room – I’ve now moved it into the kitchen after finding myself always stood with a cuppa by the french doors, pondering my garden 😀 Hope you are keeping well xx

    1. Thank you very much 🙂 The sound of water, even from a tiny stream like ours, has made a big difference to the feel of the garden, and now spring is here, there’s normally a bird or two bathing in it to watch as well 🙂 I hope you are keeping well x

  8. A wonderful read! And ‘the keeper of the tree’ sounds like a very special role. 🙂

  9. What a sweet site you have here. Your cheerful commentary is as beautiful as the apple blossoms are to the bee. I love the English vibrant colors.

  10. Gorgeous blossom photography! Lovely to see your place like this. As always, a most enjoyable read framed with wonderful images. x

  11. We are so lucky in that we have our garden retreats… your children looked to have had fun over Easter despite the lockdown… Those potatoes will bring huge smiles when they are ready to eat and I can see you making good gardeners out of your children…
    I love your approach in how you immerse them in nature, learning them at the same time…
    We too had lots of Big Bumble bees,, the smaller bees I have not seen many of, though the butterflies have been flying…
    Apple blossom is gorgeous .. Wait till those apples form…. 🙂
    Your photography skills are excellent… so clear…. 😀
    Loving my catch up.. 🙂

    1. Thank you Sue! The lockdown is certainly giving me lots of time to practise my photography! We found some rare white English bluebells in the woods this week – I shall have to publish the pics, they were so pretty x 🌿

      1. Big BIG smiles, why?? well for the first time ever behind our shed in the allotments we too had some White Bluebells growing… I had never spotted them before as they were under the blackberry shrubs that had grown a little wild.. Hubby cut them back in the autumn and so I was overjoyed to have them growing safe and sound 🙂

  12. I just love your photos and hearing how your children explore nature. Wonderful. I have saved a few of your up-close photos (bluebell and apple blossom) to use as an inspiration for a piece or two to paint in my watercolor class later today. Thanks!

    1. Thank you 🙂 The children do love gardening. Especially my second son, who has a little corner of his own and my little daughter who likes to rearrange all the rocks in the stream whilst we work on the veg plot. The rest fly round the paths on scooters 🙂

  13. Thanks for visiting my garden. I enjoyed the visit back. Although we could have done with some rain, the fine weather throughout this spring has been a blessing. I can’t imagine how much worse the pandemic would have felt had it rained most of the time! The bees have been busy in my agrden throughout. Birds, too!

    1. Thank you Frank – I know what you mean and we’re feeling very lucky that when the pandemic hit here it was the start of the spring gardening season, I think I would have been a bit lost without being able to go outside in the sun and work on the veg plot. Hope you are keeping well 🙂

  14. Love your pictures! Your ending paragraph is beautifully said.
    I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts. Thank you for the follow and I’m following you back! Have a wonderful day and take care. 🙂

    1. Thank you! I found your blog on a search and was so pleased, it’s a lovely read and I’m equally looking forward to seeing more of your photos and writing about gardening, family life and homeschooling 🌿

      1. You’re welcome Sue! I’m so happy you found my site. Yay! BTW, my middle name is Sue.
        It’s always great to find other bloggers write about their homeschooling experiences and motherhood challenges and adventures. Take care and have a blessed day.

          1. Oh no, sorry I got your name wrong! I usually don’t call bloggers by their real name (which I thought yours was Sue), but a few of my blogging friends started calling me Esther. It was unfamiliar at first, but I like how it feels personal and friendly.
            Beck, thank you for letting me know!
            Hope you have a great weekend and your gardening goes well. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 – all photos and videos are taken on iPhone 🙂 For the video footage and some of the macro shots we often use an app called ProCam that acts like a macro lens 📷

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