There’s nothing like a blink of sun with a teasing hint of warmth and clusters of perky snowdrops to kid that spring is just around the corner. In the garden I even noticed flowers on a few polyanthus plants, like fresh pink faces amidst a slough of mahogany coloured leaves.
A clump of heather, white flowers in bloom, believes spring has arrived. But this is just mid February. The forecast is for cold to return, and in this part of the world we often have snowfalls in late March, even April, with sleet in May not totally unknown. Last year, in our topsy-turvy climate world, one of our warmest spells was in March, so we steel ourselves for uncertainties and remind ourselves of the old saying which could apply to garden as well as humans – Ne’er cast a cloot till May be oot. (Never shed one piece of clothing till after the end of May).
But spirits rise with the confirmation that winter is passing and any snow or freezing spells descending now will be relatively short lived. Hopefully. Meantime on this bright day the papery leaves of Honesty shimmer like wafers of mother-of-pearl and the ground-hugging golden yew glows in the sun. Colour is returning to the hibernating garden.
In the mud left by rain and melting snow roads are patterned by the treads of car and tractor tyres. Plants sleeping on their feet look tired and earth-spattered, while others are cosy beneath their cover of fallen leaves and it will be a while yet before a spring clean encourages the garden to abandon its sluggishness and put on another show of shape and colour.