Start of Summer
This is the time of year when ‘firsts’ and favourites come thick and fast and it is easy to forget to be mindful and take it all for granted. The Japanese natural calendar marks this past season as ‘the beginning of summer’. Britain’s calendar keeps this until the Solstice at the end of June but I am going with now! Maybe I am just impatient. Maybe it is the harbour walks barefoot and the year’s first swim that convince me that it’s close enough.
In the courtyard the large frogs have been joined by a multitude of tiny frogs. I celebrate them for eating the slugs! The last of the tulips are fading and give way to the plethora of summer. I can see the first heads of allium waiting to take their place.
Out in the larger gardens the lilacs are in flower followed closely by the never to be out done laburnums. The elderflower a are only just starting but we await them eagerly to start preserving. Even the horse chestnuts are in flower. Their stately blooms remind me of the queen’s hat perched on the grand dame’s head.
In the wild the Night Jars curr on the heath and look out for the Montagu’s Harrier, they are a rare special sight these days.
On the allotment things are coming on by leaps and bounds the last two weeks, especially the weeds! In the cutting garden things have diversified from tulips only to ranunculus, white verbascum, iris, cerinthe, and red scabious.
We also spent a long Saturday digging over and building a windbreak for the tomatoes. We think it looks whimsical using scavenged marsh drift wood to keep costs down. Very pleased to keep things super-local. And super-economical!
Sharrington strawberries are out! And asparagus! The first true seasonal specialties! What a treat. Can’t wait for our own strawberries to ripen. Well, here’s to the start of the summer season!
Since our last update the acid green buds on the the trees have mellowed to an apple green. Blossom flutters in the air; the sloes are putting on a good show this year. We walked down the lane from Wiveton to the coast road and the petals snowed down on our heads from above.
Everything is starting to fill out and become lush. The vivid blue ceanothus clouds glow from garden walls. The long-awaited dark pink blossom on the corner of Saxlingham road has finally come out: warm magenta hues.
The air is now full of birdsong. The nightingales’ serenade can now be heard. The odd cry of the Northern lapwing calls over Blakeney and Cley marsh. The first swan pair glide down Cley Channel.
On Mariner’s Hill the tiny white flowers blanket the southface. They spread a little further each year, around the bluebells and fennel. In the evening light they glow like a snow dusting.
Barefoot season has started with a walk down the harbour at low tide! I always say there are two halves to the year in Blakeney, barefoot season and welly season. So pleased! We have also had our first BBQ’s on Cley beach. Fishing and sea bass sandwiches! This also leads us to start work by on the boat again and planning for a launch date!
In the allotment the squash seeds have gone in. Sweet pea seedlings go along the dahlia walk. I can’t wait for their sweet scent to fill the house all summer. In the kitchen, the smell of slow cooked gammon hocks over lentils permeates. Rhubarb, rhubarb, and more rhubarb! Crumble with Banana! With pomegranate in cheesecake. Allotment produce is increasingly finding its way onto the table. Locally caught crab from Andy’s Crab Shed on toast with pea shoots and avocado! Delicious.
And the tulips continue their show in the courtyard, on the allotment, and at East Ruston Old Vicarage. A must see!
This season is one of renewal and rebirth in nature. The Japanese calendar refers to it as “awakening of the hibernated (insects)”, but I like to think of in terms of colour; lime. A bright acid green is common to many new shoots before they mature into the various shades of green for the summer, and spring has it in abundance.
On of my favourite bright green plants of the this time of year is the Alexander. Last year we made a delicious chutney with aniseed flavours, but waited a bit too late when the stems had gone woody. This year we are doing it earlier. It is the first foraging produce of the year in our calendar.
The animals are awaking as well with the first frogs in the courtyard and driveway. Around the middle of the month the Great Tit returned to the birch over the courtyard to serenade us with his call. On the marsh, the swallows return as well as the chiffchaff.
The bulbs are in full swing with daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, and snowdrops filling the gardens and churchyards of the area. Adding to the spectacle are leucojum. The afternoon sun has some warmth in it and we enjoyed our first afternoons sitting the courtyard in the swing. My favorite place to relax. And at the end of the season we can see the first tulip shoots, a sure sign of warmer weather on its way.
With all the bulbs out the large gardens have started to open to the public and for Mother’s Day we visited RHS Wisley this year.
The seedlings for the upcoming allotment year are soldiering on, adding the bright green tone of the season.
Holidays: Mother’s Day (UK)
Events: East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens open for daffodil season/Mother’s Day, 6/3/16 http://www.e-ruston-oldvicaragegardens.co.uk/pages/view/564/home.htm
Chestnut Farm snowdrop walk 3/3/16 and 6/3/16 http://www.ngs.org.uk/gardens/find-a-garden/garden.aspx?id=17225
Beginning of Spring
This time of year can have quite unpredictable weather. Year to year, and even day to day. The Japanese calendar labels this time with respect to rain water. While rain certainly features, I would describe the last two weeks as, changeable. One day I can find the warm earth under my hands in the garden, followed by snow and hail the next.
The geese continue to migrate, and birdsong can be heard in the afternoons. The current season from March 1-5 is named ‘Grass sprouts, trees bud’ on the 72 Season calendar and I couldn’t agree more. What a wonderful site, the new growth on trees. In the hedges the blackthorn is in blossom and on the verge the alexanders are starting to bud.
In the garden when I look around it does not surprise me the yellow and purple are the colors of Easter. The Grape hyacinths and Anenome blanda are out in the courtyard. And on the road sides is another plant common this time of year that I just call ‘purples’. Their lack of official name does not diminish the joy they give when you see them. Meanwhile, in the cutting garden the first Daffodils have bloomed and are now adorning my dining room table.
Work in the allotment has begun in earnest. Tomatoes, Marigolds, and Leeks are going through the propagator. The earth is warming and we have started digging over the scanty winter weeds before they take hold. It is just too tempting to plant seeds on warm days. After digging over last years cosmo bed I scattered Nigella “White lady” seeds, only to have it snow the following day! All this work justifies a trip to the Cley Deli for their delicious pies for a hearty lunch, and a slice of their cake to follow. In the evenings, beef seasoned for a week and slow cooked for 8 hours, is a weekend treat.
When we aren’t scratching around in dirt, the weekends find us on long walks with a warm breeze, but still dressed for winter.
The kayak comes back into regular use and gives us an upclose look the the birdlife on the marsh. As the boating season approaches, mooring maintenance becomes a priority in preparation.
I am filled with anticipation of warm weather and new life.
Events: Daffodil and Snowdrop Walks at Bagthorpe Hall 22/2 and Horsted House 21/2
Holidays: St. David’s Day, March 1st.