Walking in the Kent countryside this afternoon I am reminded that, beyond the confines of our garden, spring is not quite as far advanced as I might have imagined. In the heady rush of seed planting and potting on, enveloped by the scent of cultivated wallflowers, narcissi and primroses, it’s easy to assume that the natural world is keeping pace with me.
But nature moves to its own rhythms and is still waiting patiently for spring. While lush puddles of lords and ladies, feathered beds of cow parsley and magical carpets of primrose emerge at ground level, the rest of the countryside is having an extended lie-in after an especially chilly February and March. In the hedgerows blackthorn, Prunus spinosa, is only just starting to bloom. Its dense, menacing branches are still adorned with buds as tight and white as tiny seed pearls. When they open they will transform brooding boundaries into billowing clouds of blossom. Look closely and you’ll find the simple flowers are as beautiful as any of its cultivated kin.
From tomorrow we are promised warmer days and balmier nights, which might well pull the trigger on the starting gun of spring. Unlike us gardeners, always hoping, anticipating, trying to get one step ahead, nature knows when the time is right and is keeping her powder dry until then.