There are Spring moments where our chests want to burst at their seams. We ask ourselves are we dreaming, or have we been asleep in a shrunken cold grey dream?
Can our ribs contain our in-breaths? Our stiff bodies, shrugging off hibernation, are challenged and enticed to expand and reach out, as we ache to connect to newly refurbished life. Our eyes soak up the light like sponges. Waves of tree pollen can be seen in a certain angled light.
Some bulbs have already burst their skins and are fading; bees are getting drunk, birds nest building, often without planning permission, and bluebells are soon to fling out their ultraviolet blankets over ancient woodland – while mighty oaks, who’ve been there and done that, are still surprised by the life awakening below them and inside them.
We decide to Spring clean our houses, clear the last of the winter debris from the garden beds, turn over the compost looking for black gold, and retrieve lighter clothing from the back of the wardrobe. We think of past lovers, sex outdoor, our skin craving to be caressed.
With Covid isolating many of us from physical interactions, re connecting with nature has been a positive side of lockdown for many people. As Spring invites us to expand, cover restrictions mean planning carefully and limiting our exuberance.
And all around the world, Spring is celebrated as a magical month of awakening. In the UK Easter and Mayday celebration are the main places to worship rebirth, with chocolate, dancing, the first picnics, religious stories of rebirth and the famous English expedition to the garden centre.
In Chile, the Atacama Desert, officially the driest non-polar place on earth,
becomes known as the flowering desert with purple flowers transforming the landscape.,
Thailand holds a three-day festival in April called the Songkran Water Festival. The streets are alive with people and performances. Traditionally, this festival involves throwing water and bathing buddhas in order to cleanse themselves of impurities.
In India, Holi – the Festival of Colours – is the celebration of Spring, symbolising good over evil. Holi is a romantic celebration with a euphoric sensation below the technicolour sky as people drench each other and throw coloured powder at any passerby. It represents the blossoming of love and a time to repair broken relationships. In the garden, fruit and vegetables great staples of Indiam cooking are planted: khira (cucumber), kaddu (pumpkin), aloo (potato) and chukander (beetroot), and prayers are offered for a good harvest later in the year.
China boasts a profusion of cherry blossoms. The water splashing festival is a celebration of purification, helping to bring out bad luck and induce happiness for the year ahead.
Japan also ignites in Spring with cherry blossoms consuming the landscape. The national nightly news reports where in the country the Cherry trees are coming into blossom. They start blossoming in the warmer south and gradually travel northward. A tradition called Hanami involves people gathering under the pink canopy to eat and drink with friends while welcoming the season. The celebration of Spring awakens all the senses and cherry blossom-themed sweets.
What to do in your garden:
What do in April:
Start hoeing any bare areas of earth before the weeds take hold – if you do this once a week you will be weed-free all year
Sow sow sow. A lot of your summer vegetables can be sown directly into the ground now
Mulch your beds with compost and bark chips to seal in the moisture from winter and prevent growth of new weed seeds
Feed all your shrubs and roses with a handful of bonemeal dug about an inch deep around the base of each plant.
Feed iron-loving plants that are grown in pots with some iron fertilizer Not too late to give Dogwood and Willow and big cutback
You can apply both Moss Kill and Broadleaf weed killer to your lawns –wait a couple of weeks then vigorously rake out all the dead thatch. You can also reseed the lawn where there are obvious patches
You can sow annuals indoors or in your greenhouse – rather than that trip to the supermarket you could try growing Marigolds and Lobelia in trays
Where to go in April:
Visit the Hanna Pechar Sculpture gardens. Last year we wrote an article about this beautiful place full of powerful outdoor works of art. Please ring them as advanced bookings may still be necessary.
Black & White Cottage
RH5 5QR (postal only – use RH5 5QU for SatNav)
Telephone: 01306 627 269