Spring comes late to my garden.
North-facing, paved over, with high walls on three sides, it sits in a puddle of shade all winter long. There are no sweeping vistas or sweet-smelling grasses on which to walk barefoot. The only plants that thrive there are hardy woodland flowers, ferns and bulbs in a jumble of muddy pots.
But I love it. It’s my sanctuary, and my little patch of the outside world. It’s where I go to plant seeds with my daughter in spring and watch them grow. It’s where we go, wrapped up in warm towels, after a bath to look up at the moon. It’s where we – if we’re lucky and the slugs don’t get there first – eat warm red tomatoes straight off the vine in summer and pick blackberries from the heavy boughs which overhang the wall in early autumn. It’s a habitat for birds and insects, a space for my daughter to play and of course, a miniature kingdom for my cat.
Right now, bright sprays of hazy blue forget-me-nots are appearing in places I don’t recall planting any seeds. The tulips and alliums are poised and ready to burst open into May. Delicate white blossom snows down from the tree over the wall and the elder and the ash grow above it all, side by side, like a pair of wily old ladies who’ve decorated themselves with young, budding, green leaves, ready for the big party. The herb garden is sweetly fragrant after the spring rain and plentiful enough to start harvesting for cooking again.
Everything is on the up.
Even so, it always takes my body a while to shrug off the last of winter. Even as Beltane approaches, I often still want to be curled up with a book under a duvet for another few weeks.
So, now that the ground is drying and the dawn coming earlier, one of the first things I do every day, without fail, is go outside.
As I empty the kitchen peelings and cuttings into the compost bin and top up the bird feeders, I breathe in the dewy dawn air and glimpse the sunrise over the neighbouring allotments.
I take a moment to notice the ferns unfurling and the birdsong and the mist and the soft colours of the morning sky, full of mystery and promise.
If only for a moment, I close my eyes, pause, and reset.
It reminds me to be grateful for the day.