What extraordinary spring weather we have been having! Given the needs of the lockdown part of me is sorry we can’t be sharing this glorious part of the world with guests and tourists but another less magnanimous part of me is relishing the quiet of an evening, the unmuffled sounds of birdsong and the gob smacking beauty of this stunning landscape in early May. The many shades of green, the resonant tones of returning black caps and garden warblers and yes, the swifts arrived a couple of days ago, screaming in a few days earlier than usual. What a relief to see their return. As Ted Hughes reminds us that with the return of the swifts from Africa all is still well with the world:
They’ve made it again,
Which means the globe’s still working, the Creation’s
Still working refreshed, our summer’s
Still all to come.
Keeping a regular routine in the garden is certainly helping to keep all of us in the UK sane right now. We have been busying ourselves with planting up the newly renovated pond, sowing and nurturing veg seedlings and building a small pole barn to store firewood from forest thinnings and left over materials. We are super glad we took the trouble to mulch the flower and veg beds with compost before the dry weather set in and installed jute mulch matts around the 3500 young trees we planted this winter. It has been four weeks now with hardly a drop of rain and although everything still looks ok one can see growth slowing as plants begin to draw in on themselves to conserve moisture.
Selecting our plant of the month is difficult at this of year as there are so many candidates. But it is in the month of May that our whitebeam Sorbus aria 'Mitchellii' excels in the early morning and evening light against a backdrop of yew with its silvery backed leaves that demands one to stop and stare in wonder.
Now for some animal news. Our two bee hives have come through the winter but one hive didn’t have a queen. So I took a frame of brood from the other hive and inserted it in the queenless hive hoping they would produce a queen cell and yesterday when I had a look, hallelujah, they have. With all the warm sunny weather and early blossom the bees have been busy and it won’t be long before an empty super will have to be added.
The ponies have been walked a mile and a half away to a field opposite the Drunken Duck. That is where they spend the summer so our land can have a rest and wildflowers can bloom and set seed. We take hay from two of our fields which we feed to the ponies through the winter. They are our ecological engineers maintaining biodiversity and giving us manure for the compost heaps as well
The water temperature in Tarn Hows is warm enough to swim without a wetsuit, an indication of how much warmth and sunshine we have had. It is the earliest I can remember. Climate change or a one off? And does this mean summer will again be a wash-out? Rumour has it that the government will begin to ease the lockdown this week. Garden centres may open which will be a relief to us gardeners and some local travel may be allowed. Self catering may be possible soon but what about the many restaurants and cafes and the thousands of B and B’s in the Lakes? So many questions, so much uncertainty…