Spring is a process. The first signs begin way back in February, they gather pace in March and by mid April its in full swing. A few days of warm( 25C) sunny weather has encouraged the leaves to unfold on many trees, cheery and apple blossom is everywhere, as are foregetmenots and bluebells. The lilly's are beginning to emerge from the bottom of the pond and the fish are rising. I even saw the large carp at the surface today. The weeping willows are now full of leaf and the pussy willow is full of seeds. There is also much happening in the woods. There is a rich carpet of ground cover including wild garlic and bluebells and even the ash are beginning to take on a tinge of green. Here are just a few of the more advanced signs of spring.
I have now tided up the edge of the west side of the lake and I am pleased with the results. I have planted several clumps of 'copper grass' where there were barren areas in the grasses and sedges. I planted several ferns near the big old fern donated by my son by the weeping willow.
I decided I would cut the grass in the paddock. I half did it last year but the brambles have grown so much in the part that I didn't cut that they are in danger of taking over unless I do something fairly radical. So for about 5 or 6 hours under the hot sun I trundled backwards and forwards. Skirting round small bushes which I will take out later. I'm very conscious that I am destroying lots of habitats but in the long term it is better for the health of the field. As I was cutting a large fox came into the field and started perusing the stubble. He looked very healthy and he wasn't a bit bothered by me on the noisy tractor. He seemed curious, cautious and confident and he let me film him.
14 years ago today we began to inhabit this land.. I remember when we first saw our garden and we could not believe that we could own such a space. We have pinched ourselves everyday as we look out of our kitchen window. I know I am a lucky man and I cannot think of a more beautiful place to live on this earth. Over the years I have covered almost every inch on foot or tractor and admired its beauty. I realised a long time ago that I am simply the temporary custodian and that this thing of beauty will be owned by someone else in the not too distant future. So I have toiled to keep this verdant place in check, not just for me and my family, but for the people who will also look after and enjoy this landscape in the future. But there is also a price to pay for the privilege of dwelling in this place and the garden has a wonderful ability to cause pain (back, knees, cuts and lacerations, stings, burns and more). But that it is a small price to pay for the feelings of wellbeing it provides, the moods and thoughts it inspires, and the endless opportunity to admire and celebrate its beauty in the artefacts I make. Sadly, I cannot find any photos from when we first moved in. Perhaps we were too busy to take them. So I will have to make do with two images I processed using 'dreamscope'.
So in honour of my garden I dedicate my attempt to capture it in a painting and two photographic images that I processed using 'dreamscope'. The first is in the style of Monet's water lilies the second in the style of a Hockney woodland painting. Seeing the garden through their eyes of these artists gives me a different perspective.
Today is the day we were supposed to leave the EU but because of the inability of our Prime Minister to build a consensus that brings together the middle ground of political opinion we are going to grind on - although not this PM I suspect after today's vote.
But its a beautiful day and looking out of the window just fills me with joy. Spring has definitely arrived but spring is definitely a process and I have been very conscious this year of how slowly it emerges. The first signs are already around in early February but there isn't a week goes by without some new awakening in the landscape or soundscape. The bird sounds are just as important a sign of spring as the plants and trees. These are some of the signs I have recognised over the last 6 weeks.
Its March 1st the first day of spring according to the meteorological calendar and a pair of Canada Geese have turned up presumably to raise their family again. I am not sure the ducks will be happy as they are very territorial. I am assuming that they are the same pair as last year but I will try to discover if they have any distinctive markings.
It's now 4 weeks after the geese arrived and one of the geese has disappeared. I think into the dogwood on the island to lay her eggs.
APRIL 24th THE GOSLINGS ARRIVED we woke up to find them under the kitchen window!
Transmission power lines are an intrusive and ugly sign in the landscape reminding us of how unnatural man made constructions can be. But today, in the warm afternoon sunshine, I spotted a row of 17 doves making good use of them.
I guess nature decides when its spring. It is 15C today, warm and sunny and I have just spotted my first butterfly of the year. I had a walk around the woods and there are plenty of signs of spring. Dagfodils, snowdops, primrose and bluebells (no flowers yet) were all present, as was abundant wild garlic. The plum and hawthawn trees were flowering and a number of trees had leaves unfurling. I also spotted a pair of blue tits looking for nesting sites.
During the week of the 23rd we had warm sunny weather almost everyday and a top temperature of 19C. It was very unusual.
SheOur ducks and geese come and go as they please. A few weeks ago two pairs of mallards came and spent a few days on the pond then one pair flew away leaving the just one pair who seem perfectly at home. Because I have been in and around the pond for a few hours each day cutting the dogwood they have got use to me so more or less ignore me now, In fact they usually come to have a look at what I'm doing. They are so interesting to watch as they glide through the water causing the most amazing ripples.
Two days ago my wife spotted another duck that we hadn't seen before splashing in a large puddle on the drive. A little while later she was on the roof of the summer house so I went out to take photographs and was surprised how close I could get to her. Later I noticed her by the side of the pond and that is where she has been ever since. I think she is a Muscovy Duck and it so nice of her as a new resident on the pond. She is quite friendly and has a calming effect on the mallards. She is happy to sit with them preening herself.
I remember tackling the overgrown dogwood at the bottom of the garden exactly one year ago prior to the new fence being built. This year, in February I find myself back in the dogwood but this time in the pond. Its nearly 14 years since I adopted this garden and I'm ashamed to say I haven't once cut back the dogwood. Consequently it is now over 3m high and extends 3 metres over the pond and sometimes upto 5m along the bottom of the pond.
The pond gives us so much pleasure. It is the focal point in the garden and it is a haven for life on it and in it. Even at this time of the year there are usualy some ducks on it and our family of geese are frequent visitors. It is featured in many of my video films and it is a stimulus for my sketching and painting. Mostly I have just cut the saplings and brambles that spring up on its banks but this year I have decided to spend more time, effort and money on enhancing it and the first step is to clear the dogwood along its banks and perhaps on the small island used for nesting in the middle of the pond.
At this time of the year the pond is cold: in fact the surface is often frozen in the morning. It's quite shallow at the edge (around a foot deep) so I started off gingerly cutting the dogwood back in my wellingtons. But it was easy to slip off the narrow edge into deeper water and after a few wet feet experiences I realised this was not the way.
It was -2C at 8am this morning. There was a heavy frost and it was misty.
By lunchtime it was sunny and 14C
By 4.15 the sun was going down and it lit up the willow tree.