It’s finally happened, Spring has sprung!
Oh I daresay, we’re still in for some chilly days, high winds and maybe even some late snow, but there is no doubt about it – Spring has arrived!
Winter was a little bit easier this year, with a woodburner to warm up in front of and the windows that were fixed last summer to let in more light, but even so, it’s so good to have made it to the other side. That wonderful feeling of warm sunshine on your face, barefeet on the sand, a posy of wildflowers in your hand and thousands of bird voices singing out through the skies – it’s so uplifting.
March might have officially brought the beginning of spring, but with plenty of snow it still felt very much like winter, to us. Nature won’t be dictated to by our calendars, the seasons change when they’re ready to and sometimes you just have to be patient and wait until that magical day, when you know it’s arrived.
This week, there was no doubt. The sun has been there to greet us each morning, coats and hats have been left at home and we’ve spent so many hours outside that we feel full to bursting, with spring goodness.
The birds have returned to nest in our garden and outbuildings. A little early for swallows yet, but the starlings, wrens, blackbirds, wagtails and dunnocks are all busy collecting nesting materials. The starlings appear to be nesting in the eaves of the cabin, so it won’t be long before alarm clocks aren’t needed and we are woken each morning to the sound of baby birds being fed.
The local short eared owl has also been seen several times, flying around our garden in the evening light. There really is something quite magical about seeing an owl and no matter how many times we see one, there will always be an excited squeal of ‘Oh it’s the owl!’ whenever one is spotted.
It’s not just the birds that are returning to the garden – new flowers are spotted each day. Daffodils, which are so popular in Orkney, are not only blooming in our garden, but all over the islands, adding to the sunshine in a dazzling display of yellows and oranges.
The tiny patch of purple Honesty, which I found last year, has spread considerably and I keep finding more and more of it. A lovely addition to the early spring colours. Something that I didn’t see last year (I presume that it got trampled on, while we worked on the cabin), is Scurvy Grass. I always enjoy seeing it down amongst the rocks on the beach, in springtime, but now it is appearing in thick pillows of green and white, all around the cabin.
So what have we been doing with this wonderful week? There have been plenty of walks by the sea, but also work has begun on this years list of jobs to be done.
With help from Lark and Wren, I turned a neglected corner of the garden by the farmhouse, into a handy area for putting out the seedlings in trays. I intend to build up a collection of container plants for this area and maybe put in some kind of seating, later on.
As usual there is no budget for the garden, but we had some gravel left over from a drainage job last year and there are always plenty of rocks around, from walls and buildings that have collapsed here over the years. As well as being a handy, usuable space, it has also solved the problem of the Monkshood, that grew in this area last year. Not something that I wanted growing in a garden with a young child playing there.
There was still plenty of gravel left, to finally put the paths in between the raised beds that we made last spring. I’ve got lots of work still to do in the courtyard garden, but I can already see that it’s starting to look lovely and like a place where it’s nice to spend time.
Also,we finally found a home for the old car, that had sat unused for a couple of decades at least.
As soon as it was collected by its new owner, Matt got to work, taking down the old broken double doors and replacing them with a new front. Now it’s an extra workspace, which is so helpful, with a long list of repair work to get through this year.
But more exciting than any of that, is the sight of our polytunnel frame, nearly complete.
We have some extra bracing to put on (it’s got to be strong to stand up to Orkney weather!) and the door panels need to be added, but I can see just how big it is and in my mind I am already planning out where the beds will go, what to hang from the crop rails and where to put a couple of chairs for those that want to sit and enjoy the plants growing.
We have dreamt of a polytunnel since we started planning our move to the islands, nearly four years ago and now it’s here and I can’t wait to start filling it up!
First things first though, we must get up the wind protective fencing, to ensure it has a long and productive life.
Sometimes on a very big project like this, it seems like slow progress, because it’s not a project really, it’s your life and there are lots of things that need your attention. But there are moments, when you can stand back and see what you have achieved and the good things that are to come, when it all feels so worthwhile and the hard work is visible in the changing scene around you.
Spring is a great time for that. Renewed energy, renewed enthusiasm come with the arrival of blossoming flowers and new life all around us. So, “Hello Spring, it’s good to see you!”.