Do you think that Spring has arrived yet? It’s a question that is constantly banded about at this time of year along with arguments of a late Spring or an early one and discussions on how one can identify if spring has sprung or not. It’s a bit like our constant preoccupation with the weather, in the respect that it never seems to go away. The type of discussion that seems to become ever more prevalent as you get older, as though some kind of vicarious learning experience is taking place or a natural instinct to air our feelings about muggy days or impending rains kicks in a few years post puberty. Quite frankly I’m bored of it now.
A widely recognised harbinger of Spring put pay to this lingering debate when out on a walk today. The beautiful Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io) was spotted enjoying the sunshine in nearby woodland, signalling that Spring is definitely here and that we should now concentrate our discussions on something a little bit more constructive or failing that we could just look for signs of April Showers, the Easter bunny or the hottest day of the year? Peacocks are one of our longest living butterfly species and have fared pretty well over the past couple of decades as a result of climate change. These striking creatures hibernate over Winter and then emerge from late March onwards. This peacock was right on cue and it’s likely that it emerged sometime over the past couple of days if not today. It was a very welcome site indeed, quite similar to my discovery of Vanessa atlanta late last year.
I’ve managed to spend a bit of time in the garden this weekend too, which has been quite productive and came as a much welcome relief. A general tidy up of the garden has added plenty of plant material to the compost heap as has the addition of the only casualty of the Winter, a Wasingtonia filifera palm. If I’m completely honest it’s no great loss and the patch of earth it left behind was put to good use with the addition of a hazel obelisk on which I intend to grow peas and borlotti beans. The wait for my allotment plot is becoming a bit of a nightmare, although I’m reliably informed that I am number two on the list, so the garden is slowly evolving in to a potager.
My first batch of compost has been a great success and I spent quite a bit of yesterday morning applying it as sumptuous mulch to the top garden borders. It will help suppress weeds, insulate the soil and retain much needed moisture. Many of my plants are in a hurry to grow and are pushing up through the newly warmed soil, this mulch should aid them as the season progresses. Several Clematis race away and require a little string as forced support to help them on their ramble, on top of what’s in already planted, I have also added a Clematis tangutica. This plant was a gift, which has lived in a pot outside my front door for the last two years and was in need of a more permanent spot.
I just hope the impending cold weather and possible snow, forecast for this week, does not destroy the new growth. I guess old habits die hard?