Today has been one of those April days when we have seen snow, hail, and sun, where a cold wind has kept us out of the garden, and yet the greenhouse has been so warm that I have been in shirtsleeves. We woke to snow, forecast by the Met Office, and as we drove up the hill behind the town, looking back we could see the tops of the High Moor lightly covered. Two hours later we returned in bright sunshine, the back of the Land Rover packed with plants and potting compost.
Spring is in the garden, and despite the fact that we now have help, there is a lot for us to do. Yesterday the roses in the courtyard had to be tied back, and wires replaced; today more tidying up, as well as the new plants to be sorted, and everything prepared. My greenhouse is still waiting for the first alpines.
And this is the time of year when we are pulled two ways, out into a garden that is just breaking into life, or up onto the moor or through the woods, to watch for birds and wait for summer visitors. Last week we were back in Yarner Wood, and knew that spring was here, as we watched Brimstone butterflies along the woodland paths, sulphur yellow males and the lighter greenish tinged females, like autumn leaves but falling upwards. The feeders at the hide were empty, but long-tailed tits romped through the tree tops and we watched a pair of nuthatches cleaning out nest box number 5, below the hide, ready for use. Opposite, in the high pines, we could see, and hear, the ravens. Next time we go, the pied fly-catchers should be back, and the greater spotted woodpeckers nesting.