Spring. When Nature’s powerhouse cranks into action. When the garden accelerates into life. When the birdsong is at its loudest. When the green is at its greenest. And when the sunlight is at its brightest. The most dynamic time of year is here at the Scottish Country Garden.
And it starts early with the winter aconites which pop up their cheery yellow heads during the first sunny days of January under the apple trees in the Walled Garden and under the old sycamores in the Pleasure Ground, closely followed by the snowdrops which emerge from the leaf litter in the woodland and the Tomassinianus crocuses, a small sea of blue gradually encroaching on the front lawn.
In the woodland, the Pleasure Ground and under the old apple trees in the walled garden, the daffodils with their cheery yellow, cream and white trumpets herald the arrival of spring. Tulips and hyacinths follow, with their heady aroma.
Reacting to the warm sunlight, the buds on the trees and shrubs start to break with the flowering currant always first, and on a still day, you can actually hear the Scots pines starting into growth as they shed their protective sheathes making way for the first needles of the year.
In the Walled Garden, the intriguing forms and colours of the herbacaeous foliage unfurls and extends. The previously bare skeletons of the apples, pears and plums burst into scented flower, a riot of white and pink, almost before their light green foliage emerges. Bees and other insects relish the opportunity of the early pollen they offer. Walk between the Yew hedges at this time of year and marvel at the blackbirds, thrushes, robins and sparrows continually coming and going to feed their hungry broods. From late April, the swallows and house martins return from their African winter homes.
In the pond, the water is moving with the annual invasion of frogs and toads spawning, followed by the more sedate newts, which almost seem out of place for a Scottish pond. The water lilies in the shallows react to the sun’s increasing powers, unfurling the first of their bronze and apple green leaves.
In the greenhouse, from early April, pots and trays of seeds abound. By late spring, it is light around 4am in the morning and the last rays remain until around 10pm at night, so the seedlings develop rapidly in the attendant warmth.