Spring has arrived. If you need dates to fix the seasons, then spring either started on Wednesday (the spring equinox) or on 1st March if you use the meteorological definition. Looking around here, it feels as though spring is slowly rolling in. It’s been slightly warmer and a lot less windy than earlier in the month. The days are getting longer and brighter and the birds sing and chatter loudly. The blackthorn hedges are veiled in white blossom that blows in the wind and falls to the ground like confetti amongst the new, bright green new growth of cow parsley, grass and cleavers.
Hidden in amongst the greenery, violets of every hue from white to deep violet (surprise, surprise) flower in shady places. To me, the appearance of primroses and violets marks the true start of spring. One of the best places to find violets on the farm is just on the edge of the yard, in the shade of the tree where the dog cocks his leg every day as we set off on our walk. Hmm. Maybe those ones are just best left untouched for everyone to admire.
As ever, there are certain spring rituals that I’m drawn to each year.
A posy of violets picked for the bedside table. Every now and then, I catch their scent as it drifts across the room. My favourite flower fragrance: fleeting, floral and nostalgic. My perfume of choice.
Some years I make Violet Syrup or Violet Jam but this year my fad is for Violet Tisane (well, this week at least). A couple of tablespoons of violet flower heads steeped in near boiling water for a few minutes produce a vibrant deep turquoise drink. It’s worth drinking for the colour alone, but it also tastes deliciously of violets, without the normal sweetness of jams and syrup.
I take no interest in the garden during the winter but in spring I have a sudden burst of enthusiasm. A few seed packets have been gathered ready for spring sowing, but first there’s the small matter of constructing the raised beds. We moved house last spring and have had no vegetable garden of our own since then but very slowly, the garden is beginning to take shape and the first of the beds are almost ready for sowing with carrots and beetroot.
The banks of the ditches that form the field boundaries are slowly filling with pale yellow primroses, which has me reaching for the Jelly Plate. The jelly plates have been badly treated, stacked away under printing stuff since the autumn, but have emerged relatively unscathed. It’s good to print with small spring leaves and flowers on a small jelly plate and get back into the swing. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you might want to read this beginner’s guide to jelly printing.
The tracks around the fields have been a bit wet and claggy after the glorious walking further afield in Tasmania and it’s been a bit gloomy tramping around in the mud. With luck, now spring is here, the sun will shine and there’ll be plenty of walking.
Do you have spring rituals? Or maybe you’re slipping into autumn. Do tell.