Many are the reasons for peeping at the bedroom clock during the night. Sometimes, if we have had a sleepless night, we hope that it will show an hour or so nearer to the beginning of the day than it actually does. Or perhaps we luxuriate for longer than we should, and hope the minute hands move more slowly before the demands of another day begin. In either case you could not imbibe a better tonic for either situation than to share with the countryside about you the beginnings of another spring day. Just before sunrise, when a light mist hangs over the fields, it will probably be a blackbird or song thrush that “plays” the opening bars of the dawn chorus overture. Gradually the full orchestra will have joined in, with bird song coming from near and far, some more melodious than others. Certainly you will be able to identify the robin, always a “lead” performer, and the turtle dove will do its best to compete with the talent of others. Not only is the air filled with this joyous sound but the very air itself is fresh and bracing. So, before it is too late this year, treat yourself to a tonic that carries no prescription charge and has no unpleasant side effect whatsoever!
The countryside can, of course, have its anxious moments. You may recall the sharp frosts of late April. You will certainly remember them if you gazed at the blackened tips of your early potatoes that should have been earthed up but was a job for “tomorrow!” One or two very fine wisterias that adorn a few of our village houses, for the admiration of all, do not look as majestic as they might have done. A crop of turnips, grown specifically for seed, could just have lost some of its flowers and consequently a much reduced seed yield would be expected. Undoubtedly those early tomato plants in unheated greenhouses will now be looking a little sad. Maybe the well tried technique of pouring water over them, after the sun comes up, would have aided their recovery.
Late frosts, I hope, will not be a hazard to a garden close by Kittle’s Corner in that most peaceful of all parishes, Cretingham. There beyond the lawn and its ancient pear tree lays a meadow which has been sown with a great variety of wild flower seed. Come late May corn cockle, chamomile, marigold, poppy and much more, flower and then seed. Even the delicate bee orchid can be seen. In late June and July the whole will be a delight to the eye. The additional bonus is that the meadow provides a reservoir of perennial wild flowers in a mainly intensively farmed area and thereby helping maintain that essential balance in the flora of our countryside. It also provides a welcome habitat for “creepy crawlies” so that their life cycle too can continue.
It is just as well I left open the door of my garden shed rather earlier than usual this year. Even so, the unfailing arrival of my West African visitors took me somewhat by surprise. April 7th saw the first swallows inspecting likely nesting sites once again. I am glad to report mine meets with their approval.