This photo was taken at Gartmorn Dam, on a cold but sunshiny morning. It was lovely to be out – there were signs of spring everywhere, celandines, blackthorn blossom, a wren singing on almost every bush, robins in full courtship display, and the first chiffchaff calling in the trees around the dam.
I’ve had all my markers for spring, now – the first celandines, curlews, oystercatchers, and, yesterday, skylark song over the fields to the east of the village.
I took a walk up to the haggard I had especially in mind when I was writing Haggards. New leaves of yarrow, comfrey, nettles, (especially nettles), horsetails and vetch are showing already, and celandines, shepherds purse and whitlow grass.
Ivy berries are ripe now and I braved a tangle of nettles and brambles to get some for the start of dyeing experiments for this year. I’ve saved some roots of yellow flag and meadowsweet too, and when someone in the village was thinning out a birch tree, I got hold of some bark pieces, so the first dye-pot of the year will be happening today. Last year’s experiments were very satisfying, but this year I am determined to be more meticulous in following the instructions, to see if I can get some reds, purples and maybe green.
I have been sowing seeds too, so while I’m watching the simmering colours, I will be clearing away last year’s debris and planning for the summer. The garden has survived the winter pretty well, with daffodils, primroses, violets and wind anemones, and the best news of all – in spite of the crow which scooped a lot of frogs out of our pond, there is frogspawn!
Over the next month I’ll be looking out for the return of migrating birds – the swallows usually come back in the last week of April – and watching the tadpoles grow. I’ll take regular pictures of the wild flowers in the haggard, propagate a lot of herbs from soft cuttings, and listening to the dawn chorus. By the end of the month there may be fledgling sparrows – they are always first to hatch – and the gull colony will be looking for nest sites.