My February Spring Dawn daffodils herald the slow, cautious approach of spring full of pauses and hesitation, but the onward progress of an irresistible change has begun.
The satellite images will soon be showing earth’s colour changing across the northern hemisphere spreading as the returning sun warms the land, restoring green to the northern part of this green, but damaged, planet. Though it wears man’s ‘smudge and smear‘ the Earth is still working as the Creator promised. Our spirits rise with the rising sap as the prospect of spring stirs us from our winter gloom.
‘And for all this, nature is never spent;From ‘The Grandeur of God’ by G.M. Hopkins
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.‘
A few weeks ago it was ‘a February face full of frost, of storm and cloudiness’. Now we sense that
‘winter slumbering in the open air,Shakespeare and S.T. Coleridge.
wears on his smiling face a dream of spring!’
A sunny day this morning has drawn me outside to experience the wonder of spring’s first signs. A flock of the local jackdaws frolic exuberantly over the tree tops. Great tits determined ‘teacher teacher’ calls dominate the gentler calls of blue tits. Goldfinches tinkling conversations come from a tree opposite. A lone greenfinch’s ‘wheezing’ call from a neighbour’s garden followed by a dunnock’s quiet song. An insect bumps into my face reminding me that March is only 2 weeks away. But missing again is an early song thrush singing down the lane. That would certainly send my spirit soaring.
An early bumble bee, fancying winter over, searches for early pollen. The first overwintered Red Admiral butterfly trusts itself to spring’s frosts and fickle brooding skies. Soon we expect the early Brimstones.
Nature’s Sleeping Beauty is waking to a new season. This very early spring warmth is setting off territorial birdsong, but I hope they hold on, it’s still very early. This week’s weather forecast doesn’t look very good!
The First Signs of Spring in the Garden
My favourite small garden tree, Prunus autumnalis (above), flowers on and off in mild spells throughout winter. Now with spring coming it ups the tempo preparing for a final flourish to go with the early daffodils. Narcissus Rijnveld’s Early Sensation started as usual in December. Now Spring Dawn is taking over. Helleborus niger, Winter aconites, Cyclamen coum album and snowdrops are all early risers. They’ve been with us for several weeks. Winter honeysuckle, winter sweet and winter iris are over, but the yellow shrub Cornus mas (above) is beginning its display. That’s the joy of a garden – there’s always something coming into flower.
February – Crocus Month
But above all for me, February is the early crocus month. I wait watching for my delight, Crocus tommasinianus, then suddenly on sunny days these little sisters of the sun are there. A large pool of shimmering purple in the grass of our mini spring meadow. Their delicate fleeting appearance is more choice and refined than their large Dutch cousins. Not to be out-done, the snowdrops are sharing the spring meadow show with the crocus. Another early eye-catcher is bright yellow Crocus flavus (above).
On a sunny day like this spring is definitely in the air. The season starts slowly at first, but too soon it will be speeding by. I must make the most of every early moment and savour the glory and wonder of each spring gift. Who could not be cheered by the sight of this purple profusion of crocuses?