The vernal equinox -the first day of spring.
How do we mark such a significant day of the year? A few years ago I spent the day with a lovely group at Boundary Way Allotments in Penn. It was a day of late snowfall, known as ‘Daffodil or Onion’ snow (depending on your preferred plant) but despite the weather we stoically celebrated the coming of spring. We made a wreath/mobile to hang in our gardens using a circlet of hazel as our base. We hung things to protect our gardens over the coming growing months including an old iron fork to protect from witches and evil spirits, a shiny foil ball to attract the fairies to it rather than them causing mischief in our garden, we hung an eggshell as a reminder to deter slugs that they were not welcome during the growing season, feathers to celebrate the birds that we share our garden space with and we put moss around the circlet to give the birds a lining for their nests, we also included a sprig of rosemary in remembrance of those who had gardened where we do now and shells and bones to represent the nutrients from past living things that feed our earth. Finally we decorated it with seasonal plants & flowers such as catkins and forsythia flowers. The positive intentions we put into the making of our wreaths soon made us forget about our numb fingers as we looked forward to the growing season ahead and felt the ‘quickening’ experienced by all living things at springtime. We also acknowledged the elements of Air, Fire, Water, Earth & Spirit by the objects we had used in our wreath and what these elements meant to us in our lives as well as their value to our gardens.
It may seem inappropriate to be talking about celebrating this time of year when so many of us are facing the threat of Coronavirus. It is a sobering reminder of how fragile the human race is. But I would argue that now is exactly the time we need to bring nature and how we live alongside her to the forefront and in celebrating the seasons we remind ourselves of the beginnings and endings that we face in each passing year and that spring always brings hope.
Some call this day Ostara after the Saxon goddess, who was often depicted as a woman with the head of a hare.
‘All things that love the sun are out of doors, The sky rejoices at the morning’s birth, The grass is bright and raindrops on the moors, The hare is running, racing in her mirth’ Wordsworth
Our lovely old boy Pasha loves springtime because he can potter in the garden.
Nature has begun buzzing again and is busy and we should follow her lead. We can use our time to plant those seeds and begin to watch them grow as we nurture them throughout the growing season.
The saying; ‘One for the rook, one for the crow, one to die & one to grow’ is good advice both for our gardening and in our lives. We know that not everything can reach fruition; we may need several ideas, or several attempts at something to gain the success we hope for. So plant many seeds in the hope that some of them will grow!
There are many garden sayings about this time of the year regarding when it’s the right time to sow and plant. Here are just a few.
‘Sow beans or peas on David (1st March) and Chad (2nd), Be the weather good or bad, then comes Benedict (21st), If you ain’t sown your beans, Keep ‘em in the rick.’
‘At the cuckoo’s first spring plant French beans’.
‘Look to the Lilac and the Honeysuckle to guide your planting – When they show their leaves plant lettuce, spinach and peas. When it opens its blooms plant tomatoes, corn and peppers’.
It was believed you should sow seeds naked! I’m guessing that was a good indicator of if it’s warm enough. Definitely too chilly here yet!
The first 3 days of April are called ‘blind days’ when no planting should be done.
Springtime - when the fairies wake up and mischief begins !
It’s time to do some work, clear the ground, dig in/burn or compost unwanted things and plant the new on the ground you have prepared. I think it is amazing how we seem to have annual amnesia that lets us have a real sense of surprise and joy as we see bulbs pushing through, the frothy white blackthorn flowers, the brightness of yellows in drifts of daffodils, hearing birdsong amplified as they seek their mate, the gentle greens of springtime the list goes on. Try to appreciate the small miracles each day and celebrate the seasonal changes in a year when we all feel very vulnerable and fragile. Place yourself in the hands of Mother Nature. Her gift of Spring-time brings light, warmth and hope into out lives.
Wishing you all well and that the hope of springtime gives us all a much needed lift in our lives x