The Joy of Spring!

by | Mar 21, 2024 | We Are The Ark

Today is March 21st – officially the first day of Spring! This is a time to celebrate new beginnings and look forward to the year ahead.

Spring flowers and buds have begun growing again after their long winter sleep. They are unfolding and bursting into life everywhere, signalling a time of renewal, hope and rebirth.

The dawn chorus has reached fever pitch and birds are singing throughout the day now hoping to attract a new mate. They are literally “full of the joys of spring”. This is my favourite time of year – a time when we are finally liberated from the dark, short winter days and able to spend more time of outside in Nature. The dogs are happy too, as they begin to savour more daylight hours and the extra walks!

Last year three of us planted over a hundred Irish daffodils on the grassy areas either side of the treed driveway, and It was the first year I didn’t rake up the leaves. To my surprise they are still pretty much in place, although a few have migrated across the grass. I’ve watched them slowly mulch down and also provide grubs for the birds to feast on during the long winter months.

The daffodils began to appear in early February – their bright green shoots pushing their way through the brown leaves and yellow buds waiting to unfurl. I didn’t know how many of the bulbs we planted would survive the winter, but they all seem to have flowered apart from a few who had their heads eaten off by passing deer.

Now the daffodils are fully open and the whole area looks more like a woodland garden than the patches of fertilised lawn, I inherited when I moved here four and a half years ago. And moss is slowly replacing much of the grass, creating different hues and textures while returning the land to its natural state. It looks as though it has always been here – growing under the trees and covering their large root systems. The daffodils and moss (and dead leaves) have transformed what was a dead grassy area into a vibrant, living eco-system.

Mosses play an important role in our eco-systems because they offer ‘microhabitats’ that are critical to the survival of organisms and provide shelter for insects to live. They also help retain moisture, which is good for the daffodils, and birds like to dig under the moss looking for grubs and insects to eat.

The brown, dead-looking hedgerows are also returning to life, filling up with violets, primroses, daisies, dandelions and broom – while many of the different species of shrubs and trees growing there are covered with tiny leaves and buds. We have finally begun to transition away from the stagnant days of winter and into a new season of renewal and rebirth.

I recently learned that buds can be used to make tinctures. The methodology is called Gemmotherapy—derived from the Latin words “gemmae” (buds) and “therapeia” (therapy) and these tinctures can act as a natural immune booster containing anti-fungal, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant agents. Once harvested the buds can be soaked in glycerin and alcohol for three weeks before the tincture is ready to be used. There are several websites that provide instructions on how to do this including the links page for this blog, and they provide a long list of suitable trees buds which can be used to make tinctures. Oak tree buds are on that list and are said to make a good general tonic. I’d like to try making some of that myself as my two large oak trees are on the verge of forming buds.

My apple and plum trees are now covered with blossom and I’m hoping that my new resident bees will take care of any pollination problems I encountered last year when none of my trees bore fruit. When the bees arrived late last summer (like the cavalry at the eleventh hour) they flew into an opening above the large bay window at the side of the house, and set up their new hive there. They cleverly arrived before the autumn weather set in and were able to collect enough pollen to make honey to keep them going over the winter months (I hoped) and I was relieved when I saw them finally emerge from their hive a few weeks ago, and begin to fly around outside, checking out their new surroundings, and looking for pollen. I’m hoping that on their travels they stumble upon my fruit trees. It would be lovely to eat some home grown apples and plums this year. and the bees will get the benefit of the yummy honey.

See the links page for more information.