Waking up

The early signs of Spring are all around – masses of frogspawn in the ponds (laid nearly 2 weeks ago); buds swelling on the Jostaberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries & Mirabelles; tiny yellow Cornelian cherry blossom; honeybees & bumblebees foraging on the early Hellebore and ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) flowers; dangling catkins of Hazel and Italian Alder. And the birdlife….

Male (yellow catkins) and female (red) flowers of Italian Alder

Male (yellow catkins) and female (red) flowers of Italian Alder

Some early ‘herbaceous perennials’ are stirring into life, such as Stinging nettle, Cow parsley, Rhubarb, Creeping buttercup, Dandelion, Alkanet and Comfrey.

Our reptile species – Slow worms (Anguis fragilis) and Viviparous lizards (Zootoca vivipara) – hibernate in soil, compost heaps and under old concrete hardstanding. Re-home them out of harms way as soon as possible upon discovery. They may still be ‘hunkering down’, though the rising temperatures and warm sunshine will no doubt tempt them out before long.

Soil-dwelling creatures such as earthworms and grubs are slow and dozy when brought to the surface in forkfuls of earth. Wireworm (the slender yellow-brown grubs of click beetles) can damage various crops including potatoes. They can be removed by hand when found, and/or freshly-dug beds can be left unsown for a week or two for the Robins and Blackbirds to go over.
Garden snails seal over their shell apertures and lock on to the concealed vertical surfaces of timbers and water butts. This is an ideal time for removal by hand.

Of course many creatures are active year-round: there’s been much badger activity on-site recently, with many holes dug in the wood-chip paths and in vegetable beds; foxes are regularly sighted during daylight hours; rats and mice go about their rodenty business throughout winter.

So enjoy this magical time of year on the allotment and in the garden, as Nature unfolds before our very eyes and every day brings new encounters with old & new friends of the plant and animal realms.