I love strawberries, so I always try to have a few ready for my birthday this month. Another snowy winter followed by a long dry spell stressed the plants in the garden quite badly, so they’ve been late starting into growth. Then just as they were coming into flower, an unexpected hard frost nipped them. All the centres of the open flowers went black, which means they'll die. Luckily I had some spare strawberry plants growing in the greenhouse. They didn't suffer so badly over winter, and were protected from the worst of the weather. We picked the first ripe berries on 6th May this year. There weren’t very many, but there are plenty more to come. Those fruits were all the more delicious for being home grown, with absolutely no food miles! The weather here has been miserable for ages, so its great to escape to the greenhouse. Opening its door to be greeted by the smell of ripe fruit is lovely, whether it’s the strawberries, or melons and tomatoes later in the year - and really fresh fruit tastes even better than it looks and smells.
My favourite time of the year is always now, whenever that might be. In spring there are all the signs of new life like snowdrops, primroses and the dawn chorus of birds to enjoy. Nightingales arrive back in the woods of Gloucestershire after wintering in the sun, and listening to them is a real treat.
Summer brings the delicious smell of freshly mown grass, more ripe fruit and long, hopefully sunny days. When the sun shines - which hasn’t happened often so far this year - it’s tempting to escape from the office and head out into the garden. Thank goodness for laptops!
We may lose the swifts and swallows in autumn, but we gain flocks of redwings attracted by windfall apples. I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of collecting conkers and kicking through fallen leaves. Finally, winter’s short gloomy days makes spending time in the garden less of a temptation, but that gives me the excuse to spend more time in the kitchen. The downside of that, of course, is that calories consumed in the shape of casseroles and chocolate cake aren’t burned off easily. When it’s wet and cold or dark, it’s so easy to curl up in front of the fire after a good meal rather than muffle up and go out for a walk.
What’s your favourite time of year? There’s a signed book from my backlist on offer for a comment picked at random!