2016: the year of spaciousness

Because there's more to life than work


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Why is noticing nature important?

We’re all busy. It doesn’t matter if we only notice nature at weekends or on the telly on Countryfile, does it?

Well, any awareness is better than nothing, but it’s the daily stuff that makes the difference. It means we’re pausing out of our oh-so-busy lives and noticing what’s actually happening, right now. You can call it mindfulness if you want (very fashionable just now), but really it’s just being prepared to pay attention, to be alert to the possibility of wonderment in everyday life.

I’ve just walked into our kitchen to make a coffee, and a charm of goldfinches alighted at the top of our cherry tree for less than a minute. No time to take a picture – soon as I’d registered them they were off, away in a dipping and soaring cloud to their next vantage point. But they brought a smile to my face, and reminded me that this is the third time I’ve seen them this week, but with bigger numbers in the group each time.

I find that the things I notice in nature – the barn owl swooping over flooded fields seen from a train at dusk, the birdsong while I’m writing my to-do list at the start of the day, the daffodil giving me the first real hit of yellow this year – are the things that stay with me through the day and beyond.

Daffodil February GoldAnd I think that’s why we all need nature regularly – it’s the stuff that feeds our souls, that lifts us out of ourselves and helps us to notice what’s happening in the huge amazing world we inhabit. And yes, a flowering daffodil is just as much a part of that as the Amazonian rainforest, the Alps or the icy landscape of the Arctic – and it’s right here on our doorstep.

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Chill winds

Strong northerly breeze keeping temperatures well below zero all day today. I’m still getting over a bad chest infection from last week, so nature was absorbed today either at a remove through the car window, or in quick dashes between the car and the house.

Crocus in sunlight

Crocus tommasinianus

The light was amazing today though – pure blue sky and clear sunshine ensuring that every crocus in the garden was wide open. These are some of my favourite crocuses (I’ve written about them before here) as they seed themselves around so prolifically, and are much earlier to flower than the usual crocuses you see.  I love the contrast between the pale mauve outer petals and the deeper middle ones.

Crocus in bud

I suppose their origin in Eastern Europe accounts for their early bird nature – nothing much seems to affect these beautiful early blooms.

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Cherry blossom time

 

IMG_2697The light today has been just wonderful, and although I’ve had a long day at my laptop I had to keep sneaking out into the garden to catch as much of the spring rush as possible. You can almost see the cherry opening – no wonder they have celebrations of this in Japan.

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IMG_2698And for the first time this year it was just warm enough to head into the garden after work to sit and enjoy the sunshine – admittedly with a scarf on as the wind is still chilly, but that didn’t matter.

IMG_2701I don’t want to miss a second of this spectacular colour.

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Blossom time

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This is proving to be a seriously good spring for all types of flowers – tulips are coming out all over the garden, the forget-me-nots are just getting into their stride and I don’t think I ever remember seeing so many flowers on the magnolia and camellia.

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IMG_2671To give you an idea of scale, I can just about stretch to reach the top of the magnolia, and the camellia outgrew me a few years back. We planted both of them the year we moved into this house over 20 years ago and they’ve brightened every spring since.

IMG_2672Today had been grey with low cloud until about 5pm when the sky cleared and there was the most amazing low angled sun lighting up all the flowers.

IMG_2677I’d been reading the Portraits of Wildflowers blog earlier today about the amazing wild flower meadows in Texas at this time of year and thinking how marvellous it must be to see that. But honestly, the forget-me-nots, celandines and all the other parts of an English spring aren’t half bad either.

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Perfect garden afternoon

IMG_2648The warm weather this weekend seems to have resulted in lots of wildlife getting out and about. I saw three different types of butterfly this afternoon: the Peacock above and the Tortoiseshell below. I also had a Comma land on the table, but couldn’t get to my camera without frightening it off! I’m sure these must all be ones that have been hibernating through the winter.

IMG_2646The birds are also thoroughly enjoying the warmer weather – the bowl we have for Tilly to drink from in the garden makes a perfect sized bath for two or three sparrows, or a solitary starling or blackbird – this one today was having a really good splash!

IMG_2645So, so nice to sit in the garden with my flip flops on (with my feet hideously whitened after many months of thick socks!), read (currently revisiting Enchanted April, which I wrote about last year, and is one of the best books about finding joy by following your heart), journal, bask in the sun and listen to the bird song. Not warm enough to be out of long sleeves yet, but pretty good all the same.

IMG_2650I always want to grab hold of spring this time of year and make it stay longer – things seem to flower and change so quickly, and after a long winter you feel like you want the magnolia and quince blossom to last just as long as the cold weather did.

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Wednesday in white

IMG_2624The whites in the garden have been dazzling today, although when you start to look more closely it’s clear that quite often there’s a tint of another colour in there too – this Chaenomeles or Japanese Quince is a variety called ‘Apple Blossom’ and you can see why when you look at some of the other flowers:

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IMG_2623The exact balance of pink to white on each flower is different, giving a lovely overall effect. The magnolia is similar, with a faint blush at its base:

IMG_2619Totally different effect with the daffodils though – this is definitely a creamy yellow:

IMG_2628There are two icy whites in the garden though – the Osmanthus delavayi (I don’t know its common name, sorry!) which is just smothered in pure white honey scented flowers that some early bees were enjoying:

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IMG_2637And the honesty seed pods that have lasted right the way through the winter.

IMG_2629Loving this spring light and freshness!

 


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Blue Monday

Not a blue mood – just a realisation of how much blue there was in the garden today! Hyacinths,

IMG_2600Chionodoxas

IMG_2601The white splash in the middle of their petals seems to fade as they get older.

IMG_2614Forget me nots

IMG_2610Anemones

IMG_2609Pulmonarias

IMG_2607Grape hyacinths

IMG_2611And over it all – the bluest of skies.

002Hope your Monday was filled with only the good blues 🙂