Out in the garden more and more spring flowers are opening. In the semi-wild shady area at the bottom of the yew hedge honesty, forget-me-not and yellow archangel are in bloom. Bluebells, tulips and daffodils — including the stunning pheasant's eye, or poet's daffodil, which some believe was the first cultivated narcissus — border the wooden fence opposite the hedge, and clumps of wallflowers crowd the base of an ornamental cherry. The cherry's pink and white blossom faded quickly — as it always does — a few weeks ago.
The clematis growing up the fence is just beginning to reveal its delicate white flowers, and the creeping stems of the greater periwinkle create ground cover. The periwinkles' purple corollas contrast strikingly with their dark, waxy-green leaves.
Under the kitchen window stands a container of quince, its crimson flowers now past their best, and naturalised ivy-leaved toadflax creeps prolifically up the red-brick kitchen wall, happily disguising an unsightly network of downpipes and drains.
The hellebores and cyclamen have been blooming all winter, and are flowering still. But the white blooms of the camellia, so numerous this spring, turn brown and wither almost immediately. At the end of tough but flexible straight stalks the flower heads of the allium will remain tightly closed until May. They look like tiny onions.
Just over a month ago, around the time of the full moon, our pond was full of mating frogs. The frogs departed, leaving behind jellied masses of spawn. The tadpoles developed, and now there are thousands of them, wriggling in the depths like spermatozoa or sunning themselves on the bricks supporting the aquatic flower baskets. Some surface for a gulp of air, their lungs already forming.
Bees, ladybirds and other insects have been on the move for several weeks, including pond-living whirligig beetles, water boatmen and pond skaters. I've also been delighted to spot bee flies, which have the wings of a fly but the body of a bee. They have a long proboscis for drinking nectar, and are important pollinators. I've seen early butterflies too — Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Holly Blue.
(Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the pictures.)