Warm sun bathes the Island as I write, but as we well know, that can all change in a day! Spring can be such a fickle season when we are always kept on our toes and which keeps us gardeners guessing at what’s going to come next.

We can take comfort though, that warmer times are ahead of us as the daylight hours are increasing, and it’s noticeable that the wildlife at Quarr Abbey is stirring and coming back to life following the dormancy of winter.

We have seen the buds swelling so our priority has been to prune, but the forecast threatens minus temperatures.  This makes for an uneasy time as we hope that the fresh buds and blossoms don’t clash with colder climes and brisk winds. Nevertheless, many of these jobs are time-sensitive as we don’t want to miss our window of opportunity before the growing season really kicks in and we have to focus on other tasks.

The over-wintering crops are coming to an end and the seed orders have arrived and are being sown. This is the start of the horticultural roller coaster ride which won’t stop until the end of the year. The all-important sowing and protection of the delicate germinating plants is a key moment in the success of the vegetable garden.

A long harvest

In the orchards, we have been filling gaps and replacing sickly trees with new ones. These have been carefully selected to try and give us the longest possible harvest season for our ‘top fruit’ and ‘stone fruit’ trees, apples, pears and plums. These arrive as ‘bare root’ trees which have a planting window during the dormant season. These are normally a much more economical alternative to ‘pot grown’ trees.

Across the wider estate, the hedges have all now been cut ahead of the bird nesting season and some essential tree works have been taking place across the estate to reduce the risk from trees affected by Ash Dieback, Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. Unfortunately this disease is affecting many of the Ash trees across the country. This is another case of where nature and us humans will have to adapt and adjust to an ever-changing environment.

This said, there will now be opportunities created for other species and, hopefully, a natural resistance in Ash regeneration will occur in time.

Here’s hoping that the spring season brings great opportunities for us and our gardens as we set about tending and nurturing them.

Pictures by Matt Noyce.