Spring has at last broken the hold of winter and is bursting forth here in the Kitchen Garden in France.
This winter has seen some harsh weather across France, particularly along the Atlantic coast, but, at long last, down here in the south west, we are seeing more bright skies and sunshine than we are seeing the cold days of winter. For the past few days my thermometer, set well into the shade on the north face of a pillar, has not dipped below 10°C (50°F). Around the garden the Forsythia is bringing a welcome splash of intense yellow and the plum trees are just breaking forth with blossom. However, the winter has been about a month longer than usual. This is a picture of one of my Forsythia and it could have been taken today. It was in fact taken on February 22 in 2008, a whole month ahead of this year.
In the vegetable garden things are beginning to stir as well with both the Rhubarb and Artichokes pushing their heads above ground for a look at the new year.
The winter vegetables are plodding on with lots of brassicas still in the ground and the autumn plantings of garlic and leeks are now showing their mettle.
I'm not sad to see winter going away this year and will set it firmly behind me when I change my clocks to summertime tonight. This winter has seen me spending far more time than I wished away from the garden as I recovered from some health issues in the UK. Then, just as I returned, Hurricane Xynthia hit the west coast and I drove the several hundred miles south through appalling weather. Although, the problems for me pale into insignificance when looked at against the devastation caused in the Vendee region and the plight of the families of the numerous people who lost their lives.
Even after arriving home my problems were not yet behind me as a freak electrical problem on the local supply network caused everything in the house that was plugged in to have almost double the normal voltage thrown across it. This caused the irreparable failure of the central heating, phones, internet connections, satellite tv receiver and even some light fittings. In fact, it seems the only thing that survived was an old tungsten lamp which has not yet been replaced by it's low energy cousin. So much for progress.
So yes, I'm pleased to be warm again as daytime temperatures raise to the very pleasant 20's°C (70's°F), pleased to be cheered by the vibrant colours of shrubs and trees returning to the landscape and pleased to see that those delicate little plants I introduced to the world last year have sensibly, hidden away from the harsh winter and can now raise their heads and enjoy the bright spring days.
And I'm right there with them, enjoying the bright spring days.