HANNAH FINCH: Gardeners are emerging from winter and allotments are abuzz with chatter
THERE have been a few surprises with the emergence of spring bulbs.
You often forget what you've planted by the time they reveal themselves months later.
There are the snowdrops, of course.
The single species Galanthus nivalis have been slowly colonising over years.
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But it was with genuine glee I lifted one snowdrop with petals shorter and wider than the rest to see a double whirl of white and green within.
I remember these doubles now, that I planted way back in September, and with some uncertainty that they would show themselves this year.
But they have, not in huge numbers, and now I have started looking, I can see them everywhere.
I have never noticed before the stripy foliage of the first crocuses.
The needle-thin leaves cluster within a gauze outer which protects them from the weight of the wet soil.
There is strength in those bundles when they emerge above ground.
And the gardeners are emerging too.
The Torquay South Parks allotments were bustling with activity on the first bright day of spring last week.
Doors and windows of garden sheds which had been firmly shut over winter were wide open. There were women working in vests and men had shirt sleeves rolled up in the afternoon sunshine.
They were digging and raking, cutting back and filling the composters.
And there was chatter — talk among gardeners is a lovely thing.
They speak the same language, babble about things like soil temperature, sets and first earlies.
Often gardening is a solitary business and I enjoy the stillness which comes in the midst of focused activity.
But there is so much to be said for sharing experience, picking over the boulders and stones.
They are kindred spirits who, like you, notice the blackbird singing in the hazel tree, or that the wild daffodils are coming out — and the first ramsons (wild garlic).
I have debated the merits of pelleted chicken manure over cow dung, been told about must-see botanical gardens and reminisced about plants I used to own.
There are shared dreams about the flat bare earth which lies before us, and what may populate this place in the months to come.
I have ripped open seed packets and handed half over in exchange for some shallots or broad beans.
A neighbour has lifted congested clumps there and then and I have hobbled back to my own garden with heaving carrier bags.
These are timeless connections. With each other and with the earth.