Waking to a widespread frost may feel as if spring is still far away. But the seasons are slowly shifting. While we still shiver to keep warm, it may seem that milder days are still far away. But the signs of change are all around us. Slowly at first before gathering pace. In February day length is beginning to accelerate. Each day just a few minutes longer. But that tiny change is detected by legions of plants and animals. Snowdrops are some of the first wildflowers to raise their nodding white heads, while a dazzling display of daffodils is not far away. This is the season I always look forward to, along with a veritable army of eager earth movers and planters, the gardeners. Many moons ago I worked with some of the best-known gardeners on television. Visiting the most beautiful gardens in Britain. For me, more used to the wild world this was new ground, where I found talented people not just doing a job with passion, but for them this was a way of life. During the coldest wet and windy days, they spend their time planning, preparing, and planting in anticipation of warmer, longer days. Constantly looking forward to enjoying the results of their endeavours. Gardeners are special people with vision, patience and often oodles of energy, seldom sitting still while a spare piece of soil remains bare. When summer days eventually arrive, they can enjoy the most spectacular results literally buzzing with life. There is nothing more a gardener enjoys than sharing their efforts with others.

We are lucky here in the relatively mild southwest of England. Where apart from the high moors, winter seldom seems to start too early or linger too long. The surrounding seas remain relatively warm, giving us a good head start, as a wave of warmth eventually spreads from the far southwest. Travelling across cliff headlands, woods and fresh water, fields and sheltered valleys, the vibrance of spring sweeps across the country. Although sometimes hesitant at first, coming and going as the wind blows seemingly from every direction. However, some places bathe in the coming warmth well before others. Although islands take a battering during the worst winter weather, they are usually the first place to see spring burst back into life. The Isles of Scilly, lying some 28 miles southwest of Land’s End, can claim England’s only true subtropical shore. Here frosts are rare and snow a remarkable event. Often said to be more Caribbean than Cornwall because before winter leaves the mildest parts of the southwest, daffodils are swaying in the sea breeze. Knowing that, Spring does not seem so far away.


Andrew Cooper

Picture: Daffodils in the Isles of Scilly.

Andrew Cooper was the first BBC film maker to feature the wildlife of the Isles of Scilly and then managed to convince BBC Television and Books that they needed a new documentary of the islands every 10 ten years. An unbelievably beautiful place.