TS Eliot wrote that April is the cruellest month in his epic poem, The Wasteland – one of my favourite poems which, when I read it again and again, I see other connotations, other meanings, other visions.
Yet, conversely, it is the months of April and May that I look forward to the most in my relatively new life in the country. The sense of regrowth, of renewal giving hope that the year will bring a good harvest in one way or another – leaving the woes of winter behind and looking towards the brighter light of the summer sun and skies of blue.
So when my calendar hits April, I know that the heads of nodding daffodils and resilient tulips will give way to the intense yellow of Hampshire’s rape fields. Its sometimes suffocating scent can be ignored as you gaze out over the startling beauty of brilliant yellow juxtaposed against surrounding green fields, dissecting the landscape.
At the same time, there’s the awe-inspiring carpets of blue violet as the bluebells start to blossom in the woods.
The Hound adores bounding through the flowers as we head through the bluebell walks of Hampshire and Surrey and as we are accompanied by large numbers of fellow dog walkers, it’s obvious we all share the same pleasure in seeing swathes of blue velvet as we meander through the woodlands.
In the urban landscape of our towns, spring also brings in the cherry blossom – the frothy white and pink flowers which we have come to love almost as much as the Japanese.
There’s no-where better to see the blossom at its best than St James’s Park, just in front of Buckingham Palace. This is perhaps my favourite of London’s Royal Parks – a real oasis away from the busy thoroughfare of Piccadilly.
All of these, of course, point to the summer months when the fields of lavender come to life in Southern England.
Lavender is one of my favourite plants and its oil – as I’ve recently discovered on a trip to the farms in Provence, has an incredible range of uses.
So yes, though for many allegorical reasons, April may well be the cruellest month, it’s still my personal favourite.
Contributor & photographer: Sue Lowry