Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Kerry McLean: Despite my inability to keep any leafy thing alive, I've an unexplainable urge at the first sign of spring to spend a month's wages on seeds and bulbs...

By Kerry McLean

It's been a long old winter, hasn't it? I'm not one for dramatics, but I had started to identify with Mr Tumnus, the talking faun from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Partially due to the hairy legs - it's been far too cold to shave off what homegrown insulation I've got on my lower limbs - but mostly because, like the characters in Narnia, it feels like we've been frozen in a perpetual winter.

That feeling faded somewhat this week when the sun shone for an amazing two consecutive days and I allowed myself to believe that spring was finally on its way. The Earth is once more giving itself a bit of a scratch and a stretch and is on the verge of wakening up. I know for many people this season is just the warm-up act for the main entertainment, summer, but if I had to choose between the two, spring would always come out on top.

There's something very exciting and simultaneously touching about the world warming up, new plants and newborn animals raising their heads to the sky and everything having that feeling of starting afresh. Plus, there's the added bonus that at this time of the year, you can enjoy a sunny day fully clothed, with no expectation of having to get your kit off and expose your white-as-a-sheet wobbly bits in a swimsuit.

Sitting in the garden, watching Mother Nature at her busiest time of the year, makes you feel like you're connected to the world and part of the bigger picture, just another of her creatures, ploughing your own furrow through the field of life. These mornings are still pretty much freezing, but I'm loving that once the school run is done, I can open the back door, let some of that crisp morning air into the house and, once we're happed up, the toddler and I are out and roaming around the greenery. I'm a great believer in fresh air for wee ones.

As soon as the daffodils make their cheerful appearance, its thermals on, waterproofs over the top, wellies next (hopefully on the right feet given that my very independent two-year-old insists on putting them on herself) and off, out and into the backyard.

It's at this time every year that I have an unexplainable urge to head to the nearest garden centre and spend a month's worth of wages on seeds and bulbs, compost and pots and a pair of impractical but pretty gardening gloves. The feeling is unexplainable because history should have taught me that I'm not so much green-fingered as black-fingered. I have an inability to keep any leafy thing alive.

This despite growing up with a mother who grew all her own vegetables for years. Her garden is full of beautiful, gorgeously scented flora, with roses, wisteria, sweet pea and even lemon trees all part of the mix.

Her skills sadly did not pass on with her DNA, and my garden is the plant equivalent of the elephant's graveyard - it's where green things come to die. Pay a visit to my house you'll discover myriad pots and hanging baskets, long since emptied of the poor flowers they came with, all quickly dispatched thanks to my lack of gardening knowhow.

But all that is about to change as I've discovered a beginner's gardening course that I'm sure will convert me into a shorter female version of Monty Don. Give me a few months and I'll be giving Kew Gardens a run for its money.

My gardening ability isn't the only aspect of my life I'd like to transform at the minute. This feels like the right time of year to implement some alterations. I know New Year's Eve is traditionally the occasion for making resolutions, but I think spring, so full of hope and ambition for what lies ahead, is a better bet.

It feels as though the new beginnings we see all around us in nature can be echoed in our own lives. All we have to do is be brave and, like baby birds leaving the nest for the first time, resist the urge to look down and aim for the sky.

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