Spring is sprung

Every year I feel myself being pulled out of the doldrums of The Long Brown Northumbrian Winter by the first signs of spring. Birds wake me up, green buds abound and the lawn goes from static to crazy; oh, for the smell of the first-cut grass.  Spring has got to be everyone’s favourite thing, hasn’t it?

The willow is well on its way to becoming green on the wedding lawn, having towered crazily tall after a year of neglect. Archie, Ollie and Jock did an amazing job cutting everything back during their Easter holidays (thank you!) and weaving the young shoots down, so by the end of May it will be rippling in thick waves in the breeze again.

We’ve been enjoying young nettles in risottos and smoothies recently. I’ve mentioned them before because they are so versatile, so do go and forage some and give them a go. 

I’m fortunate to be writing this on a beach in Crete where we enjoyed a bowl of what the Greek call bitter greens with lemon and olive oil last night. I don’t know what they were, but they felt nourishing. I imagine the grandmother of the house may have foraged them (a romantic notion, but why not?).

Restaurant Pine at Vallum have planted rainbow chard for us in the Kitchen Garden. At weddings, we use the big leaves to serve freshly carved roast meats on long bamboo boards. They look so decadent and we only have a month or so now until they’ll be ready. 

I saw a clip online of someone planting a slice of tomato in compost, and away came the plants really quickly. I’ll still go to Tom and Joe’s in Wylam for my own garden seedlings. Dorothy looks after us and even comes up to do the herb and flower pots on the Marquee decking.  

It’s so good to be away in the sun. Even if the sea’s cold (we’re by a river and there’s snow in the mountains) and there’s a pretty strong breeze. The contrast with Northumberland and the winter we’ve left behind is heaven. 

Happy growing – and if you have any photos of your efforts and you’re on Instagram, share them with me @vicmoffitt and with this fine magazine @appetitemaguk 

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