I would be hard-pushed to choose my favourite season; all of them have their own special qualities and characteristics but, if I had to pick one, I would plump for spring. The gradually lengthening days, the unique brilliance of the sunlight and the promise of warmer days ahead (even if the thermometer still hovers around the lower reaches) make for a time of irresistible optimism.
And how can you not be optimistic when everything around is coming back to life or starting a new life? Plants that have laid dormant over the winter push back their duvets of soil and stretch out towards the sun; bulbs that have slept since the autumn burst into flower seemingly overnight; and seeds, newly planted, begin their astonishing transformation from teeny dot to mature plant in a matter of weeks.
In my garden, the plum tree is in bloom and the rhubarb is unfurling…
And my beloved lovage – which fools me every winter into thinking it has died – has reappeared, stronger than ever. This was a cutting from a huge, well-established plant in my previous garden. I brought its offspring with me when we moved to this cottage two years ago. I had no idea if it would survive, but survive and thrive it has.
Saute a chopped onion in some sunflower oil until soft but not browned. Chuck in a couple of chopped potatoes and a small handful of roughly chopped, young, fresh lovage leaves. Add 500ml or so of vegetable stock, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. Whizz in a blender until almost smooth, but still with a little texture. Add more liquid (stock or water) if needed. Season to taste. Add a swirl of cream or yoghurt if you fancy.
I am determined that our vegetable plot will be more productive this year than it was last (my fault entirely) and I have already got more than my five-a-day under way. We have rich soil which is full of juicy worms so there is no excuse! We live in the driest part of the UK though, so I will be calling on my three water butts to keep my seeds watered as they grow.