This spring, it has seemed to me, has had fuller and more long lasting fruit blossoms than we have had for a few years. This is just a guess, actually. I have not measured anything, but the impression is very strong. Maybe I have just stopped longer to look at them, but everywhere I go at the moment I am aware of the cherry blossom. In Wales, there is a tradition that blackthorn (draenen ddu) is the harbinger of spring, and certainly around Bradwell, it is the first blossom to form, early in March (February this year), closely followed by the Pershore Plums that the Parks Trust have generously scattered along the redways and which provide lovely yellow, red and black fruit in July. They have both finished now. It was then the turn of the cultivated plums (my tree has shed all its blossom) and then the pears and finally, this year, the cherries, which are both still going strong. Apple blossom will be along in a bit, then those trees bred for their flowers not for the fruit. The cherry blossom everywhere has been wonderful and long lasting in Milton Keynes. This cycle is one of the most beautiful things about living in this city, where the abundance of trees means that you notice the seasons so much more.
Back in 1984, we went on a road trip from Cape Town, where we lived, to Bloemfontein, where we stayed with friends. One day, we drove to the kingdom of Lesotho, which I had visited two years previously. Apart from a bizarre incident at the border, where we failed to get our passports stamped with an entry visa (meaning the Lesotho border cops would not let us leave the country for South Africa in the evening because we had never actually entered Lesotho in the first place: I am lucky to be here, really), the most spectacular feature was the peach blossom that is found everywhere in the “lowlands” of the country (as the lowest point of Lesotho is higher than Ben Nevis, I use the term lowlands pretty loosely). For a poor country, subject to decades of not-terribly just rule, it was a sign of God’s blessing and promise, as blossom always is. The picture above gives you exactly the sort of abundance of blossom that I recall. Biologists doubtless know the exact purpose of blossom, but when the prophet says “though the fig tree does not blossom…” he is referring to the absence of hope for a nation. It is a sign of God’s renewed commitment to the earth and to humans and animals who eat the fruit, cook with it, dry it or otherwise preserve it. No matter the weather, this blossom comes, and sometimes, like this year, it comes with a flourishing that causes real excitement to me, whether as gardener, jam-maker or inveterate forager.