I walked into my kitchen today and was arrested by a scent at odds with the rain: that delicate, somehow slightly zingy fragrance of a blooming citrus tree, famous in literature, less experienced by myself, a child of the North.
My tree is small; I’ve had it for a year and a half. Six weeks or two months ago I repotted it for the first time. This tree seems to grow in fits and starts: one leaf, then a couple of months, then three leaves, then a year of it biding its time. Then two small buds started to form at the top. Several weeks later, the first ballooned. It didn’t open properly on its own; I tried to force it, and it bloomed, and was odoriferous, but nothing like as beautiful as the one that opened of itself today.
This is the time of year when things are blooming and luscious. The forsythia is brilliant yellow, glorious on a grey, misty, rain-drizzled day like today. The squill are still blue, wonderful under the magnolias — there’s one such along my walk to work, reminding me of one spring visit to Kew Gardens in London where the combination was superb. The pulmonaria — lungwort — are blue and purple and pink, sometimes all on the same plant. Hyacinths are blooming, and the grape hyacinths have started, as have the earliest tulips, mostly red ones at the moment.
And then there are the trees: some sycamore or maple relative has puffs of acid chartreuse, and the maples are hazy red. The large maple in the quadrangle of King’s College dropped a quantity of its blossoms in the rain, so it looked as if it had left its carmine skirts on the grass below it. (Changing for the late spring fashions, I suppose; leaves are in.) Others just have tiny fountains of new leaves spilling out of cracks in the buds, others yet are still tightly furled, like the pointed buds on the beeches.
The hostas range from half-unfurled to small points depending on the warmth of their location; same with the daylilies, the lilies of the valley, the Solomon’s seal. Periwinkle are blooming, a sea of purple groundcovers. The first bleeding-hearts (not the tall Dicentra spectabilis but the small feathery-leaved kind) are starting.
Not to be left too far behind the forsythia are other shrubs: the flowering quince have swelling buds of pink and coral and salmon nestled behind the leaves, so they look like a core of colour behind a green screen. The azaleas are starting to open in a magenta-purple as startling as the forsythia in the greyness; apart from in the Public Gardens, there don’t seem to be many other shades of azaleas planted in Halifax. Something I think may be called pieris has racemes of white flowers draped across it.
The cool rain keeps things fresh, and will bring much more to light with the next bit of sun. But indoors I’ll enjoy my single flower on the lemon tree.