Easter means lots of things to me. I am not religious, but it is a celebration I always enjoy. Easter and Spring are bound up with the sense of renewal, of making a fresh start and finally shaking off the gloom of winter. New Year, although technically the start of the year, always feels too bleak to me and comes as a false start rather than a joyous leap into action. This must in some part relate to the fact that the garden is dead in the winter. Every January I wonder whether I will actually bother with gardening again. But four months on and new shoots and unfurling leaves remind me that I love being in the garden and that this garden (which is fairly new to me) will gradually blossom into something lovely – though there is a lot of hard work to be done before that can happen.
For the last three Easters our garden has always smelt, if not looked, wonderful in the spring – the scent of the Clematis Armandii wafting in through open windows and, on the little lilac, wonderful cones of tiny buds awaiting their turn in May. Not this year though. On the first day of the Easter holiday there was no sign of the Armandii, the branches of the little viburnum I planted last summer were bare and the lilac looked as though it might give this year a miss. Off to Wales in a rain shower for a week of chocolate and walking and, unexpectedly, glorious sunshine, and we returned to find that spring had sprung.
Other reasons I enjoy Easter: each year it involves one birthday party and a spring-related birthday cake (the bunny at the top of the post was for Pin the Tail); a simnel cake; chocolate nests – which are something of a family tradition (my mother would make them for us every year); Lindt gold bunnies and finally, a mad dash around whichever garden is available in a frenzied search for little chocolate eggs. This year there were Easter bonnets too and a delicious dark chocolate Easter tart made by my friend Rachael.