We all know that some small mammals hibernate through the winter. Hedgehogs, dormice and most bats pump themselves up in the autumn then snooze away all winter and are now starting to wake up and resume life, just as the Lenten Roses, Helleborus orientalis (pictured) are coming into flower. Those of us in the garden centre world know that many of our customers appear to follow a similar pattern, though maybe not fattening themselves up, except at Christmas. Our evidence for this is that just around now so many of our customers are back in circulation, – we haven’t seen them since daffodil planting time.

Some of our visitors have chosen to migrate for the winter, mostly to Spain and the south of France. These new arrivals are easily distinguished by their glowing tan and the euros that tumble from their pockets at our tills.

The garden centre team have been busy preparing for the new spring garden season. We have built new plant benches to replace some of our older benches, and got through many litres of Cuprinol to brighten all the woodwork. Amanda and her team have created new displays for our gift ranges and the artificial flowers (so useful where real flowers are not suitable). We have also replaced most of our lighting with energy efficient LED lighting to reduce our carbon footprint. Hal and his team in the Pet & Aquatic Centre have prepared the tank ready for the Koi carp that will be arriving shortly.

Spring for me means new life all around. Early in the morning as I walk out into our plant area I like to stand quietly and listen. We are only 10 minutes walk from the centre of Bath and yet I can be surrounded by bird song. I cannot identify all the species, I just know that many and varied tiny birds are singing their hearts out, and it’s magic. I look up at the trees we have planted around us over the last forty years, and I watch the buds breaking and leaves in many shades of green appearing day by day, each species seems to have its own time slot. The willows start early, the ash trees keeping their pointed black buds hard shut for a number of weeks yet, all perfectly synchronised.

Every year the thrill and wonder of spring for me is the same.