Tattered tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies have emerged in the sunshine to stretch their wings after a winter’s hibernation in crevices in our outhouses. Still sleepy, they bask in the sunshine along the road. Above, with no other tree in leaf, the pussy or goat willows are having their moment of glory.

The silver-grey catkins, which first appeared in January, have burst into a riot of startling yellow pincushions. They were once known as goslings at this stage, because their colour and texture were like newly hatched geese. Against the pale blue sky, they shine like gemstones. Our tree appeared to be electrified by the colour and buzz of insects. Every conceivable type, from honey-bees to hoverflies, was feasting on the nectar.

Pussy willow got its name because the curled-up catkins were supposed to look like sleeping cats. The glittering branches have been used as ‘palms’ to decorate churches at Eastertide for many centuries. Later, when in leaf, the tree loses its lustre and becomes an unremarkable, scrubby tree, but the branches and leaves were a favourite food of goats, hence its second name. Having kept goats for many years, I am not sure why this willow above all others got the name. Our goats ate anything and everything.