We reaped our first harvest of 2014 from the carpet of wild garlic beneath the hazel trees and their nodding catkins. The wild garlic grows in a dense carpet of almost translucent green and is, to me, the most luxuriant of all nature’s verdant colour palette. On warm days, you can smell the garlic before you can see it. Back in the kitchen, we made jars of pesto from the pungent leaves-our two sons at university are especially fond of it as it adds flavour to their cost-conscious, bland diets. We add it to lamb or fish and make pasta sauces.

It’s been notable this year how many butterflies, especially the yellow brimstones, have been fluttering around, but it’s the number of bumblebees that have brought the greatest surprise. Many people have commented to me on their numbers. However, Sunday saw the heaviest hailstorm I’ve ever witnessed in Britain and pea-sized hails tore off the heads of many of the daffodils. However, it was nothing compared to the storm we were once caught in near Sydney, Australia, in which plum-sized hails left our car with 1,000 pockmarks and smashed hundreds of windows in the area. I hope our bumblebees survived Sunday’s onslaught.

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