Lambs gambol in green fields and vivid yellow daffodils nod their heads in the still sharp breeze. But spring is pushing secretly forward: the shy violet shows its tiny face and butter-coloured primroses pepper hedge-banks. Green shoots promise lush carpets of deep-purple bluebells that will soon contrast with the newly unfurled acid-green leaves on the trees that tower above them.
Quiz of the month
1. Which artist was born on March 30, 1853?
2. Which games were traditionally played in March throughout Lent?
3. Which flower that appears in March is also known as the Lent lily?
Sardines, sorrel, parsley and purple-sprouting broccoli
Finish with the peaches you canned last year with cream
A sparkling mojito
This refreshing concoction, which is the unofficial national drink of Cuba, will remind you that spring is well and truly in the air
6 fresh mint leaves
2-3oz white rum
1tsp of lime juice,
plus sliced lime to garnish
Soda water and ice
Crush leaves in the bottom of a glass. Pour in the rum, lime juice and sugar. Add ice, stir and top with soda water.
To the New England Beach House (www.luxurycountryrentals.com; £3,900 for a week in March),
a startlingly beautiful holiday property right on the beach near Angmering-on-Sea in West Sussex. As well as glorious uninterrupted sea views, the house-which sleeps 12-has two outdoor baths, a hot tub and a decked open-air dining area.
Walk this way
Take a gentle 15-minute stroll along the pebbly beach from Angmering-on-Sea to South Ferring. Or head to nearby Petworth House, where visitors can explore the 700-acre deer park every day from 8am until dusk.
The month in words
‘When rosy plumelets tuft the larch, And rarely pipes the mounted thrush; or underneath the barren bushFlits by the sea-blue bird of March’ Alfred, Lord Tennyson, In Memoria
March 2-July 20 Tosca at The Royal Opera House, London (www.roh.org.uk)
March 2-3 Thoresby Country Fair, Nottinghamshire (www.livingheriage
March 9-10 West Country Game Fair, Royal Bath & West Showground, Somerset (www.westcountrygamefair.co.uk)
March 12-15 Cheltenham National Hunt Festival, Cheltenham Race-course, Gloucestershire (www.cheltenham.co.uk)
Last chance to see Aladdin, Birmingham Royal Ballet, on tour (February 15-March 24; www.brb.org.uk)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Royal Opera House, London (March 15-April 13; www.roh.org.uk) Book now
Tickets for Royal Ascot, June 18-22 (www.ascot.co.uk)
Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at Bury Court Barn near Farnham, Surrey, on March 8, 10, 12 and 16 (www.burycourtopera.co.uk)
The Wood-landers by Thomas Hardy
Akenfield by Ronald Blythe
Jobs in the garden
* Divide cranesbills-use a knife to slice away little groups of shoots with roots attached. Line the plantlets out in nursery fashion, label and hoe
*Divide snowdrops-use a trowel to lift the bulbs, tease them apart and replant the individual bulbs at the same depth
* Plant first early potatoes-place chitted seed potatoes rose-end up, 1ft apart. With a draw hoe, pull soil up over the rows to form a pointed ridge.