Just call me Beatrix Potter

It’s time to come out of hibernation, shrug off the sweaters and enjoy what spring will bring – wildlife, greenery and plenty to do

Spring is here and not before time. If you’re anything like me and detest January and February, the arrival of warmer days and lighter nights is a blessed relief to the soul and to the senses. And after months when there is nothing green to see in the garden but a pile of yet-to-be-composted grass cuttings, the sudden glimpse of tiny leaves sprouting from a hawthorn tree is more uplifting to the spirits than a burst of the Hallelujah Chorus.

The wildlife has also got suddenly busy. Enormously fat wood pigeons are defying gravity and nest-building on the slenderest of branches. The hedgehog has been spotted doing his round-shouldered waddle across our lawn on slug watch. And call me Beatrix Potter but there can be no more cheering picture first thing in the morning than an upside-down squirrel raiding a bird-feeder, his cheeks bulging with plundered peanuts.

Spring brings joy to suburban plots like ours but for those whose job it is to maintain gardens open to the public, it brings a set of larger scale, though not entirely dissimilar tasks. For our gardening special this month, we visited Chatsworth, the Derbyshire ancestral home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, to see how they are preparing for the year ahead. We suggest a few ideas for brightening up your borders, lawns and patios in the shape of new furniture and ornaments.

And for those who prefer to be out and about on fine days, rather than squirrel-watching, we’ve selected some ideas for what to see and do, including some events now held to celebrate St George’s Day.