Brilliantly, there are buds bursting out everywhere, some so new that the change takes you by surprise.

There’s blossom around too. I’ve seen wedding-ready cherry, but only by the side of the road.

I brought a crab apple tree last autumn. It was in the bargain bin at the tree nursery and would have been about eight foot tall had its top two feet not been hanging down limp and useless after being snapped not-quite-off. The injury was dark and dry and had clearly happened months before.

I felt sorry for it, sad that it had been relegated to the reduced area; unloved and neglected.

Since when did I anthropomorphise plants?!

At a basic level, we have feelings for other living things. Nature’s beauty makes us feel happy. Often, we feel grateful for it. Look and wonder.

I regularly swear at the ivy that’s currently strangling my berberis hedge. Perhaps it knows and sneers back at me, with heightened persistence?

Most of the winter, in fact from shortly after planting it, friends and family have looked at the crab apple (with its broken top lopped off, tidy and ready for a fresh start) and asked gently and kindly, ‘do you think it will it be ok?’,

‘It looks rather dead, doesn’t it?’,

And more recently,

‘That tree’s dead, by the way.’

‘Definitely dead. Looks weird.’

I think part of me had become afraid to look.

Well, ahah!

Yesterday, overwhelmed by the buds that were bursting out elsewhere, and encouraged by the dance of snowdrops that hadn’t dried out after all, I stopped and scrutinised the frankly awkward-looking remaining branches.

They are covered in energetic leaf buds.

My patience has been rewarded and the crab apple is clearly demonstrating gratitude for the faith I’ve shown in her.