The slatted wooden gate in front of me pulls open, counter-balanced by a square wood offcut suspended from a pulley wire. Old fashioned perhaps but that makes it rather charming and ensures it closes after me.

Several hazels grow towards me across the path, their slim branches rich with long pale catkins. A grass path weaves through and into a large glade of sorts and the smell of early spring, whether imagined or real, eddies in the air.

The path is wet and has not dried out for months and the group of tangled spindly grey trees off to the right are not yet giving out any hope of new colour. As I wind my way into the rose arbour, it has the promise of spring with tiny rose tipped ends to stems amongst the thorn marked branches. Despite the hard frosts many of the plants in the central beds seem to be sitting quietly but not beyond hope.

From the arbour, the walnut trees lead through the Six Sisters Walk where the long green leaves of daffodils and narcissi have emerged. In another week or two, there will be a flood of bright yellows and clear whites dancing on either side in light breezes.

At the end of the grass path, I decide to turn right along a path between some viburnums which, whilst they do not have a single green leaf, have the prettiest clusters of pink and white flower heads. Even better they are heavily scented.

The central avenue of beech trees is still biding its time. The grass here is both wet and long and I am not convinced my walking shoes are waterproof. Crossing over to the other side, I look for a new path we made this winter which wiggles through to another area of the woodland. Here Cornus Kousa, hibiscus, buddleias, potentilla and crocosmia form the theme of the planting: it is all about summer.

Lenten rose (Hellebores), planted around some older yew trees in what will become dappled shade, seem to be slowly spreading. Hellebores are a plant for a every garden but they have taken a while to get going here. Bright moss covered half decaying tree stumps are a home for a myriad of minute life and the dogs wonder if there might be something there for them. Tiny song birds create a musical accompaniment perched on the thinnest of branches high up on what might be a cherry tree. Their ability is always inspiring.

It has been a grey winter and grey times. Shakespeare wrote about the “freezings” we have all felt with the winter bareness everywhere and unremittingly gloomy news. However, just as this can bring us down, so the freshness and green shoots can lift our mood and gaze.

Every tree and shrub instinctively makes its own preparations for the spring ahead, something we humans would do well to emulate occasionally. Their world is not our world but it is the same world and brings its own peace and pleasure observing it. We depend on the forests and trees, oceans and rivers, soils, plants and animals to help us breathe, to shelter us, to provide us with food and even to guide us in happiness and health. We should cherish even the simplest parts of it.