Saturday, 17 February 2018

Muddy wellies and lent lilies

My wellies might be the muddiest they've been since first treading on English soil, 
but yesterday I spotted daffodils in the dappled light of School Lane.

The European wild daffodil is also called the lent lily as it blooms concurrently with the lenten season. The smiling yellow faces of daffodils are such a welcome sight each year. Here in our village they cling to the damp banks of the brook, tall and proud, gazing at their reflection in the swirling water below them. I remember when we first moved here I really appreciated the great number of daffodils planted throughout this corner of Wiltshire. In just about every village we drove through, dense clumps of daffodils greeted us along the roadsides. To have the bright canary yellow colour spreading their cheer after a winter devoid of colour was such a joy to see. 

Spring is starting to creep in, tinging the air with warmth and sunshine, unhurried, but growing in strength with each passing week. Even the chickens agree.

More and more often my wanders up the lane to the farm gate are rewarded with fresh speckled eggs. Never uniform, but always eliciting a smile from me.

Kate  x

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Yew trees and snowdrops

Painswick had been on my 'to visit' list for well over a year. I'd been patiently waiting for snowdrop season to come around again before making the trip up into Cotswold heartland. Painswick is a handsome village, beautifully situated in the verdant Cotswold Hills, with renowned walking routes on the doorstep and stunning countryside views. She is the undisputed 'Queen of the Cotswolds'. 

Our main focus on this trip was seeing the famous snowdrop display at Painswick Rococo Garden. An impressive carpet comprised of millions & millions of tiny white blooms cascaded down slopes and spread through the wooded undergrowth of the garden. But unexpectedly, it was the yew trees in the churchyard of St Mary's that emerged as the highlight of our visit.

For a long time, 99 yew trees grew in this churchyard, and according to legend if a hundredth tree was to be planted the devil would destroy it. At the turn of the new millennium every parish in the diocese of Gloucester was presented with a yew tree to plant to mark the occasion. Parish officials faced a dilemma... 
Painswick was chosen to host the blessing of these trees as they were handed out to the various parishes. The 100th tree was planted at the start of the new millennium and, contrary to the often cited legend, is growing well. 

The trees are clipped every September, producing in excess of 2 tonnes of yew clippings. These clippings are actually used in the manufacture of an anti-cancer drug, specialist contractors are employed to process the clippings.

I look forward to a return visit one day, hopefully in late spring when the Cotswold Way is lush and overgrown with wildflowers and the day light stretches late into the evening. 

Kate  x

Friday, 9 February 2018

A secret garden

A garden unfurls its secrets month by month, 
as the seasons blossom, then ebb away.

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed 
and every morning revealed new miracles.” 
 Frances Hodgson Burnett

February is the last unknown month in our little patch of earth- a courtyard garden enclosed by a Cotswold stone wall, nestled deep within the By Brook Valley, and overlooked by soaring beech trees. From March, we'll start to cycle through the seasons again, this time with a year of knowledge behind us.

So, what has appeared this month?

Hundreds and hundreds of snowdrops. 

Defying the freezing nights and harsh frosts, they began to emerge before the new year had even begun. Now, with a touch of weak winter sun on their pure white faces, they sit gently nodding in unison in the frigid breeze. All around them signs of spring are following suit- the tips of bluebells, daffodils, narcissus and tulips are likewise pushing up through frozen ground and decaying leaf litter to greet the sunshine. A few aconites have popped their canary-yellow heads up amongst the bare branches of a fuchsia bush. Buds are appearing on the rose bushes and the snowball viburnum. Leaves are tentatively unfurling, slowly, but they're definitely there.

Next month I know the garden and the countryside will become a riot of bright yellows. Daffodils, forsythia, primrose and gorse will take centre stage, and the agricultural land around us will be awash with sunshine-yellow rapeseed. For now though, the snowdrops sit in their thousands, bobbing in the breeze.

Kate  x