For a cheering pick-me-up after a prolonged period of winter ‘blues’, come out into the garden and see what it’s been up to in the cold weather.
“A garden is for ‘delight’, for ‘sweet solace’, for ‘the purest of all human pleasures, the greatest refreshment for the spirits of men’. It is to promote ‘jocunditie of minde’, it is to ‘call home over-wearied spirits’.”
So say the old writers.
I don’t know about you, but after the past few months of winter and some rather trying circumstances I’m ready for some ‘jockunditie of minde’ for an ‘over-wearied spirit’, something a garden can supply in good measure!
The Dancing Daffodils
A good place to start is with the Wordsworths and the daffodils. Dorothy Wordsworth’s diary comments on that special moment when, after a wild and windy Maundy Thursday walk over the hills in 1802 with her brother William, they saw those famous daffodils by the lakeside at Ullswater. She writes that
“they tossed and reeled and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the lake, ever glancing, ever changing “
As we all know, later William wrote those famous words in his oft quoted poem:
“A host of golden daffodils……….And then my heart with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodils.”
We have had daffodils dancing since the end of November cheering us with their patches of bright yellow sunshine in a cold winter garden – John Clare’s ‘Sweet earthly suns of spring’. On frosty nights the flowers are prostrate on the grass is if killed by the frost, but by the morning with a rise in temperature they stand up erect again. Where would our gardens be without these dependable stalwarts?
In the garden yellow always lifts the spirits and the sunshine always radiates from a yellow planting – just the cheering tonic for a cold winter or early spring day.
As well as the daffodils the winter garden has been full of yellow. Mahonias in December, Aconites in January, Mimosa (last year’s photo above), crocuses and Cornus mas in February. Even the odd dandelion and patch of celandines adds a sparkle of fun, though beware, they may start to take you over unless checked.
These hardy snowdrops, the ‘harbingers’ of spring and the brave little Cyclamen coums have had their fling in January-February. Then they hand over to the crocuses – the next in line as if in a country dance and the sequence continues.
February was the crocus month. These lovely Crocus tommasinianus, busily trying to take over our front lawn, are a midwinter delight. You have to smile when you see them basking in the sunshine revealing their charm and beauty. Their colour complements and goes so well with the daffodils – a perfect pairing. The books say these can be invasive, but who cares when they bring such a wonderfully welcome invasion!
The unfurled shoots of the Euphorbias are standing proud like a flock of sheep. Soon these will unfurl into lovely columns of lime green flowers a foot or more high – one of the prima- donnas of the dance.
“All nature seems at work. Slugs leave their layer, the bees are stirring, the birds are singing and winter slumbering in the open air wears on his smiling face a dream of spring! And I, the while, the sole unbusy thing, no honey make, nor pair, nor bud, nor sing .”
from ‘Work Without Hope.’ by S.T.Coleridge
The music has started. The garden is on the move again and full of promise. It’s time for us gardeners to join in the dance. There’s sowing and planting to do and outside the spring countryside beckons.
Do begin to enjoy your garden if you have one.