Friday, 11 May 2007

'Bluebells, cockle shells, eevy ivy over...'

On Sundays after church, my Dad and I enjoyed going for walks in the countryside. One very memorable walk happened each year in the month of May. After two miles or so, we eventually came to a single-track road, which meandered down through a secluded part of the countryside into a valley, quite hidden from prying eyes.

About halfway down, just as we turned a bend in the road, there suddenly came into view a carpet of fragrant bluebells growing under a canopy of silver birch trees. As an eight-year-old, standing on that steep incline, looking up at those bluebells, I felt intoxicated, as if I had stepped straight into an illustration in one of my magical fairy books.
So strong was the impact of that memory, that, as an adult, I had no trouble persuading, first my husband, and then, our children, to go on little pilgrimages to see the floor of the wood covered in bluebells. Just as happened all those years before, the fragrance of the bluebells would greet us before we had actually caught a glimpse of the flowers.
No surprise, therefore, when given the opportunity of creating a garden here at Barleycorn, that I wanted to recapture that memory by paying homage to the bluebells, in a little bed entirely devoted to them. And keeping them company? Why, a canopy of silver birch trees, of course.
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went,
And cannot come again.
Housman

22 comments:

Dawn said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the bluebells. What a sweet legacy to pass along to your children. I've often seen photographs of bluebells covering the floor of the wood, as you say. It does indeed look magical! Wish I could smell the fragrance as well. Thanks too for your beautiful photographs -- complete with cute cats -- and your lovely watercolors. You are a talented artist.

Regards,
Dawn

A wildlife gardener said...

Thank you for your very kind words, Dawn. When an experience is seered into the memory, it's difficult not to want to repeat the happy feeling it gave, so growing bluebells in our garden helps me keep the memory.

smilnsigh said...

Beautiful. Beautiful.

And since you've recreated it, in your own garden... Houseman isn't really correct. You can come again! :-)

Mari-Nanci

Karen said...

Bluebells are magical, whether in a woodland setting or a special corner of the garden. We have a carpet of them in our front garden and the colour complements the fresh spring green of shrub foliage just now.
Your paintings are beautiful!

RUTH said...

I too have fond memories of Bleubells. Each year as a child we would visit Bluebell Woods (real name unknown). Lovely art work too.

A wildlife gardener said...

Hello, Ruth. It seems that bluebell woods make an unforgettable impression on people, as well as transforming the landscape of the woodland floor, and I certainly found that. The painting is part of a larger one I did a few of years ago of the bluebell bed in the garden. Thank you for your kind words.

Mark said...

H, I think you are right about blubells, there is something magical about them and this year they are better than ever and seem to be bluer.
Love the watercolour too it has got a nice Spring feel to it.
Cheers Mark

Bimbimbie said...

Hello, I followed the path from Nature Girl, so glad I did - beautiful garden what a feast for the eyes *!*
Will linger a while longer and soak all the gorgeousness in.

Annie

A wildlife gardener said...

Hello, Mark, thank you for introducing yourself and for your generous comments about my painting.

Hello, bimbimbie, nice to meet you. Please feel welcome to stay a while.

Mark said...

Hi Nanook of the North, It is not to great down here at the moment, plenty of rain though. Dont worry you will soon be down to 4 layers.
I have added your link would you like to exchange?
Cheers Mark

A wildlife gardener said...

Hi, Mark! I've added your blog to mine. We can commiserate about our different climates...You can visit my garden when you are thirsty due to a water shortage...and I'll visit yours on hot sunny days, when my gardening days are non-existent due to our heavy rainfall!

Mark said...

I would love to on one condition, that you keep your midgies.

We never got as far as a hosepipe ban last year and i think we should be o.k.this year with it being a wet Winter.

Thank you for the link.

Cheers Mark

Ziggywigs said...

What wonderful photographs, the cat was really nice too! I bet the smell was divine walking through that bluebell copse. How lovely of you to share with us all.

A wildlife gardener said...

Hello, ziggiwigs, nice of you to visit again. It's true what they say about certain smells because whenever I smell bluebells I am that little girl once more, standing on that brae, looking up under the trees at the blue carpet, all the while holding onto my Dad's hand.

Sheila said...

Gorgeous blue flowers! Whatever the variety they always captivate me.
Your photos are lovely...but your painting is fabulous!

A wildlife gardener said...

Hi, Sheila! They are lovely flowers, aren't they? Thank you kindly for the compliment about my painting.

A wildlife gardener said...

Hello, Karen, welcome to our little corner of paradise. I'd love to see some of your great photographs showing your bluebells. Thank you for the lovely comment about my painting.

Thalia said...

Dear Wildlife gardener, the bluebells look lovely. I really liked your painting too.

A wildlife gardener said...

Thank you for your very kind words, dear Thalia.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Childhood memories are so strong and stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Love those bluebells; their scent, their colour, their shape and the inpact they have when you see so many of them. Absolutely wonderful.

Thanks for sharing those lovely pics, your painting and your memories.

PS Give that cute kitty a cuddle from me. :-)

A wildlife gardener said...

Welcome, Yolanda Elizabet, and thank you for those thoughtful and very kind comments. So much of what I grow in my garden has been informed by happy memories of people who have made a big impression in my life, as well as those unforgettable first sightings of particular flowers.

I like to think I am rounding the circle by sowing seeds, thinning them out, potting them up and planting them on, watching them bloom, taking photographs of them, and finally sitting down to paint them, either in situ en plein air, or, in inclement weather, indoors from the photographs. Then I make little cards of the paintings to give to family and friends.

Taz is growing very attached to me now. He jumps up on the kitchen table and snuggles his head under my chin and purrs like a motor-bike!

A wildlife gardener said...

Welcome, bimbimbie, and thank you for introducing yourself. I do appreciate your compliments, thank you. Please, feel free to visit again.