“Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.”
Robert Frost had it right. Instead of rushing through the year we should enjoy each moment. Every garden is a succession of moments and sometimes it is the unfussy aspects of nature which we allow into our gardens that we could not be without.
At this time of year the woods are carpeted with great washes of bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta). At Hodnet Hall one of the signature triumphs of the garden is the way that the formal spaces give way to more wild areas. It is a treat at this time of year to wander past the main pool where the narcissus has faded and peonies and roses wait to perform. To go beyond the ‘envelope’ of intensive cultivation and tread beneath an expanding canopy of oak, beech, sycamore and lime. The oaks have been planted closely together so instead of developing wide spreading crowns and extensive buttress roots as they do in parkland they grow thin and tall and surprisingly straight. The art of woodland gardening is to take advantage of the extra light before the upper story becomes too dense and shuts out light and moisture. It is in this niche that bluebells and other woodland plants choose to make their appearance.