Glowing Galanthus

Galanthus nivalis
Galanthus nivalis

          The Snowdrop – Lord Alfred Tennyson

          Many, many welcomes,

February fair-maid!

          Ever as of old time,

          Solitary firstling,

Coming in the cold time,

          Prophet of the gay time,

          Prophet of the May time,

          Prophet of the roses,

          Many welcomes,

          February fair-maid!


A Rose for Lent

Lenten Rose
Lenten Rose


The Canturbury Tales

Excerpt from Prologue of the The Clerks Tale

For goddes sake, as beth of bettre cheere!

It is no tyme for to studien heere.

Telle us som myrie tale, by youre fey!

For what man that is entred in a pley,

He nedes moot unto the pley assente.

But precheth nat, as freres doon in Lente,

To make us for oure olde synnes wepe,

Ne that thy tale make us nat to slepe.




For God’s sake, smile and be of better cheer,

It is no time to think and study here.

Tell us some merry story, if you may;

For whatsoever man will join in play,

He needs must to the play give his consent.

But do not preach, as friars do in Lent,

To make us, for our old sins, wail and weep,

And see your tale shall put us not to sleep.

Winter Solstice

And so the tipping point of the winter has arrived.

Even though, once more, we are coping with horrendous floods over most of the country and the talk is of the Mayan Doomsday Prophecy, the Sun rose in a clear sky this morning. The birds greeted the dawn with one of the loudest choruses I have heard in a long time and I am filled with the feeling of hope and the promise of things to come.

Sunrising on the Holly and Oak
Sunrising on the Holly and Oak

The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and the beginning of Winter, not much to celebrate there you might think, well think again. The coldest weather may still be to come but from today until the Summer Solstice on June 21st the days will lengthen and the sun will rise higher in the sky*.

The Oak King
The Oak King

I love the traditions and lore surrounding the Winter Solstice, the battle between the Oak and Holly Kings, with the Oak King winning to rule for the next six months. The Oak King represents a time of renewal and rebirth and growth. The Holly King, by contrast, represents a time of rest, contemplation and learning. Interestingly the Holly King is often described as a having white hair, a white beard, robes of red or green and driving a sledge pulled by stags (sound like anybody you know).

Arum italicum
Arum italicum

No matter what traditions you keep or if the solstice passes you by, the inescapable fact is that the the garden knows that Spring is on its way. The Arums have come to say hello,  the cleavers and cow parsley are now on standby. So whether you wassail or no, the garden may just be starting without you.

Cleavers and Cow parsley
Cleavers and Cow parsley

*For me the height of the sun is hugely important as my garden is at the base of a hill which casts a long shadow in the depths of winter.

Sun rising beneath the Oak
Sun rising beneath the Oak

So Happy Solstice here’s to Spring and the Promise of Things to Come .