I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
People often ask me: when is the best time to visit the garden at Gravetye, and it is such a difficult question to answer. There is always something special to enjoy in every season, but there are a few times which really stand out and when the daffodils are at their peek, in March, is one of them.
The start of spring has such a special feel, with so much energy and anticipation in the air and the carpets of brilliant yellow in our meadows announce its arrival and are one of the most beautiful features of the year. Daffodils are plants which really work best en masse and the great sweeps throughout the wild garden are made up of hundreds of thousands of individual plants. They were originally introduced by William Robinson nearly 130 years ago and over time have self seeded and thrived to make the stunning show we see today.
Most prolific is our native wild daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus
, with its slightly lemon yellow flower. But on closer inspection there are many more species dotted though the wild garden. Narcissus obvallaris
, the Tenby daffodil, is one which we have planted alot of over the last few years and have established quite successfully in the meadow grass of the orchard. It has a lovely buttercup yellow flower, and is quite rare in the wild, restricted to Pembrokeshire. Narcissus cyclamineu
s is probably one of my favourite and is looking wonderful at the moment, growing on the bank above the croquet lawn alongside Leucojum vernum
. It has a very distinct look with its swept back petals and I especially like the way it hangs its head, as though it’s feeling a bit shy.
The vibrant yellows offered by daffodils can sometimes seem like natures way of waking us up after a long grey winter, and is what makes them one of my favourite groups of plants. Seeing the first ones open, heralds the start of an exciting new growing season, and in the spring sunshine they really are a sight to be savoured.
I gazed - and gazed - but little though,
What wealth the show to me had brought:
Poetry from 'I wandered Lonely as a Cloud' by William Wordsworth.
You can read Tom's latest article in Country Life 'Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb' on our Press Page
Thursday 20th March
Garden Talk: Alexis Datta on Sissinghurst Castle Gardens
Alexis has spent an unbelievable 42 years as a professional gardener. Starting in the Parks Department as an apprentice and then attending Pershore College of Horticulture, she has worked in many gardens both public and private, the best known of them being Kensington Palace, Trentham Gardens and Cliveden. In 1991 she was appointed Assistant Head Gardener at Sissinghurst under Sarah Cook and on Sarah’s retirement in 2004 she became the head gardener for 9 years. Alexis will talk about the history of the property, about the creators of the garden, Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicolson, but also about the philosophy of the garden, its garden rooms and colour schemes, and how the garden is run today.
Gathering at 12.30pm for 1.00pm
£85.00 per head, aperitif, 3 courses and drinks inclusive.
For all those eager to read more regular updates from the garden, then we have good news. Our head gardener Tom and his team are delighted to launch the Gravetye Garden Blog. Packed full of pictures and information on their work at Gravetye - look out for Tom’s plant of the week, as well as posts from exciting contributors.