After what has been one of the mildest winters ever recorded it is perhaps a little surprising that spring hasn’t been and gone already. Before Christmas the news was full of reports of daffodils in bloom in December – months early. Yet despite those early arrivals, in most places spring blooms seem to be going on and on, lasting longer than I can recall for quite some time.
Here in Cornwall it feels a bit like an outdoor version of the Chelsea Flower Show where you would see all the spring flowers, from the earliest snow drops through to the latest flowering daffodils all in bloom in the same marquee. For Chelsea this artificial mash up of the seasons is achieved through human intervention. Plants are kept from flowering by storing them in fridges or brought into flower early by putting them in heated greenhouses. But this spring here in Cornwall, nature has created its own all-in-one springtime display – all thanks to global warming most probably.
The gardens at Cotehele are absolutely bursting with early, mid- and later spring flowers everywhere you look. In the woods and natural embankments there are sparkling white woodland anenome and tiny snowdrops, bright waxy yellow petals of celandine stretch out to welcome the warmth of the spring sunshine and clusters of pale yellow primroses cling to steep banks and bring a smile to my face, they transport me back to our wedding day two years ago when the grounds of the wedding reception venue were filled with their blooms to celebrate our marriage.
Among the acer glade in the garden, fritillaries bob their purple checkerboard bonnets amongst the plain white versions of the same flower. Just around the corner amongst the camellias and azaleas with their big bright pink and red flower heads are drifts of bluebells – neither plant seems to be the slightest bit bothered by their technicolor clash of hues.
Surrounding the solid stone walls of the house the daffodils abound in every shade of yellow from the palest almost white to ones that are virtually neon. In a corner, almost tucked away behind a garden gate leading through to the upper garden is a drift of bright pink cyclamen. So slight and delegate and yet brighter than the pinkest of lipsticks that you could possibly imagine.
The highlight of this gardens spring sensation awaits in the old orchard. Among the gnarled branches of these aged apple trees (the branches so covered in moss and lichen that you wonder if they are still alive) is a living horticultural history book. Clusters of heritage daffodils flow amongst the fruit trees, their golden blooms almost like a thousand miniature suns lighting the orchard. Their names displayed in chalk on slates ‘Van Sion’, ‘Baths Flame’, ‘Sulphur Pheonix’ and my favourite ‘Butter and Eggs’ so rare, they could so easily have been lost if it weren’t for the sterling work of those preserving these flowers for us and future generations to enjoy.