Over the last two or three weeks each day has begun a little earlier. Drawing back the curtains reveals an eddying mist with angled sunlight filled with promise. I am not entirely a morning person but the sunshine makes it so much easier to persuade myself that I should be getting out of bed. The dogs have no such reticence and are firmly convinced that I would love to take them out to the gardens for a walk immediately.
The sudden warm weather means that some of the early spring flowers and blossoms have appeared almost overnight. Brown boughs are filled with blossom and slopes of grass with ribbons of colour. Every day, each step is filled with something new.
Part of the joy for both Geordie and I at this time of year is that we can begin to see the effect of the several hundred thousand bulbs we have organised to be planted over the last 15 years. Initially, Geordie started ordering 1000 daffodils or 500 crocii at a time and then laboriously planted them by hand with the help of the gardeners. He then discovered a marvellous Dutchman, Michael Lubbe, who plants 10,000 bulbs in two to three hours with his machine.
Over the years we have become more confident, filling the machine with all sorts of bulbs to give us pleasure over a much longer time frame and planting in swirls and curves rather than our first, rather stiff, straight lines. As well as snowdrops, daffodils, narcissi and tulips, we have anemones, crocuses, early camassias and fritillaries. Having such diversity not only offers more options in terms of design and colour but also helps the wildlife.
For any home but particularly one like Highclere, how and where it fits into the landscape is as important as the decoration of any one room. It seems extraordinary that it is already a year ago that I was sitting writing about spring for my book “Seasons at Highclere”, trying to paint in words descriptions of the various gardens here, both current and past and listing the plants. Taking photos of both the sweeps of view and detail nooks to fill the book with light and colour for this spring.
This weekend the clocks went forward an hour in the UK signalling the official start to spring. The mornings will now gradually become lighter earlier each day until we reach the summer equinox, drawing us outside after the winter and inevitably lifting our spirits and helping us feel more energetic.
As spring develops, not only is there more colour for the eye but the sounds change too. Garden birds perch ambitiously on the topmost branches of budding trees. I find it rather magical that such tiny creatures, any of which could sit in the palm of my hand, produce such complex songs with different phases.
Apparently, it is mainly the male birds who sing in order to demonstrate how healthy and strong they are and thus attract a mate and begin to make a nest. For the rest of us, the dawn chorus is a reassuring alarm clock both for each day and the cycle of the year. Personally, I find it a relaxing, almost sensory experience in comparison to the stressful cacophony of our everyday lives where even the washing machine seems to shout and beep too often.
Sadly for the birds and ourselves, I gather the rather lovely weather will not last. This is England after all but I hope it is just showery rather than regressing back to winter conditions. We need to prepare for spring visitors of our sort, not just the feathered residents of the Castle and Sally from the gift-shop’s reminder that it snowed on her wedding in April is not helpful.
Dear Lady Carnarvon
Moving forward no doubt. Thank you for the thought of Spring with Easter around the corner.
Very best wishes
Lady Carnarvon, so beautifully written and the photographs are stunning. You never fail us each and every Monday. Heartfelt thank you. Cheryl.
My sentiments exactly, Cheryl. My deepest thanks, Lady Carnarvon!
Wishing you and yours a blessed spring,
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
How I look forward to Monday afternoon to read you stories. Always lifts me up and puts a smile on my face. Thank you
Your gardens are an oasis of peace and beauty matched perfectly to the grandeur of your home. May you have a successful season as we all endure these trying times.
Lovely as ever. Let’s hope spring comes soon – we all need the warmer temperatures and sunshine. Happy Easter.
All best wishes
I dream of fields of thousands of spring flowers, but alas, we have sold our farm to move into the family home on a lake. My mother-in-law, who passed away a year ago, left a legacy of bulbs. On Christmas day we had vases of paper whites that bloom in our mild weather. February gave us a sprinkling of jonquils, and last week a hyacinth surprised us next to the shed! Her 20+ azalea shrubs have burst into bloom this week. I shall continue my mother-in-law’s tradition of planting bulbs each winter so hopefully our children and grandchildren will enjoy the spring as I do!
That is a lovely tradition
How beautiful. I wish I had a green thumb. Happy Easter.
Thank you for another great web site.
Please , what is the lovely white tree in the last picture. Thank you so much for your stories, which I enjoy so much, and for the information you provide. Take care and enjoy your spring …
Waking up early here in Seattle due to a sick dog, on the west coast of North America where it is still dark, I am listening to a cacophony of bird song. My garden is brilliant with narcissi and camellia. Your post was a welcome note of peace in a troubling time. Thank you……I needed you to start off my week.
Beste Lady Carnarvon,
Wat een mooi verhaal om te lezen.
Geniet van de prachtige lente tijd.
Glorious Spring! Aren’t we grateful for the joy of all our senses reawakened each spring…and now that the horrors of Covid have lessened we experience this beauty, music and fragrance as never before. Your flowers are stunning. I can appreciate the dogs anxiety to go for walks with wonderful smells all over their fragrant earth so near their noses.
Thank you for the beautiful pictures and more neasutiful sentiments. It is really good to hear positive words and see real beauty at this time. In my Chicago suburb the tulips and peony foliage are well up but late snow and hard frosts ruined the hyacinths for this year. Maybe the ones right by the house’s foundations will bloom
Good Morning Lady Carnarvon,
I love seeing the pictures of the blooming flowers and trees.
I’m also excited because my son, Jason and his wife, Stephanie will be visiting Highclere on Thursday of this week! I know they will enjoy making wonderful memories there.
My favorite seasons of the year are Spring, with the renewal of life, and Fall, the last colorful display of nature.
Bangor, ME USA
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I wish we had “smelly vision”, the flowers look amazing and the scent must be amazing! We are in the process of buying an acre of our neighbour, with a wooded area and a sunny area. We are planning to plant lots and lots of bulbs later this year, I hope I can make it look as amazing as yours, and the badgers don’t grub them up. I have made a note of the names of the flowers you have mention. Feeling inspired, thank you.
Love springtime in your beautiful garden! Thank you for sharing the lovely photos.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Beautiful writing to add to the beautiful photos. Mother Nature at her glorious best. Spring offers hope amid the despair, and an inner reassurance that the natural world continues forward in one way and another. Much needed reassurance, and let us be gentle with the world.
Thank you for lifting Monday spirits!! Your writings are a treasure.
Stay well and safe.
Charlotte Merriam Cole
Good morning—or afternoon…
It’s nice to see Spring springing at Highclere.
Changing the clocks each year isn’t something many people welcome. But we travel(l)ed back to the United States from your time zone last week and took advantage of the time change. For a few days each year, there is only a 4 hour time difference between the UK and the East Coast of the US. Not a cure for jet-lag, but every hour helps!
Happy Spring…whatever time it is 😉
Lady Carnarvon lovely the pictures of spring forward and you and lord Carnarvon have a nice weekend
and lovely to visit Highcelere castle thank you for the email
Lovely Blog again Lady Carnarvon,
Having moved from Connecticut here in the USA down to Southwest Florida into a high rise building and giving up our former home with seven gardens I SO miss seeing and hearing the change of seasons, especially as a former gardener as in Southwest FL everything is always green and in bloom year round. Thank you so much for your beautiful photos and appropriate comments. As I received your lovely book “Seasons at Highclere” as a Christmas gift I am reading the Spring section during spring season and plan to read Summer, Autumn and Winter during those seasons so I can feel your experience during the appropriate season and recall mine of my past.
Prayers going out that your spring season there remains in bloom, sunny and warm.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Another lovely write up, I think Spring and Autumn are my favourite seasons, Spring because of the new life it brings, and Autumn for all the beautiful colours, unfortunately the beautiful weather we have had for the last few days has now left us up here in Yorkshire, it’s been a miserable Monday morning and on Wednesday we are supposed to be having sleet/snow showers, but we know the lovely weather will return.
Thursday snow is expected here!
Oh, how beautiful the grounds of Highclere now that Spring has sprung! Your photos are wonderful and remind me of my April, 2015, visit and walking amongst all those daffodils. I have some photos with Highclere Castle in the background, may many have a chance to visit and witness the splendor. Peace and a sunny Spring to all.
Beautiful photos of spring in your fields and pastures. Here, spring has arrived on the calendar but not in the landscape so your photos helped lift my spirits until spring reveals herself out my windows.
I am just now getting used to more light and less sleepy eyes in the morning! I know that hearing the birds at Highclere singing their lusty mating calls is surely delightful to the ear. What a lovely picture in my mind! Thank you for giving my imagination an early-morning workout!
What a beautifully written spring piece! I can imagine how wonderful it all is but thanks so much for the pictures! Spring is my favorite season—I like watching nature awaken from its long sleep! And the bird song! We have finches, mourning doves, robins & red winged blackbirds hailing each new day and gossiping about! It’s just wonderful! Our pear trees and red buds are blooming everywhere and takes our mind off of sadder world events. We must enjoy while we can.
Waking up this morning to your message of bulbs blooming and birds singing while here in Arizona in our yard freesias are bursting out with color and the finches, mocking birds and doves are singing their hearts out welcoming the new day while they gather tiny sticks for their nests. I feel our worlds are brought so much closer by our shared thoughts and messages.. We still hope to return to Highclere some day and in the meantime your messages to us each Monday bring us there while we wait. Happy Springtime to you and Geordie. Thank you so much.
I have recently subscribed to Lady Carnarvons blog so this being the first to read.
Beautifully written and gives a ray of hope. Looking forward to our visit in August.
Look forward to seeing you
How stunningly beautiful! My favorite part is your husbands leadership and participation in this project. Please thank him from the Sheep Lady from Colorado.
So lovely to see Spring appear at Highclere. I hope it is here to stay. On my recent birthday, I was surprised with a lovely gift from my daughter, A Visit to Highclere! We will visit in late May, and then attend Jubilee in London. So looking forward to seeing your beautiful home and gardens.
That sounds a lovely treat!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you for the encouraging words and beautiful photos! Here in Chicago I have needed to cover my tulips, daffodils and hyacinths because it has dropped well below freezing the past few nights. I interspersed smaller, garden statues to keep the blankets from bending the dear, young plants over to the point of breaking. What we do for love!
On another note I own and treasure your Seasons at Highclere book; reading it helps me remain cheerful for warmer Spring days to come.
As a UK transplant to California, I can’t tell you how much I look forward to your blog each Monday morning. Way back in the 80s we lived in a little cottage on Newtown Common, just a stones throw from Highclere, and your blog transports me back there every week!! Thank You!!
We are dealing with snow here today in Ontario Canada. Your beautiful pictures of the flowers blooming gives me hope our spring weather will be here soon. Looking forward to visiting Highclere this July with our UK friends.
I look forward to welcoming you to Highclere
Send the bulb planting man to the US, please. That sounds like a wonderful thing. I’ve never heard of such before. Your pictures are beautiful. The grounds are beautiful. Thanks much for sharing. Have a sweet day. From Louisiana.
How beautifully you write Lady Carnarvon. It all sounds so lovely. We are well into autumn here in Australia and although the days are beautiful it is cooling in the night and mornings. This weekend we will lose our daylight savings which I love. The bulbs all sound amazing. It has inspired me to look into planting some in my pocket garden for next spring. I loved my visit to Highclere a few years ago and hope to get back there again.
Sadly here in western NY near the Canadian border and Niagara Falls, our Daffodil sprouts are covered in a blanket of snow. It won’t last too long, just a couple days, while winter tries to force the issue just a little longer.
I think we will get a cold blast soon again!
How we all are enjoying the morning sun on our faces now that the cold north winds stopped howling. I’m not hearing as many birds as I thought I should but then again, maybe my hearing is what changed. Nonetheless, it is all magical as you described it and I am so thankful for that. Yes, daffodils are my all time favorite and it warmed my soul so see so many. Your years of dedicated labor is well appreciated. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the photos.
Rain overnight here in (once again) drought stricken California so started the day with seeing the joy of raindrops on the tops of railings. However, it is also expected to be windy which often dries the damp. Even now in our modern world, the weather rules what we do. Related to your gift stop manager’s reminder; took my two friends to our vacation home east of the Sierra Nevada on July 27th, sure of clear skies. Standing out on our front porch, we saw a wall of black on the horizon. Darting under the porch eaves, we stared in wonder as this huge wall of water came right at us, passing quickly over and past my little condo. We were rewarded for our bravery with not just a rainbow, but a double one at that! Later that day, it snowed, on the 27th of July! What a shock. And then as quickly as it arrived, the next day the snow melted and we were back to summer in the mountains. My friends still mention that day to me even after 15+ years!
My daffodils are sadly under 8” of new snow this morning here in Vermont but I did enjoy your pics.
Good Monday to you Lady Carnarvon
It was such a breath of fresh air to read your blog this morning.
Here in snowy Ontario Canada it was a real treat to see the beautiful flowers and pictures.
As usual I totally enjoyed reading your story.
Thank you for always making my Mondays special
Kathleen from Canada
Eloquent words and spirit-lifting images—so perfect with a cup of hot tea and warm coverlet on a wintry-like day in Northern Virginia, where March is opting leave like a lion! The elegant phrasing is bringing to mind the best of Emily Barrett Browning. Thank you!
Mr Browning stayed here a few times! But I am a fan of his wife
I didn’t know England has daylight savings time too. I hope you have linger days of splendid weather. Soon your estate will be known as having the loveliest garden in England! I look forward to visiting again to see all that you and your husband have planted.
You are kind – no better legacy
Thank you for your insight into spring at Highclere. There is currently a move in the US to eliminate the time change and many of us are cheering the prospect as it would be lovely to have an extra hour of daylight in the evening. I live in Iowa, which, in some places, looks very much like parts of the English countryside with different colored crops and not so many sheep, We too, have a sometimes spring and winter. This year March came in like a lamb and is leaving like a lion, with temps up to 70F last weekend and snow showers later in the week. I don’t mind real winter since I cross country ski, but this half winter is getting old. Unfortunately, the clashing weather systems in the mid US also bring severe weather in spring and we just recently had a round of tornados with loss of life and snow just after, so it was doubly hard for those trying to pick up the remnants of their lives since all the debris was buried. In the past we have had as much as 4 inches of snow in April, and one year, had snow for the Tulip Festival in Pella, Iowa, the first weekend in May. Tulips actually to well in snow, but unfortunately, vender tents do not, so the festival that year was kind of a disaster, but the flowers were pretty. So here’s hoping your spring stays spring long enough for everything that needs to get done for the start of your season, from one who knows what you can experience this time of year.
One for naturestimeline, I’ll look to share this on my page.
Dear Lady Carnarvon, as always thank you for this romantic and charming description of spring beginning. Highclere is beautiful in all seasons ! “The birds around me hopped and played, Their thoughts I cannot measure:—But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.
The budding twigs spread out their fan, To catch the breezy air; And I must think, do all I can, That there was pleasure there. If this belief from heaven be sent, If such be Nature’s holy plan, Have I not reason to lament What man has made of man ” (Lines written in Early Spring , William Wordsworth). Have a
That is a great poet!
Lady Carnarvon lovely pictures of spring forward and lovely the flowers out snowdrops and daffodils roses blue bell and lovely to visit highcelere castle thank you for the email
I remember your beautiful gardens when my husband and I visited Highclere in July 2019.
I took a video walking along one of the pathways.
It brings peace to me when I watch it.
Thank you for the planting you and your husband have done over the years.
Happy Spring! Happy Easter!
In August 2016 I had the good fortune to visit Highclere and I spent at least two hours roaming the gardens and the grounds on a spectacularly clear day with mild temps.
I grew up on a small family farm in New Jersey and I still farm to this day in my own yard
Your gardens are spectacular and I love seeing these posts.
I long to come back to the UK, hopefully soon
I always hope visitors will give themselves time to wander, time to stop or sit .. so I am so happy you enjoyed it
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I love reading your writings. Your musing on the different aspects of life whether they be related to Highclere or Downtown, I find interesting. I have bought all the books about Highclere, including your latest and all the books about Downton.
I do hope to read more of both. I was hoping to visit next year but due to certain new health concerns, I may not get to come. So please keep writing and sharing the wonderful pictures, videos and your creative writing. I so enjoy it!
Scotia, New York, USA
Dear Lady Carnarvon
This has really given me a much needed cheerful start to the day. Your posts always cheer me up. When we came to Highclere in pre Covid times, we just fell in love with your wild flower garden. Hopefully, we will be visiting again this year from Australia, also in Summer. One year I would love to see all your spring flowers in full bloom. Thank you so much for your blog; I can’t tell you how much I enjoy it. This piece brings to mind ‘Oh to be in England now that Spring is here!’
Happy Easter to all of you at Highclere!
Thank you Lady Carnarvon for a lovely description of spring at Highclere. I can only imagine how beautiful all your bulbs coming into bloom must be! It’s such a wonderful time of new growth and promise of sunnier days ahead. Hopefully you won’t get too much winter sneaking back into the frame .
Wishing you, Lord Carnarvon and your faithful canine clan a happy and peaceful spring xx
I have an update on my children coming to Highclere!!!!
The Bullingtons will be there tomorrow!! I hope they can meet you!!
Also, I watched Mary Berry’s program on PBS here in the States where she visited you at Highclere. I’m a big fan of both of you so much ! Your smile and laughter just brought joy to my heart!!!
Have a Blessed Day!
Hello – I am not sure when tomorrow is/was – I was in London today…Tuesday
Dear Lady Carnarvon!
How I loved to read about your wonderful spring. I really would love to see all The spring flowers. I can see that we are a bit later over here in Sweden. Only The Snodrops are in bloom so far. I can not wait for the Lovely daffodils! I do love flowers and I grow David Austin Roses so I Long for the summer season. Do you grow Austin Roses at Highclere? There are so many wonderful kinds and they really are a dream when they are in bloom.
Please have a good time and enjoy your spring!
Swedish greetings from Lena
Lovely images of your flower garden. The yellow ones and the white flowers are so pretty. The sun is shining so bright at Highclere. Wishing you a very happy spring.
Lady Carnarvon lovely the pictures of spring forward and thank you for the email you send and lovely to visit highcelere castle and did you and lord Carnarvon have a nice weekend
Lovely weekend thank you
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I was already looking forward to my mothers and my first visit to Highclere, and after reading your blog about Spring. It is filling me with even more excitement. I just hope Good Friday will be a perfectly sunny day.
I just love writing about the countryside, and am sure that Highclere will fill my imagination plus my photography, I just love this time of year. My year always starts with the Snowdrops.
I am so excited, and yes we are Downton Fans also.
Happy Spring time to you.
Good afternoon, Lady Carnavon,
Your lovely words remind me of many of the things I miss most about our time living in England – the dawn chorus, most of all, morning mists, and the rebirth of Spring. And seeing people playing lawn croquet and cricket, and tennis at Wimbledon . . . Your words brought these, from my high school Senior English Literature class) to mind. Thank you.
“Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf
And the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England — now!”
Robert Browning (1812-1889)
First stanza, Oh, to be in England
I do wish you, and all who devour every word of your delicious Monday emails, a blessed day, now that April is in England —now.
Adorable poem by Browning
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Thank you for this Monday blog.
Somehow, I neglected to read the story and to respond to it.
I am not a fan of the daylight savings time change!
The United States House of Representatives recently passed a measure to keep the time at “Spring Forward”. The United States Senate has yet to vote on the measure. I doubt it will.
This is not the first attempt to avoid “changing the clocks”. Such was tried during the early 1970’s with little success, and a resumption to “Spring forward” “Fall back” continues to this day.
As a side note: interestingly, the Old Farmer’s 2022 Almanac notes “that due to time zone differences, there isn’t a March 21 equinox in mainland United Sates during the entire 21st century. We won’t see a March 21 equinox again until 2101”.
Until next time, enjoy the extra hours of sunlight.