greentapestry : Wordy Wednesday - 24th April 2013 - 'This Telescoped Spring'

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Wordy Wednesday - 24th April 2013 - 'This Telescoped Spring'

"There is a strange order in things this year ;  for here is the first swallow with us while half the daffodils are as yet only greenish yellow buds. As the seasons are early or late, so do we get various combinations of blossoming. Last year, with its especially early spring, brought the American flowering currant into bloom with the plum, and scattered the almond blossom upon shaking daffodils. Now, today, daffodils are coming out as the apple blossom still shows pink. The trees follow the calendar more steadily, except that the younger trees always seem to come into leaf much later than the full grown ones.

As the month draws on, there is a sudden rush of warmth and in a day or two the garden is a changed world, as in a fairy story where a spell has suddenly been lifted. Barely budding trees thicken with green, the spinach is rampant and, the rhubarb, that a few days back was pale and stubbly, is like an enormous tropical plant. The cherry blossoms that should have been in bloom for Easter, now burst into festoons of hanging blossoms. Yesterday the buds were still tight and colourless. Pear trees are heavy with flowering clumps. Sticky buds of the chestnut change and stretch out wooly and open with a few hours of heat and sun, showing their blossom as a hard point of pale green. Bees bumble, spiders run in the grass and ladybirds glow everywhere. As I stand, for luck, on the grass I hear the first cuckoo. After being held back for over a month, all the things tumble over themselves and each other in their urgent rush to bloom. Has there ever been such a rush? Frantically one tries to take it all in, but one misses many subtleties in this glut of blossoming. The primroses and daffodils that should have had place of honour a few weeks back now excite us somewhat less, because the lilac buds fatten so visibly, and anemones and violas flower. This telescoped spring wastes much beauty"

This extract from the chapter on April from 'Four Hedges', written and engraved by Clare Leighton could refer to April 2013 but in fact was written in the 1930s. The book chronicles the story of a year in of a much loved garden situated in the Chiltern Hills, tended to by Clare and her partner. Although I do not agree with the last sentence or two I think that the rest of her description of the late arrival of spring sums this one up perfectly. The above illustration is just one of the many exquisite wood engravings that illustrate the book.


  1. I think this illustrates how common it is for the seasons to be out of time. We only need a bit of warmth for everything to come on in leaps and bounds though. My lilac is so behind this year, it's usually an abundance of flowers by now.

  2. This is a great passage you have chosen to illustrate spring - around here we aren't quite as advanced as that yet - but live with the hope of things to come.

  3. This is so very true for us here in Bavaria - it always is a rush once it warms up, but this year has been extreme. I still have daffodils, yet the hawthorn and cherry are already flowering, and the pulmonaria and dog violets have flowered at the same time for once too. The last two lines could be true for those who aren't such avid observers as we gardeners. An interesting quote Anna - thanks for sharing!

  4. Maybe not, the lilacs and so on taking away from the primroses and daffs.

    This is a good lilac year over here. I don't know any rhyme or reason as to why, winter was mild, but we've had lilacs looking good following a cold winter - who knows?

  5. Clare Leighton could have blogging this back in the 30s, if such things existed then! Shows how there is never a 'normal' spring or summer or...

  6. What a lovely passage and yes could so easily have been written for this year

  7. Thanks for all your comments which are much appreciated as always.


All your comments are much appreciated and treasured. I wil try to reply to everyone who leaves a comment, but it may take me a few days, especially when I start spending more time in the garden and at the lottie. I know that you will understand :) I am sure that I will also visit your blog if I have not already done so. If you have any specific questions I will either reply to them here or you can email me at :


- Anna.