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Diary of a Cultural Gardener - March 2020

Our monthly diary to see what March has had in store for our Cultural Gardener, Katy Merrington.

‘In the contemplation of nature, we are perpetually renewed, our sense of mystery and our imagination is kept alive…’ Barbara Hepworth, 1934.

What a month March has been! Who would have thought that everything could change so quickly and that we’d be forced to re-value so many ordinary elements of life which we previously took for granted?

Our garden does not have a physical boundary built around it and this is a reflection of the generosity of its design. It therefore remains open and hopefully a helpful resource for our community’s permitted daily walk, but we ask that all visitors adhere to the government’s guidance on leaving home and observe the necessary social distancing measures when on site.

In this time of crisis, the wonder of spring and nature’s continuance has brought joy and solace. I am fortunate that I live very close to our garden and have been able to keep an eye on it, whilst observing the government’s guidance. The beautifully sunny spring days were transformational. You could feel the potential energy, pent up all winter and ready to burst. The cherry trees were white with blossom and the magnolia flowers vivid against the blue sky. Butterflies and bumblebees have been bobbing about collecting pollen and nectar and in the warmth of the afternoon sun the scented daffodils filled the air with perfume. Our week of glorious sunshine was delicious and yet slightly jarring, with that illogical unease when the weather doesn’t reflect back to us the emotions we’re feeling.

We now have more time to appreciate small details and to really look at things. Whilst I have been tending the garden it has been a pleasure to see our community respectfully taking their allotted daily walks, some people solitarily observing blossom petals close up, quietly listening to birdsong, or bending down to locate the scent from a spring flower.

Last autumn our dedicated garden volunteers and horticulture students from Wakefield College, helped to plant over 9000 tulips and daffodils, according to Tom Stuart-Smith’s design. These were intended to be a celebration of the garden’s very first spring. I had initially feared that the pestilence of mice eating the bulbs might have been the biggest threat to their successful flowering. I never imagined that the pestilence of a human virus would mean that we would not be able to fully-share this amazing spectacle with our visitors. I have therefore become the garden’s temporary photographer, trying to capture the flowers as they start to bloom. The Narcissus ‘Toto’ are in full flower, with the white Narcissus ‘Thalia’ about to open. The first of over twenty varieties of tulips will start to bloom over the next couple of weeks in a wonderful array of rich crimsons, maroons and mahoganies.

Please stay safe and well and keep an eye on the Hepworth Wakefield’s website and social media where we will bring our spring flowers and our amazing collection to your screens.