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- November and December in the Parsonage Garden

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His heart was like a sensitive plant that opens for a moment in the sunshine, but curls up and shrinks into itself at the slightest touch of the finger, or the lightest breath of wind.
Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
As we come to the end of our gardening year in the Parsonage garden we can safely say there are no sensitive plants to be found within these walls. Amidst all the ups and downs of 2020, closures and re-openings of the museum, the garden has continued to flourish through rain, hail, storms and sun. The lawns too, a vibrant, verdant green, thanks to Geoff’s constant attention and careful navigation of the slopes either side of the front door. We started the year with bulbs peeping through a soft carpet of snow and here we are, full circle, as we write, in December, with a light frosting, and a few ‘snow’ flowers amongst the last michaelmas daisies and the lingering silver hued leaves of erysimum.

Each border has played centre stage at some point this year. Whereas the sunny side needed a top up of a few extra white perennials, including a pretty white phlox, in late summer, the back garden was ablaze with the Lucifer crocosmia and the fiery colours of Branwell’s border wherein his fabulous rose never ceased to glow in the dullest of days. As autumn crept in, we volunteer gardeners began a hectic few weeks of sweeping leaves and gentle tidying. The shady border had been particularly luxuriant this year and any emerging gaps were filled with recycled hanging baskets, thanks to Jenny, and pots which we keep, as do many gardeners, for this purpose. This winter, as last year, we are hoping to keep as many stems as we can to create frosted fronds and to harbour glistening webs. A mental note was made to introduce even more shrubs with berries next year! It saddens us to think that this Christmas we won't be required to decorate the rooms of the Parsonage with our winter boughs.


 
We could not close the gardening year without mentioning the flower bed under the library window which has been resplendent with lush foliage and lovely, tall phlox, with perky heucharas in many shades and almost hyperbolic hydrangeas in the most fabulous range of crimson hues! It is here too, that our gaze has frequently lingered upon a certain rose. This rose has no name and certainly did not cost a pretty penny. However from August onwards this beautiful, upright pink rose has consistently burst forth from numerous buds into gorgeous whorls ranging from a delicate blush to a most determined pink. Being no sensitive plant, the bush has withstood the storms and winds of 2020 and has only very recently scattered its final petals so delicately on the lawn.

Both Charlotte and Emily had their beautiful bi-centennial roses donated to the Parsonage by David Austin Roses and we were hoping to search out a fitting rose for Anne’s bicentennial year. All the hindrances of this Covid year have made gardening and discussing together quite difficult for our team, yet this rose has caught the attention of us all. So we are claiming it for Anne and it will be labelled for everyone to seek out in 2021, standing proudly in the border to the right of the front door.
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