News & What's On News / Blog
- Spring 2023 in the Parsonage Garden

The latest news from our gardening volunteers.
‹‹ Back to News & What's On
This rose is not so fragrant as a summer flower, but it has stood through hardships none of them could bear; the cold rain of winter has suffice to nourish and its faint sun to warm it; the bleak winds have not blanched it, or broken its stem, and the keen frost has not blighted it…It is still fresh and blooming as a flower can be, with the cold snow now on its petals. Will you now have it? Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Looking back to autumn

Looking back to autumn, when the main task in the garden was the constant tidying of the fallen leaves to gather them around the borders to provide a spring mulch for the new growth, none of us could have imagined the strong winds, hard frosts and heavy snow that the garden would have to endure over the winter and early spring months. A conscious decision, again, not to cut back plants at the end of their season, proved a wise move, especially given the hard winter frosts that potentially threatened the life of some of the plants. Leaving the plants to bask in their winter glory also provided a haven for the critters to burrow in and find a home for the cold winter months. Some of the seedheads have provided a great show, especially as they have been caught in the gaze of the winter sun: Honesty and Hydrangea, to name but two.

The bridge between winter and spring

Autumn tidying and planting in the garden now seems an age away, as we heave a sigh of relief that the winter frosts and snow only caused minimal damage to one or two shrubs, which, now pruned, have been given a new lease of life. Despite the hard frosts the new signs of early spring were quick to make their mark, the first being the Winter Aconites, like a bright ‘guard of honour’ along the borders, closely followed by the dainty snowdrops and the indestructible crocuses. Weeks passed where these beauties provided a bridge for the seasons between winter and spring. For a while these were the stars of the garden, until the snow in early March covered their delicate flowers, when they became “hidden under the wintry drifts” (Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights).

Up to the moment of the heavy snow, these plants had, once again, provided many moments in the spotlight for our garden visitors, so fleeting, but enough to point to the joy of spring and the new life that it brings. The plant that gets the prize for its resilience, however, has to be the Hellebore. Scattered around different parts of the garden, the Hellebore, or (Christmas) Rose as Anne Brontë calls it in her reference above, has withstood its majestic form, despite being threatened by the depth of the snowfall.

New growth

We are now enriching the soil with the leaf compost to add warmth and to help the new spring and summer growth to thrive. Along with raking the soil to improve the texture, we are observing the new growth of the plants and bulbs that we introduced to the garden in autumn and early winter. As the daylight hours are getting longer, so the garden is springing to new life. When visiting, look out for the new ‘St Patrick’ daffodil bulbs, just beginning to flower with distinctive green flowers, as well as a small lilac tree. Also just pushing through and showing their early presence are some large Alliums, dotted around the front garden. These should show a contrast of colour and form that will only enhance the surrounding plants. The Rose bushes are beginning to blossom and they, along with other larger shrubs and bushes, have been introduced to some new metal plant supports, handmade by Phil Knowles.

Sometimes when I’m gardening, I become quite engrossed in the moment of it all, whether it’s the song of the birds or the chiming of the Church bells, or the realisation of the rich history of the place, it really does have its own magic – small, but perfectly formed. We hope you’ll come and visit the garden soon and stay a while to observe and wander (or even wonder) in its rich canopy.

Written by Caroline
Volunteer Gardener at the Brontë Parsonage Museum

Notes on Sustainability

We have introduced two water butts in the back garden, which will allow us to use rain water for hydrating the plants. Soon to appear, also, are two bird boxes to invite birds such a Blue Tits and Robins to make a safe home here. These new additions, along with the bug hotel already in place are helping us to think more sustainably and be more mindful of the interconnectivity of all living things as well as living out the message of the latest exhibition in the Museum, The Brontës and the Wild
read more