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- Spring 2024 in the Parsonage Garden

The latest news from our gardening volunteers.
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A fine and subtle spirit dwells
In every little flower
Each one its own sweet filling breathes
With more or less of power
There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell.

'The Bluebell', Anne Brontë
As the long, dark days of winter gradually give way to longer daylight hours, we're looking forward once again to the gardening year ahead - although these days, it must be said, there seems to be an ever shortening span of winter where the garden truly sleeps. The hellebores and aconites are springing to life much earlier now and, along with the crocuses, offer welcome colour and light in the darkest months, bringing with them the promise of much to follow.
Not that work in the garden came to a standstill for the gardeners either; we still managed to be there most weeks throughout the winter despite the seemingly incessant rain the season threw at us. We've been there to enjoy the first glimpses of the cheery yellow aconites, a true herald of spring, followed by dense clusters of snowdrops, even more abundant this year than last, a reward for the lifting and dividing done last spring.
We continued our relaxed ‘less is more’ approach to cutting back, allowing safe overwintering habitats for insects and wildlife and leaving as much structure in the garden as possible, only resorting to the use of secateurs where the weather had taken its toll and plants had really suffered.
One plant we did cut back in the autumn however, albeit with some trepidation despite it having become very bare at its base, was the large old hebe at the end of our sunny border. It seemed quite brutal at the time and we've all breathed a sigh of relief as, fortunately, it's responded well to the drastic measures and is now looking fresh and green and with luck should flower profusely once again in the summer.
Our second water butt, a reclaimed wooden barrel, was installed earlier this year and really enhances the courtyard area, complimenting the half barrels where the apple tree and herbs are planted. It should ensure a plentful supply of rainwater for all our containers throughout the coming summer. As well as providing a greener method of watering, a quote from the book 'Haworth Parsonage - The Home of the Brontës' by Jocelyn Kellett shows us that the addition of the new water butt also reinstates a feature present when the Brontës lived at the Parsonage:
'The water from the roof was collected in troughs from the ''heve spout'' (the eave spouting) repaired by William Wood who had supplied the ''truf and cock'' (tap) for 1/4d'.
Sadly, our once beautiful lawn has suffered in recent months but, happily, help is at hand and at the moment it's receiving some tender loving care from our new lawnsman. Currently under cover to allow its recovery, we're looking forward to the time when the cover can be removed and the lawn will, once again, take centre stage in the front garden.

There's much to see and enjoy in the garden at the moment. In particular, the St Patrick's daffodils, which sit in the containers flanking the steps to the front door of the Parsonage, are a delight. We can already see the promise of the plants which will come to the forefront and be the stars to flourish in the coming weeks. The new fritillaries which have been planted throughout the garden, along with the aliums, aquilegias, tulips, and of course the beautiful English bluebells in Anne's poem, are just waiting to show us spring in all its glory and ‘fill our hearts with bliss’ - and I for one can’t wait.

- Christine, Bront
ë Parsonage Museum Gardening Volunteer
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