Of all the trees that grow so fair,
Old England to adorn,
Greater are none beneath the Sun
Than Oak and Ash and Thorn.
(Puck of Pook’s Hill, by Rudyard Kipling, 1906)
|Munchkin our Main Coon avoiding getting the snow in his furry paws|
|Trees in the wood just beginning to have leaf|
Trees are late to come to bud and some parts of England remain snow dusted. It has been a hard fight here to shake off the icy arms of Winter from round the neck of Spring. Cold winds pull us back into our woollens. The bramble and the thorn have thrived while we all slept.
I really adore the work of Lionel Percy Smythe. His gentle use of colour and light is exquisite. Here 'Spring' is cloaked in pale clothes with her green mantle lined in violet. The Blackbird held close. They are one of the first to nest, as early as January.
|Caught in the arms of icy Spring|
Lionel Percy Smythe, 1918
The woods are silent but for a few bird songs, but the hedges are strewn with Blackthorn blossom, those tiny flowers dropped during Faerie revelries.
Blackthorn is one of my favourite harbingers of Spring. The thorn, with it's black stems, is associated with darker nature, being the branch which made the crown of thorns for Christ. Yet it also reminds us that after darkness comes the light. I love the William Morris fabric with the thorn blossoms bright against the dark green background, the sweet violets and the fritillaries, and the thorns long and sharp, clearly visible. When we bought our cottage a small built in wardrobe was completely papered in this wallpaper. It is beautiful dense paper with a raised design. I found curtains in the same fabric at a flea market. I enjoy having a seasonal home. We call this small bedroom 'The Winter Room', decorated in dark and icy blues, smokey green, grey and silver with a nod to Narnia. The Blackthorn reminds us that the White Witch will be gone soon.
I have long been obsessed with tangled woods, briar roses and the thorn. But even I grow weary of Winter after awhile. I feel like a long sleep is passing, the Prince has come with May.
|Thorn Rose, 1975 by Errol Le Cain|
There is a feeling of magic in the air as Nature comes to life again and the flora and fauna which slept or hid through Winter come out into our view. It is not the full blown heady feeling of Midsummer, which is dreamy and sleepy - this is a joyous awakening and a celebration of life following another Winter.
|The perfect May Queen|
Rapturously beautiful Evelyn Nesbit
Age 16, by Gertrude Käsebier
It is easy to understand why it was that our ancestors danced and crowned a May Queen.
|Queen Guinevere's Maying by John Collier|
The chill remains upon us but sun shines brightly, and birds are nesting. House Martins have returned to tend their little homes on our cottage, always a welcome sight each year. The Snow Drops and Daffodils are now faded and the Bluebells are just coming into blossom with our Apple Trees, soon the Blackthorn flowers will turn to Berry.
|A lovely vintage Blackberry brooch by Exquisite|
There is definitely a bustle in the hedgerow, as Robert Plant once sang. Things are afoot all over the place. Hopefully if the predicted cold spell does not materialise this weekend we will celebrate May Day with a bluebell walk. We should acknowledge the turning of the seasons, as our ancestors did. But if you stray into the woods remember the Rules of Faerie, do not stray from the path and do not eat or drink anything!
Some of my favourite images of this time of year.
|By Arthur Rackham, from|
Hans Christian Anderson's The Elf Mound
|Marc Bolan of T Rex|
Ride a white swan like the people of the Beltaine .....
|The remarkable looking Palmate Newt larvae, from|
the magical Heligan Gardens.
|Abigail Edwards The Bramblewood plate|