Spring song and Summer song…

6 January 2013
Ben Pentreath

What is it about these dark January days? Yes, maybe, like me, you’ve noticed the mornings getting lighter, just slightly… yes, perhaps there is a blackbird that sings from time to time outside my bedroom window; but there’s just something about these two or three weeks in January that make me feel as if we are lying in the never-ending depths of winter. Not even a sparkling frozen winter; just grey.

To lighten the gloom, we’re delighted of course to offer a crazy Sale over on the shop website, which you just may be interested in: 20% off everything, starting from today, and running until the 26th. Woohoo!! Please have a browse and see if that is one way to put a smile on your face?  And if you can get to London, or to Rugby Street, there will be further considerable special offers in store. So I hope that is useful too, and makes a journey worthwhile.

But let’s face it, fun as it is (and it is very fun) to have an exciting new cushion or a Marianna Kennedy Lamp that you have been lusting after but couldn’t quite afford…Sales aren’t quite everything. I’ve got to confess I’m very very happy to be going to the mountains for a short trip later in the month, for Will’s birthday, which will be over before it has begun, but will be good;  and I’ve got to admit I’m even more excited to have a trip to New York and then to beautiful Harbour Island, and a little bit of heat, to look forward to in March… which is somehow the month that one really needs cheering up, I sometimes think.

It’s funny, looking back at some of the postings that I’ve made at around about this time of year, to see how it seems to be a rather recurrent theme to dream of other places or climates in this particular week in January, or roundabouts: have a look at 2012, or 2010, and see what I mean. I guess it’s just what I think about between the 6th and 15th of January.

So this afternoon, I’ve been having a little daydream about summer in my garden in Dorset. And in fact making a few plans. Low box hedges around the veg garden?  I think so.  Spring bulbs? Yes, please. Cow Parsley on the lanes?  I cannot wait.  Long summer evenings? Roll on. My great friend George always teases me (just slightly, and with slight justification) that my garden is in fact the most photographed in Britain, perhaps in Europe, who knows, the world.  That was a record, according to his family legend, that used to be held by his mother Laura. Then came along digital cameras, and me.  Move over Laura.  Anyway, there might be a bit of truth in what he says.  I don’t think I mind.  It’s what keeps me ticking over in the dark days. And so here are some memories of years past. It’s that time of year…

Please don’t forget that we are recruiting. Applications for the decoration role close on Wednesday and we will be interviewing the following week.  Applications for the Practice manager role close on 28th January.  More details for both jobs may be found here.

20 comments on this post


Oh, that courgette salad makes me loooong for summer! and holidays in Amalfi. I also adore the picture of the garden through window… it captures so much. The garden is droolable, but the tulips in the silver jug in your sitting room surpass the lot…. I’m usually a monochrome-head, but this pic has inspired me to inject my room with some colour. Thanks so much for the inspiration!! This post will certainly see me through to the dawn of spring.

Janet Wheatcroftsays:

How many wonderful gardens rely on a corsetry of box-hedging, for winter structure and to contain summer’s blowsiness? And how many are having to rethink their entire layout because of box blight? Well, mine, for a start. And Roy Strong’s. And the wonderful topiary garden at Levens Hall in Cumbria. So if you need to buy in any box, be very very careful – no cure other than ripping it out and not replanting. And what do you use as a substitute?


I reckon forget the box hedging around the veges, I think the lack of it suits the simplicity of the house and the garden is all the more charming for its absence.
Also cutting it is serious backache 😉

Sighing loudly at the loveliness of your garden and lamenting the ‘loss’ of mine – nowhere near so huge as yours but increasing colour every year. Move to the continent has brought a teeny, tiny garden with soil that is challenging to say the least.

Where I live in Canada we just had a big dump of snow, which is clean and pretty but after looking at all your pictures especially the tulips it makes me want to take a holiday to somewhere nice and warm and see green trees and flowers.
Thanks for sharing

Margaret Powlingsays:

Love the salads, could eat one right now, and as for the wonderful tulips and dahlias …

By the way, hope you managed to see the prog on BBC4 last night about the Riviera and the painters … now, that was a feast of colour for a January night!

You make this cold day warmer. Love the romantic mix of colors and textures. What an artist!
Thank you. Making that salad tonight.

Oh Ben I think my heart is going to break…you are so lucky…but I don’t begrudge you your luck one bit and I thank you for sharing the fruits (and flowers!!) with the world


Love the cow parsley in the lanes – had great success with ‘posh’ cow parsley in the garden this year, ammi major from Sarah Raven, easy too. Favourite is the tulips but it’s a very hard battle as alliums are sooo lovely too and they stay in the ground so easier than tulips….

Wow, and I thought MY garden was tidy! That is absolutely fantastic – and so colourful too. But I love the contrast between riotous informality of the cow-parsley and the neatly-ordered lines of vegetables.

Everything you post is always just perfect.
What about inky blue green as seen in Desmond Guinness,s home for your living room?? I did it and it is fabulous.

On the subject of box hedges round vegetable gardens Nigel Slater did it and wrote that he wished he hadn’t as they harboured slugs and snails


Dear Dixie, I know. I know. But I think he was still actually glad he had them!!! It’s just better to sound like you don’t want your box hedges…. 😉

I found your blog by chance and I am so glad I did. The photos of your garden are fab-u-lous. Such colour combinations make my mouth water and make me long for spring and summer to arrive.


and ditto what Jo said above


It is summer here in oz so your courgette and goats cheese salad has solved my dinner problem for this evening and have dear little courgettes in my kitchen garden at the moment
ditto wish I was looking for a job in London and ditto love the orange ? with the black tulips….what is it?


and why shouldn’t it be the most photographed?? it is absolutely divine.
jo xo

Deby (in Canada)says:

Oh Ben… the orange and purple is a perfect jolt of happiness in grey January! I do know what you say about the need to trip plan in January- I cheered myself up this week booking my spring trip to London and Herefordshire.
I do wish I was looking for a job in London…

Lisa (Los Angeles)says:

Stunning photos…

Elizabeth Barrsays:

If you are going to Harbour Island in March, please consider a quick(-ish) puddle jump to Hope Town in the’s not as elegant as Harbour Island but you might just loose your heart to it. It’s a real community (church, school, AA meetings on the government dock) founded by a Loyalist widow after the American revolution. The beaches are empty and lovely. Fly to Marsh Harbour and take a ferry. Repeat: Hope Town. Elbow Key, Abaco, Bahamas. People rent houses in the Settlement of Hope Town but there it’s easy to stay at Hope Town Harbour Lodge. ( I swore that I would never tell anyone about this, but I owe you something for your lovely posts.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *