Harvest song

12 October 2015
Ben Pentreath

The flower ladies were in the church on Saturday morning, decorating for the Harvest festival.P1030394

This particular flower person is Charlie, doing a vegetable table.P1030402At the very last minute he couldn’t cut any flowers at all from the garden. A photographer was coming from the New York Times to take a portrait of him and to photograph his garden. We found out on Friday evening at 8 o clock that they wanted to arrive on Sunday morning.  Bonkers. So vegetables it was.

When everyone was finished, the church looked completely beautiful.P1030413 P1030416 P1030422 P1030423 P1030424 P1030427

Obviously I never get bored during services, but if I was to, I suspect my eye would wander to the tiny fragments of stained glass that make up the borders of the windows.P1030428 P1030431

Or the plain, simple but perfect carving of the pilaster capitals. There is something almost minimalist in this high Victorian design.P1030434 P1030436 P1030438 P1030442

We made our way back to the veg garden. It’s been an extraordinary harvest autumn, after all.P1030448

Did you spot the red admiral butterfly, bottom left in the picture above? Basking in the warm sunshine.
P1030452 P1030454 P1030459

The garden was, to be fair, looking somewhat photogenic by midday on Sunday.P1030462 P1030465 P1030470 P1030474 P1030478

Charlie’s flower room. The pop-up shop, next door to us in Rugby Street, has I think what is best described as the soft opening tomorrow… Full-on madness will probably start next week – (not least because these weekend we’re off to Ledbury for whole new explorations with our friends over at Tinsmiths).P1030487

More flower room chaos.P1030488 P1030489 P1030491 P1030497

The harvest festival service was lovely.P1030498

Stephen, our vicar, with Jim & Nic’s daughter Annie… glowing in the late afternoon sunshine as we came out of the church:P1030502 P1030506 P1030508 P1030509 P1030510 P1030513 P1030514 P1030516 P1030517 Just before we sat down for supper in the village hall, this extraordinary sunset opened up in the sky. In all the years I’ve lived in the valley now, I’m not sure I’ve seen anything quite like it.
P1030547 P1030548 P1030551 P1030553 P1030555 P1030557 P1030558 P1030565 The colours faded to a purple, and then it was gone.

And we returned to the hall, and had a crazy night in only the way we can here in the village…P1030590 P1030597

And all felt very well with the earth. Autumn is here.

21 comments on this post

David Sheppardsays:

Dear Ben & Charlie

I am an very old friend of Carla Carlisle and live in the Catskill Mountain of Upstate New York.

Carla sent me your blog and I cannot express how charmed I was by the photograghs and accompanying text.

I am so grateful that she shared it all with me.

Best wishes,

David Sheppard

Wonderful photos, thank you for sharing, just wanted I needed to see today.


Just simply beautiful x


Lovely Lovely Lovely. Thank you. Another batch of exquisite photos, and love the Englishness-at-its-best quality that shines through them. So very happy to have finally got to the shop last week – more fun than buying online.

Ben, thank you for having us all over for the Harvest Festival! The church was lovely, the sunset gorgeous (if a bit apocalyptic)and the good cheer palpable. Last week I found three sizable tiger swallowtail caterpillars munching on the rue (their favorite plant in the whole garden) and I almost couldn’t believe my eyes! Alas, I doubt they will ever get their wings.

Cheers to you and Charlie!



I really liked this post: Charlie working so fast, he’s just a blur! Weren’t Harvest festivals always about the vegetables anyway? My children raided the larder without fail and without notice for school services. Glorious flower arrangements (despite the obvious lack of symmetry of course!) Best, Nicola


For Miranda: michelmas daisies.
Will Charlie’s shop have cake for sale ?
Super post, best

oh ben.
this post epitomizes everything english to me.
it’s sheer beauty brought tears to my eyes.
thank you!
i love your life ben and charlie! xo


Prompted to respond by the comment (above) about repetition. Surely repetition is the point, isn’t it? Nature, the year, the garden, all have a rhythm. Every season arrives, and leaves, in its own utterly familiar, utterly unique style. There’s always a moment, a smell, the quality of the sunlight, when we realise one season has slipped into the next. The church’s festivals, based as they are on much older, pagan, rituals survive because of our atavistic need to mark such transitions (although according to Radio 4, harvest festival as celebrated today was set up by an eccentric vicar, Rev Robert Hawker, in Cornwall in 1843). The only blog I follow and the only one I’ve ever commented on. Dahlias rule!


what are those tall pale blue flowers in the bed in front of the porch? anyone know?
your little church is so pretty, and the village hall so jolly.


Well I’m nominating this for my favourite-ever post! Charlie’s flowers and vegetables look just beautiful! x


We saw the sunset too on just as we were leaving to head back to London. It was extraordinarily beautiful, so great to see it again. This week captures something that has been happening in villages all over England – maybe not always quite as picturesque – but there none-the-less. We had homemade soup and bread after our harvest service. It is so timeless and a universe away from typical London living.


What a disappointment this post was Ben – felt like I’ve read the same one for the past few autumns. All nice of course, but fancy not cutting flowers for the church because of the photographer. Hmmm. I’m beginning to wonder if this is the sort of blog for me. Thanks for the good times though and all the best. s


We were in Barry, South Wales this weekend and had the same sunset. But not quite the same skyline. Was quite stunning to see and disappeared so quickly. Lovely to see it again.

Always a delight to see your garden. It’s stunning no matter what season it is. Is that a copper beech tree next to your garden (with the swing)? Everything looks so picture-perfect.

Pierre B.says:

Pink from the beginning (almost) to the end: wheelbbarrow (Charlie’s?)… flowers… and that sky!… This was indeed a stunning sunset; it enlightens mine in Montreal. Thank you!


Do hope you manage to get to Ludlow for a visit while over in Ledbury. Ludlow has over 500 listed buildings so you will have fun with your camera!

Thank you for fantastic sunset images!! I’ve never seen sky in those colours!!
I totally thought “The Pop-up-Shop” opens today, so I made my way up from London/Surrey border, but It wasn’t… pity… Anyway I got lovely Ravilious cards which I need for my friend. Hopefully I will find another chance to go up to the central.


Such a glorious sunset. Thank you for sharing your weekends with us!


thank you, thank you and thank you again for your wonderful post – beautiful photos and lovely text. have tears in my eyes whilst typing this; full of nostalgia for beautiful Dorset!

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