Spring into Summer

8 May 2018
Ben Pentreath

I remember one of the things I found strangest of all living in New York was the absence of a proper spring. Well into April, ice cold winds could blow through the city, and great blizzards would fall.  Trees would be bare and dark.  In the country, the grass stayed dead-brown, frozen.

And then suddenly in the midst of this eternal winter, spring would arrive in a moment. For a week, blossom trees blossomed, tulips burst out… only, then, in the early weeks of May, for high summer to arrive before you had blinked. The city turned into a thundering heat bowl, temperatures in the 90s; we’d escape whenever we could to the beach, and bask in the boiling sunshine all through to that best and softest of New York seasons – autumn.

One of the joys of moving back to England was spring. Green fields; the slow progress from snowdrops and daffodils to bluebells and blossom.  Spring is the longest and happiest of English seasons.  But not this year.

On Monday last week I found myself arriving back in London in bitterly cold wind and rain. The brief heatwave had come and gone.  We got our scarves and winter coats out again.  And then – by the end of the week… back to high summer. Dorset (well, the whole country, as far as I can tell) basked. And on a bank holiday. The weather gods have gone wrong.

The garden was sublime on warm evenings.

Walking Mavis early in the morning, the air was already filled with the promise of real heat.

Trees are wearing their spring coats but the atmosphere was that of high, late summer.

The hills above the village gleamed in a white haze.

Tom Foot’s dairy herd out on warm, lush grass.

Even early in the morning, John Barker’s Longhorn herd made for the shade. 

The cow parsley is only just out;

Blossoming cherries still in flower…

Yesterday evening, on a beautiful, still warm night, I was giving a talk at Bridehead to a tent packed full of 200 people, for Breast Cancer awareness.  On such a magical evening it seemed like we were in high summer.  Nothing could go wrong in the world.

And all seemed to go well. We rolled in to bed late and tired; the alarm clock went very early this morning. 

You can imagine how hard it was to tear myself away this morning and back on the train to London. At moments like this, are you with me in wishing for eternal summer, and eternal days of nothing in the garden?

11 comments on this post

Diane Keanesays:

Despite the heads-in-sand nay-sayers who are now ruining–sorry, I meant running–the U.S., climate change is very real. I recently saw photos of European ski resorts with meandering paths of machine-made snow running through what looks like lunar landscapes. It is heart-breaking. I suppose eventually, Mother Nature will populate these cold deserts with plant life, but that in itself is worrying, isn’t it? Hopefully, the next time around after we’ve wrecked the planet and extincted ourselves, she will remember to keep those monkeys in the trees!

Deborah Wagnersays:

Thank you, Ben, for another lovely post. However, I have been reading the UK papers, watching my Insta feed, and talking to friends over there, and I have seen the climate change progression maps. This hot weather, which everyone is marveling at and reveling in, bodes ill for the England we love, the lush greenness, the fecundity, the relentless gorgeousness of it. I’m sure this is not lost on Charlie, who’s life and livelihood are so entwined with Nature. The good news is that the UK and Ireland stand to suffer less from climate change than, say, the eastern seaboard of the US. As I said to my husband upon seeing the Climate EX map, if you want to know the parts of the world favored by God, they are England, Ireland, Northern Europe and Argentina.

glenda baylesssays:

thank you! for your very kind english spring time “article”, dear ben. same here, central high sierra california, springtime overnight accompanied by flesh chewing insects, aaggghhh. my sis’ and neice are visiting london from oz, for the month of may, complimenting’ sez’ she “could live in london”! i’ll take dorset!

David Sanderssays:

And with the arrival of Spring, Arcadia is reborn. Such gorgeous, lush photos Ben. I have to admit that the one thing I really miss about England, is those cosy, little country lanes that you have captured superbly with your all-seeing lens.


Here in Manhattan, we’re in our all too short perfect Spring. Everyone looks happy. All our concrete has not yet been heated by the summer sun. Under the gentle warmth of these days there’s still a coolness. Soon we’ll be reminded that Manhattan is an island with heavy tropic like and steamy humidity. We’ll gasp for nearby beaches, check the schedule for the Hampton Jitney bus, pine for an extended stay in Martha’s Vineyard or Cape Cod, and dream of Maine vacations. Please keep posting your lovely green expanses and ever evolving gardens. They give such great pleasure!

Ellen Spencersays:

I can identify completely with your appreciation of England’s (usually) gradual, lovely spring. When I lived in Kent , having arrived on 1 January and finding everything very dark and grey, I was thrilled to see snowdrops in February followed by daffodils, bluebells and lots of other blooms through March and April. Also, the grass never really turned brown in winter at all!


How lush and beautiful your countryside is!! Maine went from very cold and windy to spring overnight. It’s weird to have mittens still in the closet when all of a sudden you have a 90 degree day.


Today is miles cooler so the poor plants and animals don’t know whether they’re coming or going. Nice post. Thank you. Nicola


Wonderful images of the Bride Valley it is my favourite place so gentle and unspoilt and so green and peaceful.You are so kind Ben to find time in your busy life to share its beauty with so many of us a heartfelt thank you.


Everything is so beautiful. It’s such a pleasure to read your lovely blog. Thank you so very much.


Dear Ben & Charlie
heaven heaven heaven on earth, such brilliant photos, this blue sky, your garden and such a beautiful landscape ….. I love it 🙂
Yes, I`m with you in wishing eternal summer with the blossoms and the air of spring and I understand how hard it is for you to left it !!!
In Germany these days are also very sunny with blue sky and the air smells like flowers 🙂
Thank you for your lovely spot.
Have a nice and sunny week,
Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂

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