Hellebores and Tea with Daphne

“I walked this land with a dreamer’s freedom….”

Our weather remains mercurial but we had one amazing weather day this week. I had a lovely walk and a good exploration of the garden.  There are more plants here than I’d realised, so I have something to work with, plus I’ve brought a selection with me.


I discovered a hellebore – sited in the sunniest, and thus the least appropriate, spot in the garden!  It’s a large one and it’s blooming so it’s obviously coping.  I’m tempted to move it but shall try to resist for this year at least.  The actual flowers are frilly and pink but I prefer those whose beauty is already fading.  They take on a vintage hue.  I picked a few.  They won’t last long but I shall appreciate them for a while at least.


I’ve brought three more hellebores with me, with plus a couple of climbing roses which I must get planted next week.  I very much wanted to bring my asters but started to feel uncomfortable about taking too much from Old Spinney.  I shall replace the asters here.  So after the inspection, the plan was actually make a start on the gardening, but I made another choice instead and it was sublime.


We have a raised decking platform at the back of the house giving first floor access to the outside, and it’s a real suntrap.  It’s on the southern side of the house, between the building and the rising slope of the valley.  It gets whatever sun we have more or less all day, and what it loses in views it makes up for in intimacy.  So having returned from a hard walk involving some stiff climbs, instead of attacking the garden, I sat on the decking with a cup of tea – and Daphne.

I have always loved Daphne Du Maurier’s books.  She lived all of her adult life in this part of Cornwall and most of her works make glorious use of this landscape and the history, myths and legends that abound here.   Most of my books remain packed in boxes but I deliberately kept a few with me, including a novel of Daphne’s and this one: Enchanted Cornwall.  And it is this book that I took onto the decking today.


This is her pictorial memoir, published just before she died, and it’s a joy to read.  Sitting outside in this sheltered, sunny spot, wrapped in warmth and birdsong, was a delight.  I read the first chapter – which brings me to when they set out to find a house in Cornwall, which of course, is when they found Ferryside.  Wonderful.

In the forward Daphne says:

“Enchanted Cornwall is more than a travelogue.  It tries to give an idea of the way in which Cornwall has communicated with me, and I with Cornwall, for here I found myself both as a writer and as a person.”

It is too soon to know if I have found myself as a writer (although I think I do know the answer to that).  I can say unequivocally that it is here I have found myself as a person.  Forty years older than when Daphne found herself, but it’s never too late.

A few sentences later in the forward, Daphne writes:

“In Cornwall I discovered especially a sense of timelessness barely glimpsed before…”

Oh, how I relate to that!  But this is my favourite:

“I walked this land with a dreamer’s freedom….”

I hope never to lose that dreamer’s freedom.

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