Where are the songs of spring?

"Ay, where are they?"  You might recognise the questions of the title and the previous line as coming from Keats' 'Ode to Autumn'.  Since I'm going to be poetic with my nearly-annual Matthew Arnold post, I might as well start that way.  And with the weather we've had all through May and June it's as if we're searching for spring, with a troubling fear that we're already turning towards autumn.  We are still putting the heating on in the evenings, I'm still wearing what I grandly call 'my winter wardrobe' to work (winter-weight trousers, long sleeved tops and cardigans, with a scarf round my neck for extra warmth, and wondering if I can climb back into my winter duvet coat), and several times recently I've set off for the allotment wearing three fleeces.

Some of the ingredients of Matthew Arnold's 'tempestuous morn' are here: volleying rain and tossing breeze, but the primal burst of bloom struggled onto the scene, and generally everything has been late and slow.  The May blossom was still coming out in early June.  My personal marker of the passing of the seasons, the cow parsley, arrived late and is still flowering up on Speyside.

 "So, some tempestuous morn in early June,
When the year's primal burst of bloom is o'er,
Before the roses and the longest day -
When garden-walks and all the grassy floor
With blossoms red and white of fallen May
And chestnut-flowers are strewn -
So have I heard the cuckoo's parting cry,
From the wet field, through the vext garden-trees,
Come with the volleying rain and tossing breeze;
The bloom is gone, and with the bloom go I!"

Matthew Arnold, Thrysis

We travelled north on Friday through the central highlands, and saw snow lingering on all the hills.

It was a weekend of darkness at the lightest time of the year.  Below is the view from my father's garden, as another heavy cloud settled over the village.  We feel cheated of the lovely long evenings as we sit indoors or go out for quick, brisk walks.  Despite that, the span of daylight at this time of year is a wonderful thing.  On Saturday night I went to bed at 10.30 pm and it was still light.  During the night we had to get a medical visit for my dad, and so we were up at 3 a.m.  It was daylight again.

There are still blooms of course.  The white lilac in the photo above is beautiful, and this clematis in my dad's garden holds all the blue of the skies we can't see just now.  This is the first time for many years that we've visited at this moment when this clematis is out. I felt a bit like Monty Don, banished to boarding school and missing all the unfolding and blossoming going on in the garden at home.

The next verse of Matthew Arnold's poem goes on to describe the 'high midsummer pomps' of the garden.  I'll settle for mid-level pomps and a bit of warmth and sun.


  1. Everything has been late in my garden this year too, and in fact I am still waiting for my climbing roses to bloom. Lots of buds but no flowers yet. I refer to my 'summer' and 'winter' wardrobes too. All it actually amounts to folding a few thick jumpers away and bringing out a few summer dresses and a pair of sandals, still, sounds rather grand I think! X

  2. Lovely flowers! Sorry for your cold, damp weather, but we've been having a unseasonable hot, dry spring here in Oregon. I worry what this lack of moisture will do to our lush forests come August.....and hope we don't get any bad forest fires. Too bad we can't trade weather with you! :)

  3. Beautiful clematis plant. The color is so great and the plant is so abundant with blooms. Thought of you this morning as Rudy Max, a travel show on pbs, was checking out your country. It is a beautiful world that you live in and yet where is that darn spring.?

  4. Real summer seems a bit elusive here as well. Beautifully moody shots!

  5. That is a lovely Clematis. I always like a stormy sky.

  6. We had a wet May (the wettest month ever recorded in my city). But now we're back to normal and I had to turn the air conditioning on in the house as we hit 94 °F (34.4 °C) a couple of days ago, even at our elevation. I love the scenery in Scotland (and Britain as a whole), the flowers, and those long summer evenings, but don't miss that weather!

  7. I so wish I could wiggle my nose and magically be in Scotland again! I always linger over your photos.....I have never been there in the warmer months. We spent the entire month of December but we loved it so. Perhaps one day I shall visit again. Maybe with one of my daughters. Louis Dean is too high maintenance! Did I ever tell you about him singing The Battle of New Orleans in London's Heathrow airport? He is a character and I must tell you everyone was kind......

  8. It has finally warmed up here but it certainly isn't summer-hot yet! I'm not wearing winter clothes thank goodness!

  9. Lovely photos of this wintry springtime. The clematis and the white lilac seem almost to glow in the dark!

  10. In contrast we've had some very warm weather here recently and the garden is romping along and looking a bit wild now. Wish I could send some warmth your way! That clematis is truly gorgeous :)
    Cathy x

  11. gorgeous pics, really think they are breathtaking

  12. But... it's SCOTLAND! No weather exists which takes away the magic - it's wonderful in all its moods.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts