Miss Willmott had a thing for daffs. No, really, she was crazy about them. On joining the male-dominated Royal Horticultural Society she promptly invaded the all-male Narcissus Committee and won gold medals in four consecutive years.
Warley Place would have been sunshine-yellow with prize hybrids, named for her sister and brother in law, and a much-missed sister who died before her eighth birthday.
They flowered on the lawns, by the lake, in the valleys under the trees in drifts of orange, yellow, cream and white.
As she grew older and ever-more eccentric Willmott became paranoid about her best varieties, booby-trapping the most important and even carrying a revolver in her handbag to deter bulb thieves.
The garden still glows golden with bloom, though Miss Willmott would hate the nasty feral flowers that have seeded themselves throughout the place in a glorious mongrel jungle.
She’d hate even more the fabulous wild flowers that have crept in over the years. Happily they jumble away, rubbing shoulders with what’s left of Miss Willmott’s prize daffs, nodding in the breeze to delight the rest of us. Here are some images – but if you want to catch the daffs you’ll need to hurry – with this lovely weather they’re wilting fast.
Mahonia and Magnolia rub shoulders with pulmonaria, scillas and violets.
There’s more to come. Just a few weeks now until the next instalment – bluebells – they’re already poking their heads through the daffodils.
Then there’s the rhododendrons – some are out already, but the buds bode well…
….and as for the foxgloves – I’m salivating over that particular purple-fest as I type…
Warley Place Nature Reserve is open every day but please remember – no dogs!