I’d never really appreciated the passing of the seasons until I moved to the Chateau de la Lande. Our first winter was glacially cold – we had no heating and it was -10’C in the house! But there were two unexpected benefits of that hardship. The first was that I forged a strong bond with the chateau. We endured the cold and the dark together, and together we felt the warmth of the first rays of sunshine. The second benefit was a new, vivid understanding of the awakening of the earth in the spring. I, who’d always taken flowers for granted before, marvelled as snowdrops and daffodils pushed through the bare earth, and as the first buds appeared on the trees.
Then, as a magical surprise to me that first spring, our woods became a mass of bluebells. Even after several years here, it seems miraculous to me whenever I see that transformation. One moment a lovely forest, the next…faerie land.
We start the spring by bringing all of the flowers we can find into the house, to brighten the rooms and bring the sunshine indoors. Each week our kitchen table charts the progression of the season.
At first they’re daffodils, then bluebells, then masses of wildflowers, followed, at the end of the season, by my favourites of all…peonies.
And then – heaven – it’s time for the picnics to start. We take these very seriously at la Lande! We use different tables, chairs, tablecloths, crockery, depending on our mood.
We choose whichever part of the garden is prettiest that day. Fine linen, porcelain, crystal – nothing’s too much! But always, always, with flowers.