St. Lucy’s Day

Nocturnal upon Saint Lucy’s Day.

T’is the year’s midnight and it is the days,
Lucy’s who scarce who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
The sun is spent and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
The world’s whole sap is sunk;
The general balm, th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither as to the bed’s feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr’d, yet all these seem to laugh
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.’            
John Donne. 1572-1631

Poor John Donne was feeling a tad depressed when he wrote this poem to celebrate the shortest day, if ‘celebrate’ is quite the word to use. Before Britain switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, the 13th December marked the winter solstice. How this day became associated with the Catholic Saint Lucy, I am not sure. No doubt the Nordic pagan goddess of light was adopted by the Catholics and adapted to suit their beliefs. The Sicilian Saint Lucy met a suitably gory end and is often depicted holding a dish containing her eyeballs, which were supposedly gouged out before her death. The Catholic church enjoys a bit of blood and gore with its virgin saints’ myths.
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In Sweden, Saint Lucie’s Day is celebrated as the one in which light returns to the earth. I wish it would hurry up. Today was one of those days when it never really got properly light at all. One feels that John Donne had a point.

To cheer myself up on Saint Lucy’s Day I have been dreaming of summer . One day in June, proud gardeners in our village opened their gardens to the public. Despite vowing never again to open my garden for the public, I got caught up in the excitement and joined in. Visitors came from far and wide to nosy round, (sorry enjoy) our gardens and more importantly to drink tea and eat cake. Garden opening has a way of concentrating the mind, so when the garden photographer, Guy Jordan came to take photos of the flurry of sprucing up, we hardly noticed him. With Guy’s permission I am sharing the photos he took of the garden.

Oh dear,  I’m not sure about this first one; the rainbow chard has gone to seed and scarecrow Chloris is not looking her best. The photo was taken before she got her blonde wig and padded bra.
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Guy was quite taken with my snail shells guarding eyeballs from the sharp sticks holding up the netting.
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A quick mug of tea,  but no time for  sitting about. 717A0356
The Lonicera nitida hedge is looking neat and tidy for once. I hacked great chunks of the Mahonia so that people could get through the little path leading round the big pond.
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In the greenhouse my Epiphyllum was having its fleeting moment of glory.

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I love the way Guy captured the light filtering through the branches of Acer drummondii.

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He seemed to linger round the little pond.

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Thank you for the lovely photos Guy, a reminder of a bright summer’s day. But, where are my beautiful roses? Next year, please remember my roses, the very essence of June.

Looking at the summer garden on a dreary  December day is a great way to plan for the coming season. Next year the ox eye daisies you see in the first picture will have disappeared. I have a project planned for this area. So far it only exists in my mind and on sketches on scruffy bits of paper. But, oh what fun planning a new project is. There is nothing like it for the long dark winter days.
I hope your Saint Lucy’s Day is full of dreams and exciting  projects too.

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28 Responses to St. Lucy’s Day

  1. Loved this post. I look at it as….once you hit the shortest day of the year, each day gets a minute longer of sunshine! I enjoyed reading about the history of St. Lucy’s Day and am passing this one along!

  2. Debra says:

    Happy Saint Lucy’s Day, Chloris. I heard my husband humming Sheryl Crow’s song “I’m going to soak up the sun, I’m going to tell everyone, to lighten up …” this morning as he went about his routine. It struck me as a bit amusing at the time but I guess his spirit got it right. (These are all beautiful images and just right for this gloomy looking day today btw and ty)

  3. Cathy says:

    Those opening words of this poem have been in my head all week! I love Donne’s poetry, although as you say it can be a bit dreary. Only a few weeks now before we start seeing the light coming back. Thanks for sharing some summery photos to brighten the day!

  4. We’ve had beautiful sun and warm temperatures all day so I feel quite tragic over the gloom you’ve endured. Saint Lucy with her eyeballs in her hands certainly puts things in perspective, though, don’t you think? It’s a comfort to know the days will be increasing soon, if only by baby steps, but our coldest weather is still ahead. Spring wouldn’t be nearly as glorious, I suppose, if winter wasn’t so dreary.

  5. Oh, and your house and garden are fabulous. I’m glad you found those photos to cheer you up!

  6. Gillian says:

    I enjoyed reading your post very much and your Scarecrow is great fun too.

  7. Liz, I think you need a winter reprieve, Like the Caribbean or something. Part of my dark misspent youth was in Italy and I think I saw the bones of St. Lucy or her eyeballs somewhere.
    Let me know if you are headed this way..there are some really crazy gardens in SoFla we should see.
    .I will give you the scarecrow award for 2015.

    • Chloris says:

      The catholic church is very fond of gory relics. These saints were very careless with their body parts, not only did they leave them around everywhere, but they managed to multiply miraculously too.
      I would so love to head your way and visit gardens with you Amy, but sadly, it’ s not to be.
      I am planning a new wardrobe for the scarecrow next year.

  8. rusty duck says:

    Did Chloris actually scare off any birds? I bet she did.
    What an amazing chimney you have.

    • Chloris says:

      I don’ t know about the birds but she scares me.
      The chimney is a sixteenth one which was added after the house was built along with huge inglenook fireplaces and a spiral staircase.

  9. bittster says:

    I think you will need a few more photos to bring yourself up from a plate of eyeballs. Things must have been completely dreary today.
    I also missed the color and sunshine and long days today. I should have been enjoying the unseasonably warm weather but the low sun and unconscious garden just drain me. I can only look at the same cyclamen leaves so many times and I actually wouldn’t mind a few inches of snow to brighten things up.

  10. Happy St. Lucy’s Day! I hope the sun comes out for you soon. It has been incredibly mild around here lately, although it rained all day today. Love the scarecrow Chloris, as always!

  11. pbmgarden says:

    How nice to revisit your beautiful summer garden to lift your spirits today. Wonderful photos. We had nice warm weather this weekend. I could almost imagine we were having spring rather than heading into winter.

  12. Kris P says:

    I just put in a Lonicera nitida from a 4-inch pot but, if it gets as big as yours, I’m in trouble. I’m glad you’re already celebrating the turn in day length.

  13. Christina says:

    Lovely to think of spring and summer. I’ve been told that the saying in Italy is that you plant garlic on Santa Lucia; I’ve just planted mine, I follow the idea of plant on the shortest day and harvest on the longest.

  14. Sarah says:

    It is so good to look back at the summer garden in the depths of winter. It was dreary yesterday, we went to Canterbury to collect our sainted daughter, but I’m told it was a lovely day in Sussex. Your garden inspires me every time I see it Chloris. I have a plan to make a new border, but for now need to rein in my enthusiasm and concentrate on choosing white goods and wall light fittings for an old cottage. Any recommendations for the latter gratefully received!

  15. Flighty says:

    Interesting post and pictures. Dreaming of summer sounds good to me. xx

  16. Brian Skeys says:

    I will have to start collecting snail shells. I look forward to seeing your plans for next year develop.

  17. Great post, Chloris, though your scarecrow looks bedraggled in this pic and I’m glad you added the nice blond wig and padded bra. And that John Donne poem is so depressing, you’re right. But hey: the sunne shonne in splendour before long in your post. And I knew not all that stuff about St. Lucy.
    Glad you opened the garden and I would have been one heading for the tea and cake before long, but what lovely shots of your garden. And that last photo is a keeper. A sight for sore eyes.

  18. Charming post Chloris and so lovely to see summer shots of your beautiful garden. Planning what to do next is part of the fun of a garden. Please let us see sunlight soon. I am wilting!

  19. Sam says:

    It’s lovely to see a sunny, glorious garden in the depths of the year – thank you!

  20. Anna says:

    It’s been rather dark and dreary here for some time Chloris – I can’t remember when we last saw the sun 😦 I think you came up with the ideal solution for cheering the spirits. I wonder what your new project is. Look forward to all being revealed in due course.

  21. snowbird says:

    You do have a lovely garden….also a rather splendid house!
    It’s interesting to think how many pagan festivals dates were adopted by Christians and called something else. Oh….the thought of those gouged out eyes shall haunt me this evening!!!! We could all do with a little more light, it’s dark by 3.30 pm here….
    Guy’s pics are lovely and using snail shells is pure genius!!!! A marvelous post, as always!xxx

  22. Well that warmed my cockles, thank you! Lovely photos, and wonderful memories. Not long until next summer ….. 🙂

  23. Cathy says:

    Oh how I giggled at that plate of eyeballs!! Interesting to see your garden from someone else’s perspective – that must seem months and months ago now (which of course it was!)…

  24. Photographs provide a great winter escape, and these certainly bring back the feel of a sunny June day. Very clever use of the snail shells – if only St. Lucy had thought of that.

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