Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer


  • Spring in the Territory of Rain

    skein of geese against a blue sky
    geese heading north

    This photo was taken at Gartmorn Dam, on a cold but sunshiny morning. It was lovely to be out – there were signs of spring everywhere, celandines, blackthorn blossom, a wren singing on almost every bush, robins in full courtship display, and the first chiffchaff calling in the trees around the dam.

    yellow flower amongst new greenery

    I’ve had all my markers for spring, now – the first celandines, curlews, oystercatchers, and, yesterday, skylark song over the fields to the east of the village.

    spray of pale lilac cuckoo flower
    cuckoo flower

    I took a walk up to the haggard I had especially in mind when I was writing Haggards. New leaves of yarrow, comfrey, nettles, (especially nettles), horsetails and vetch are showing already, and celandines, shepherds purse and whitlow grass.

    clusters of tuny white flowers growing through tarmac at the edge of a road
    whitlow grass

    Ivy berries are ripe now and I braved a tangle of nettles and brambles to get some for the start of dyeing experiments for this year. I’ve saved some roots of yellow flag and meadowsweet too, and when someone in the village was thinning out a birch tree, I got hold of some bark pieces, so the first dye-pot of the year will be happening today. Last year’s experiments were very satisfying, but this year I am determined to be more meticulous in following the instructions, to see if I can get some reds, purples and maybe green.

    white starry flowers on a bare stem
    blackthorn blossom

    I have been sowing seeds too, so while I’m watching the simmering colours, I will be clearing away last year’s debris and planning for the summer. The garden has survived the winter pretty well, with daffodils, primroses, violets and wind anemones, and the best news of all – in spite of the crow which scooped a lot of frogs out of our pond, there is frogspawn!

    Over the next month I’ll be looking out for the return of migrating birds – the swallows usually come back in the last week of April – and watching the tadpoles grow. I’ll take regular pictures of the wild flowers in the haggard, propagate a lot of herbs from soft cuttings, and listening to the dawn chorus. By the end of the month there may be fledgling sparrows – they are always first to hatch – and the gull colony will be looking for nest sites.

    five white flowers , new leaves
    wind anemones

  • Half a Hundred Herbs – Sowing the Seeds

    daffodils and cyclamen in pots  The cloud has come down and it feels bitter outside, although the frost has gone. But on Tuesday, the sun was shining and I took the first photos. The garden is beginning to wake up and put on colour.

    The crocuses are out undercrocuses first primrosethe rowan tree,






    and the first primroses are showing.







    pondI’ve seen frogs mating in the pond, but there isn’t any spawn yet. The black-backed gulls have come up from the coast and they are staking out territories on the warehouse roof, and bullying the smaller black-headeds who have been here all winter and thought they had the river to themselves. There”s a woodpigeon attempting to build a nest in a completely unviable fork in a birch tree, and I’ve heard a woodpecker hammering, and a thrush singing. best of all, the curlews are back.

    All of which means it’s time to sow the first seeds. the sweet peas are in, and the tomatoeoas and half-hardy annuals will be next. They’ll go in the propagator on my windowsill – it might look north, but it’s a dormer with light on three sides, so it usually does pretty well. The hardy annuals, first salads and chervil and parsley will go into pots in the greenhouse, which seems to be reliably frost-free, and we’ll be off.

    flowering quinceThe dried and frozen herbs I’ve been cooking with over the winter are coming to an end, but the chives are coming through now, and the sage thyme and oregano have enough growth to risk a first cut. Everything else is beginning to bud, now, though the rosemary stilllooks a bit shocked, and the sorrel has a lot of fresh green leaves. I love the taste of sorrel, but you do have to get it very early, or it will be too sour for pleasure. There may be sorrel sauce with the chicken tonight!


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