Out There column: Wordsworth thrills with host of daffodils

Ingrid pictured with the daffodils in the background.
Ingrid pictured with the daffodils in the background.
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When I heard that an entire day was being devoted to ‘Wordsworth’s Daffodil Legacy’, I had to experience it for myself.

Most people can recite at least a tiny part of Wordsworth’s poem Daffodils. Here’s the first verse to get you in the mood:

Thomas Mawson's Italianate garden at Rydal Hall which is open to the public.

Thomas Mawson's Italianate garden at Rydal Hall which is open to the public.

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

The poem has been quoted and misquoted so many times that to some people in the world of poetry, it has become a bit of a joke. It’s also much maligned for being too sickly sweet.

However, the feelings and the atmosphere that Daffodils captures resonates with many people. To try to get a deeper understanding of why Wordsworth chose to immortalise his beloved daffodils in print, I went to two gardens which were open in aid of charity through the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) on Sunday.

My husband Mark didn’t need to be persuaded to join me as it was a gloriously sunny day. We chose to visit two gardens which meant a great deal to Wordsworth.

The first was Dora’s Field at Rydal near Ambleside. I was instantly beguiled by the beauty of the place.

Great banks of daffodils had been planted and they were even ‘fluttering and dancing in the breeze’. It was incredibly moving to learn that Wordsworth had planned to build a house on the land but after his daughter Dora’s untimely death he planted the area with daffodils in her memory. It’s a special place and I’d recommend a visit.

We walked through St Mary’s Churchyard and up the hill to Rydal Hall which is opposite one of Wordsworth’s former homes, Rydal Mount. Rydal Hall’s Italianate ‘Arts and Crafts’ gardens were created between 1909 and 1911 by the famous landscape architect Thomas Mawson.

The recently restored gardens are magnificent and they are open to the public on a daily basis. We left feeling inspired.