Monday, 13 April 2015

Dora's field and the Wordsworth Daffodils

If there is one story that shows the character of William Wordsworth then it is surely the story of Dora's Field. This small patch of land in Rydal, cared for by the National Trust since 1935, hosts one of the least well-known stories of the great poet.

Wordsworth and his family rented Rydal mount, the large country house that can be seen from Dora's field, from Lady Anne le Flemming from May 1813. In 1825 Lady Anne announced her intention of giving the tenancy of Rydal Mount to a relative. Under threat of eviction, and desperate not to be forced away from the idyllic Rydal, William purchased the field (then known as 'The Rashfield' - the damp land was full of rushes) and made it clear to Lady le Fleming his intention of building on the field in what ever way he wished (this would have been right in the view from Rydal Mount). George Webster, a famous Kendal architect, was even paid to draw up a design.

The threat was enough and Lady Anne backed down, and Wordsworth gifted the field to his daughter Dorothy, hence the new name 'Dora's Field'. When Dorothy was diagnosed with leukemia Wordsworth cancelled his travels and they spent her final few years together. When she died Wordsworth and his gardener planted hundreds of daffodil bulbs in her memory - the same flowers that can still be seen today (quite literally on this occasion - see picture below).

In preparation for this years daffodil display our staff and volunteers worked hard to clear the pathways from the winter build-up of leaf litter, clear back some scrub from the daffodil areas and remove some of the invasive Cherry Laurel trees from the garden borders to prevent further spread. Once established Cherry Laurel puts down a poisonous ground layer of chemicals that stop any ground flora from growing, decreasing the value of the area to wildlife.

 Five large laurel trees - a monoculture and blocking our neighbours light

And after - since this image natural regeneration of native species has already begun occuring

Volunteers tending the fire site - as cherry laurel can grow new roots from cut branches we had to burn the brash on site

The smoke from the fire creating a lovely photo opportunity

Reinstating a historic dry-stone wall

Dora's field is open all year round and is located in Rydal next to the Badger Bar on the A591 between Ambleside and Grasmere. The daffodils are still in full bloom and will be followed by an excellent display of bluebells and wild garlic.

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