Jane DeVoe, Board member and Chair of Garden Committee
William Wordsworth’s poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, commonly known as Daffodils, was inspired by a walk he took with his sister Dorothy and the journal entry she wrote afterwards. Dorothy writes about never having seen daffodils so beautiful. She marvels at the contrast between the bright yellow blooms nestled between rocks, moss, twigs, describing them as “a long belt along the shore” waving in the wind over a lake.
The daffodils at the historic site were first planted by Selma Steele at the House of the Singing Winds, as she began to learn the art of landscaping and hilltop gardening through trial and error. Rachel Berenson Perry writes in the new forward to The House of the Singing Winds: The Life and Work of T.C. Steele, “She read agricultural bulletins and, through a few seasons of trial and error, slowly learned the secrets of hilltop gardening. She hired neighbors to haul in wagon loads of manure and gathered leaf litter to work into the nonporous clay soil. She learned to propagate from seeds and plant flowers such as daffodils that would naturalize on their own. After one disastrous year when all the bulbs washed down the hill,
she avoided placing new bulbs on the steepest slopes.”
Daffodils and crocus plants peeking out through the dirt give many the hope that spring will soon be here and all of the lush green and vibrant pops of color will soon return to the gardens and landscaping, which are highlights of a visit to the T.C. Steele State Historic Site, where visitors can walk the paths among the flowers, hike in the hills, take a seat to write or
place an easel and paint en plein air.
One of the magical characteristics of the genius of Selma Steele’s garden and landscape design is the way in which there is always something new or about to bloom. Garden Club Groups and Master Gardeners are always welcome for a field trip to the site. Anthony Joslin, who maintains the landscape and gardens at the site with an eye for the historical detail, welcomes Master Gardeners to volunteer time to maintain the gardens, especially during the summer. Friends Members are also welcome to join our Garden Committee. We welcome new committee members.
I invite you to visit the site this spring and summer to partake of all the glorious beauty of a site which is known as one of the greatest
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
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.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
William Wordsworth, 1815