“Green is the prime colour of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises”Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Spanish poet and playwright, 1600-1681
Summer’s here. High summer. It really is. In all its glorious British quirkiness. Sharp chilly gusty winds and bruised skies are followed in quick succession by balmy Mediterranean sun-drenched days and back again. Brollies, wellies and woolly jumpers, or flip flops and floaty block print dresses? One minute I go from feeling rather smug as I admire the white bedsheets on the washing line snap merrily on the summer breeze. Only to swear furiously in the next moment as the heavens open and I’m grappling heavy, wet sheets into the laundry basket, hair plastered to my head. But what does remain constant at this wonderful time of year is the ever-present glorious, wondrous green; at least fifty shades of it. It’s as though an enormous patchwork quilt in every hue of green has been tossed over the rumpled bed of our green and pleasant land.
Green is the colour that is most associated with nature, being as it is, the most common colour in the natural world. According to colour experts, it’s considered to be calming, stress-relieving, and even paradoxically – invigorating. Designers often use green for spaces intended to foster creativity and productivity. We are so fortunate during these heady summer months to be surrounded by so much of it. There are more shades of green than any other colour - seen in our fields, gardens, trees, hedgerows, village greens, tennis courts, meadows, cricket pitches and even in the oily dark green of our rivers. The grasses in the verges and alongside footpaths and tracks grow long and untamed – taking on a wild savannah or prairie feel to them, their deep green long green stems topped by paler fluffy seed heads. I must admit that a part of me dies inside when I see tractors with their hedge trimmers noisily hack this wild green growth down to a dry stubble. I marvel at fields which resemble endless rippling green oceans of chest-high wheat and seas of undulating whiskery barley crops. Vast galleon like oaks, horse-chestnuts, beeches, sycamores, hornbeams, and lime trees stand proudly green and majestic in full leaf. The green of these trees is varied, yet uniform at the same time, occasionally broken up by the distinctive deep purple of a copper beech. Silvery weeping willow trees dip their swaying long tendrils into cool pools and ponds of the darkest green. Nettles with their fine-haired stinging greenness are plentiful too, but happily, so too are the docks which often grow alongside the offending plant – their leaves are famously used to soothe nettle stings. Clever old nature.
It has also struck me that the greenness of these summer months is often highlighted and accentuated with splashes of white; green lawns are sprinkled with delicate white daisies that pop up all over the place, like freckles on a sun-kissed face. They are rather unfairly considered lawn weeds – but they are a favourite of mine and my three girls who love threading them together to make delicate ‘daisy chains’. Hedgerows are spattered with a riot of white bramble blossom, white hogweed and ox-eye daisies set against dark green foliage. By the time summer rolls around, shepherds have been hard at work shearing their woolly flocks - so even the freshly shorn sheep appear whiter as they graze in fields of lush green. As in nature, so too for the best of our British summer! Village cricket pitches up and down the country are the most perfect examples of dazzling cricket whites juxtaposed against immaculately mown pea-green rectangles. Wimbledon is in full swing – the longest running tennis tournament in the world, where games are played on grass and there’s a strict white-only dress code for players. The lawns, all of them – from Centre Court right down to the ones on the outskirts of SW19 – are manicured to perfection reminding me of the most impeccably ironed green striped pyjamas. Our gloriously green British summers are chock full of wonderful village fetes, festivals, sporting events and county shows where the ubiquitous white marquees and tents stand proud and dazzling in the greenest fields, parks, and meadows.
Get your green fix this summer – the best of our green and pleasant land:
Wimbledon. Tennis whites and green stripes. What a week, book for early July next year.
Henley. Messing about on boats on the green banks of the Thames. 2023 early July calling.
British Polo Open Gold Cup - 17th July. Divot stomping on a green pitch fit for a Queen
The Game Fair 29th – 31st July. Celebrating the Great British countryside in all its glory
You can't beat a good old-fashioned county show. Like a microcosm of the wider countryside, they bring together almost every aspect of rural living and here is a hand-picked selection:
Kent County Show - Delting, 6–8 July
Great Yorkshire Show - Harrogate, 12–15 July
Royal Welsh Show - Llanelwedd, 18–21 July
Sutherland Show - Dornoch Links, 23 July
Mid Devon Show - Knightshayes, Chettiscombe, Tiverton, 23 July
Words by Tula Goodwin.
Imagery by Tula Goodwin & Willow Crossley.
Tula Goodwin lives in Wiltshire. She is a PR Consultant, writer & mother to three daughters who is now living back in England after 12 years in the Singapore tropics.