Autumn

The Meadow

Immediately after the end of the Festival there is a lull in the brouhaha that is always around Glyndebourne. For a brief short week before the start of rehearsals for the Tour the theatre, the offices and workshops are quiet and the gardens empty and calm. It’s during this moment of quiet that the gardeners’ thoughts turn to the next season. New planting schemes are discussed, seed catalogues pored over and daffodil and tulip bulbs ordered. Over six-and-a-half thousand bulbs will be planted this autumn.

The Glyndebourne gardens are maintained so that they look good all year round and the gardeners always use this week to cut the orchard meadow.

The grasses and wildflowers are cut and the seeds are raked into the stubble to ensure that the meadow will be full of flowers the following year. Head Gardener Kevin Martin likes the job (“The sun always seems to shine when we cut the meadow”) because it’s a time when all the gardeners work together and it feels like the start of a new season. Next year’s Festival may be a long away off but the seeds in the meadow are already germinating.

The colours of the meadow constantly change, accompanying the continuous transformation throughout the Glyndebourne calendar. Next spring, when the first artists and technicians arrive they will see primroses and dwarf daffodils in the meadow and as rehearsals begin, there will be snakeshead fritillaries and pheasant-eye narcissus giving way to camassias and the blossom of the fruit trees. By the time the first audiences arrive the meadow is a froth of cow parsley. People with sharp eyes will see wild orchids. As the season progresses there will be poppies and oxeye daisies and cornflowers. And by the end, as August draws to a close, corncockles and the bleached panicles of grasses are punctuated by scabious and knap weed.