Glastonbury is steeped in British history and myth. The Chalice Well has been regarded as a sacred place since ancient times. The town has long been recognised as a Christian spiritual centre. It also claims that there are more than 70 practising faiths there. The Chalice Well and Garden is regarded as a spiritual place and living sanctuary. It is associated with Wellesley Tudor Pole. All are welcome to visit and share the garden’s peace and tranquillity. It offered particular respite after Britain’s tempestuous political week.
The garden shelters one of the town’s famous Glastonbury Thorns. I previously wrote about the Glastonbury Thorn, Craetaegus monogyna var. biflora in a 2017 Advent Botany Guest Blog. It was good to see a living tree in the garden behind the Lion’s Head Spring. It seems that my visit was ill-timed as the tree only had a few berries and leaves left. However, it was covered in lichen and moss. Lichen are often indicators of pure air quality.
The garden offers many seats to pause in tranquillity, unfortunately that is not always easy in one of Britain’s major tourist towns. My visit followed a couple of days after World Peace Day and the Autumn Equinox associated in Welsh mythology with the God Mabon. He is described as the Child of Light and the son of the Earth Mother Goddess, Modron.
Sunshine after the Rain
It was drizzling when I first arrived in the garden. I had to change all my camera settings when bright sunshine broke out in the garden. Bees and butterflies returned to the garden’s flowers with the sunshine.
As a botanist, I was pleased to discover that the Chalice Well had plant name signs in the herb garden. Although the accepted name now seems to be Aloysia citrodora for A. triphylla according to Kew’s Plant List. The RHS agrees but notes 4 different binomials in total and alternative common names. Plant classifications are complicated today, despite Linnaeus’ best efforts.
There were some beautiful autumn berries on trees and shrubs in the garden. Below are the purple berries of the aptly named Beautyberry, Callicarpa.
There were many other lovely autumn plants, shrubs and trees in the garden. One of my autumn favourites is the Ice Plant, Sedum or Hylotelephium spectabile. It is usually popular with insects too.
By contrast, I always regarded Hydrangeas as the unimaginative gardeners’ choice for their front garden until I saw the beautiful hydrangeas at RHS Rosemoor in Devon and gardens of Cornwall.
The Chalice Well Garden features a number of the garden plants that the RHS recommends for pollinators. They provide nectar and pollen for bees and many other types of pollinating insects.
Apart from all its beautiful garden plants, the garden also boasts a view of Glastonbury Tor. You have to peer between the berries the Sorbus species or Rowan trees. In British folklore, the Rowan is reputed to offer protection from witchcraft and enchantment.
There are also impressive tangles of Yew, Taxus baccata, branches in the garden. Though toxic, Yews have long been considered sacred trees in Britain. They symbolised death and resurrection in Celtic Culture. I headed home revived in spirits by my visit to the Chalice Well Garden, noting how even the dreary weather had improved since my arrival.
Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics. Viewpoints are her own, not those of her employer.
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