A bluebell beginning

Brenda writes: “This weekend we’re at Hinsley Hall in Headingley, a couple of miles out of Leeds, teaching on a chamber music weekend. Hinsley houses the offices for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leeds as well as being used as a conference centre.

Built in 1867 by Wilson & Wilcox of Bath, it opened in 1868 as the Headingley Wesleyan Methodist College, training Methodist missionaries, who were then dispersed to Fiji, China, Burma and Swaziland among other far-flung places. During World War II the College was used to host a WRNS Writer School when it was known as HMS Headingley. 

In 1998 the building was fully refurbished and an octagonal extension to the chapel added. We’ve been doing the course here for the last six years, coaching amateur string quartets and – on this occasion – a string quintet. On the Saturday evening we do an informal concert in the chapel for them. The days are punctuated by plenty of eating and drinking and most of us end up in the bar in the evenings. There are not many gaps in the timetable but I did manage a short walk in the grounds today. They’re mostly laid to lawn with shrubs and trees but it’s always worth looking round the edges to see what wild flowers have colonised the area. In a shady corner I found my first bluebells of the year…..soon there will be carpets of them in many places.


I also had to laugh at the row of tubs at the bottom of the steps which haven’t yet been planted and have been colonised by chickweed and common stork’s bill, and in the quadrangle in the middle of the building there was a splendid display of wavy bittercress in a stone planter, so named because the stalks are not straight but angle slightly between each leaf.

wavy bittercress colonising a stone planter at Hinsley Hall

And nestling against a wall was a patch of herb robert, a member of the geranium family, with its lovely pink flowers and some of its leaves reddish tinged.”

herb robert

New species for April 15th:
Flowers: wavy bittercress, herb robert, bluebell