We really had no excuse…we have visited this particular village a number of times. We have eaten in its pub and sheltered in its shade… we even made it inside the usually-locked church in a strange and rather spectacular fashion. To make matters worse, we havelooked down into the watery dell from the churchyard, without realising what we had found.
The Lyde Garden was created in 1988, from disused watercress beds, by the late Lord Carrington, a British peer and politician who lived at Bledlow Manor. The Manor is set in beautifully manicured formal gardens, laid out with geometrical precision and populated with sculptures from artists across the globe. In complete contrast, the Lyde garden appears to grow wild. In fact, it is carefully planted, following a style set by William Robinson and Gertrude Jekyll for using a mixture of indigenous and exotic plants to create a lush, naturalistic garden.
Tiny mosses carpet the ground while the huge leaves of gunnera shelter the fragile blooms of geraniums and tenacious hydrangea. Ferns and fronds of all descriptions compete with evergreens to be the glossiest, while the willow weeps leaves of gold onto the water. You can imagine the place ablaze with colour in the summer, alive with darting damselflies. Even in winter it is a refuge for birds… we were greeted by a robin on our arrival and after that, the leafless branches were never still.
It was an unexpected find, and while it appealed to the gardener in me, it was most exciting for the fact that this is where a river arises, born from eight springs flowing together to make the Lyde Brook, then the River Lyde, before eventually joining the River Thame.
Now, ‘eight’ has been making itself felt as a significant number for the past few years, ever since we ran into the geometries of the church at Bakewell during one of our workshop weekends. And streams under churches had been on the scene since our visit to Kilpeck, the little church covered in extraordinary carvings… including those representing the four sacred streams meeting beneath the apse of the church…
We are yet to solve all the mysteries implied by those numbers and the presence of running water beneath a church… something we have come across several times now. But as sacred springs seem also to be making their presence felt on our journey, all we can do is watch, listen and try to make sense of the ideas as they present themselves.
Of one thing though we felt quite certain… the presence of these springs had something to do with the high weirdness we had experienced when we had been able to visit the church.
For, not only had we been granted access in a most unexpected manner, but time and vision had parted the curtains of normality giving a glimpse way beyond its bounds…