- The market town of Bourne, Lincolnshire, England -
THE WELLHEAD GARDENS are just a short step from the town centre and a popular walk for townspeople, especially in springtime when the cherry blossom is in bloom. The white and pink flowering cherry trees that line the main path through the gardens form a colourful avenue for walkers and lunchtime strollers and many visitors walk the path and then, enchanted by the sight, retrace their steps to take another look.
Towards the end of April, the petals fall and float down from the branches like snowflakes in winter, a reminder of the age-old fable of an Icelandic princess who married a Portuguese prince and went to live in his country but missed the coming of winter and so he planted an avenue of cherry trees to please her because they would simulate the falling snow each year when their blossoms fell.
The gardens also contain the Wellhead Cottage, one of the oldest domestic buildings in Bourne, nestling behind high hedges with the tower of the ancient Abbey Church as a backdrop. The origins of this house are uncertain but the most recent records tell us that it dates back to the 18th century and was formerly part of the Castle Farm, built in the local style with a blue Collyweston slate roof and rubble and limestone walls. It is a Grade II listed building owned by Bourne United Charities and occupied by the park manager.
The location suggests that the materials used in its construction may even be older and could have come from Bourne Castle when it disappeared in past centuries because England is full of old houses that were made from the stone of far grander mansions that were demolished in the name of progress. The water table hereabouts is also high and long periods of wet weather, especially during the winter, bring flooding to many parts of the park.
One of the most attractive features of the park are the weeping willows (Salix x 'Chrysocoma'), graceful trees that are among the most characteristic of our English landscape, especially near water where they can grow to heights of 65 feet. They can however, choke drains, dry out the surrounding area and even threaten the foundations of buildings if planted in suburban gardens but here on the river bank, the damp soil provides the perfect environment where their long and slender yellow branches covered with brilliant green leaves cascade over the water, providing a colourful display in springtime and hanging like silken drapes gently brushing on the surface.