The First Stirring of Spring and the Hilda Murrell Diary’s

Daffodil (Narcissus)

Hilda Murrell nature diary’s often comes to mind when working in the garden surrounded by birdsong and plant life.

Unseasonable spring like temperatures have been experienced reaching 16c today. Different from the last couple of years that has seen higher than normal levels of rain. This has previously restricted the opportunity to get into the vegetable garden at this time of year. Always being the optimist with fork in hand I ventured into the vegetable garden to see if I could plant some raspberry canes. I was pleasantly surprised with the ground ideal for getting the raspberry canes planted. A good measure of manure was added to help them grow and fruit in the coming season. We are already seeing flowers blooming in the garden and hedgerows much earlier than in previous years.

Snowdrop (Galanthus)

Last autumn I acquired a copy of Hilda Murrell’s Nature Diaries edited by Charles Sinker. This lady was a well known rose grower and a leading authority on old fashion roses. She ran her family’s rose nursery in Shrewsbury and won numerous gold awards at the Chelsea, Shrewsbury, and Southport Flower Shows. She was an avid diarist and this book makes fascinating reading. It has drawn me to take a greater interest in her life and writings.

Her diary’s give an insight into the climatic changes that have taken place in the last fifty years. It is interesting to note the reductions in bird and wildlife that has also taken place in the same period.


Hilda would probably have remained just a well known figure in floral circles. However in March 1984 she became familiar to a different public following her much publicised murder. Much controversy still surrounds her murder with many thinking her killers have never been brought to justice. Their identity remaining part of the unsolved mystery.

Hilda was an active objector to nuclear energy, in both its military and civil aspects. Theories put forward link her death to the fact that she had just had approval to present to the Sizewell Inquiry as an independent objector. At the inquiry she was going to give a damning critique of the Governments White Paper on radioactive waste management.  She had also made herself unpopular in some circles with her views that conflicted with the governments account of the sinking of the Belgrano and her nephews naval involvement in the Falklands War.

Hilda Murrell had a deep concern for the countryside and wildlife in Britain especially the Welsh Marches. She made regular visits to North Wales and her diary’s give an interesting insight into the countryside and wildlife from 1961 to 1983. Her ability to blend accuracy with poetry gave word-pictures of fascinating precision reverberating with truth. The following description is one that many will have shared during those magical moments when the nocturnal display of night blend with the magic of the mountains.

“The marvels continued after dinner, when a huge moon came up and over the shoulder of the Carnedds and floated behind an openwork fabric of cirrus cloud. The band where the moon was moved crossed it darkly with silver heavens behind: above and below, the tones were reversed and the clouds were ice-flows on blue-black depths. Below again was a solid band of softer cloud, dove-coloured  like the mountains, and the moonshine across the water” 

Her diary’s make delightful reading for anyone who is interested in nature and cares deeply for the world about us.


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