Midsummer in Denmark is a time of wild abandon


Midsummer is a big deal in Denmark. There are bonfires on the beaches and in many people’s gardens. Fireworks. The works. The Scandi sun is now rising before 4.30am and setting nudging 10pm. More than 17 hours of sunlight, clouds willing.

Farmers here are in their fields much of that time. Making hay for fodder, tending barley, wheat and livestock. Verges are encouraged to flower. A percentage of farmland has by law to be left wild. Hundreds of buttercups compete with thousands of daisies. Poppies are in abundance. Wild blue-eyed chicory colours the roadside.

There is a comforting soundtrack of cuckoo and skylark
Roads closest to the sea are often reserved for cyclists and walkers. There is a comforting constant soundtrack of cuckoo and skylark. It is not all idyllic, of course. Jylland farmers near us like to spray their fields with pig slurry, which can be challenging.

Wild works here. Purple vetches grow in profusion on the plot, like miniature sweet peas and are beloved by every type of bee.

We have apple trees, espalier pears. There will be blackcurrants for jamming, if Henri’s brother can get to them before the birds. The redcurrants we leave for them. The only other things we grow for flavour are the woodier herbs and abundant chives.

There are, of course, occasional sown nasturtium, though they don’t always thrive in our dry and sandy soil. In the past year we have been here more often than before so I have added a wild meadow mix

There are leggy lilac hedges first planted here more than 60 years ago. Many of our neighbours have replaced theirs with laurel and other evergreens. Keen to keep ours, I cut some close early last summer. They’ve filled out, flowered and grown another four or five feet.

I trimmed more this spring and am heartened by the quick results. A total attack might be our next big job. For now, vases of lilac cuttings scent the summerhouse as I write.