By GRAHAM HARVEY
Landscape painting: Laice Wright (left) and Olivia Smith, both 22, admire the stunning field of wild flowers created by Denise and Brian Herrick on a former piece of wasteland in Somerset
This is nature at her most exuberant — a riotous, rippling romp of colour amid the green pastures of Somerset.
Dancing in the light summer breeze, a thousand vivid hues of blue, purple, red and gold explode, as if the Impressionist painter Claude Monet had spilled the contents of his palette across this tiny English meadow.
Its creators — Brian and Denise Herrick — call it a Field of Dreams.
It’s a flower meadow on a grand scale, with 57 different species of annual flowering plants.
When the field was opened to the public as a free event, the couple had no idea about how big a response it would provoke from visitors.
Many were moved to tears, while children burst into shouts of joy and excitement.
‘It seems impossible to look at flowers and retain feelings of anger,’ Brian told me as we sat on the terrace at Barcroft Hall, South Petherton.
‘People look at this and are overcome by feelings of peace.’
Since buying the small estate of Barcroft Hall ten years ago, the Herricks have renovated the house and turned the 85-acre farm into a combination of formal gardens, wildlife areas, orchards, woodland and sustainable farmland.
Their latest project — the Field of Dreams — was inspired by visits to Kew Gardens, Table Mountain National Park and Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town, South Africa.
They decided to turn an unsightly and rubbish-strewn field at the edge of their estate into one of the country’s biggest displays of annual wild flowers from around the world.
‘In today’s climate, with such strains on families and especially the elderly, everyone needs a place like this to promote harmony,’ says Brian.
‘At the same time, few of us can be truly happy unless we understand the natural environment — and that means being able to see it, smell it and touch it.’
Thanks to the couple’s vision and hard work, we, too, can revel in the fruits of their labours.
The Field of Dreams can be visited by arrangement. See www.barcrofthall.co.uk