Monday, 16 January 2017

The lurgy lurks

Dear Monty,

I know you want to know this (It's a bit like sharing pictures of our breakfast or ourselves on social media) But I, yes me the important little man that I am have been suffering from the 'Lurgy'. A cross between a virus (with productive cough and headache which has lasted 4 weeks) and a depression - very little oomph - no motivation and everything having a darkness attached to it.

It is getting better slowly but what it has shown me yet again it that everything can be coloured a darker shade by the mind. What once seemed to shine suddenly becomes dulled no matter how hard we try to lift the dullness.

The garden is overcast today, the 'pergola' at the end of the garden is just about ready to collapse with rot. I have no energy to face it.

But I listened to Private Passions on Radio 3 on Sunday - and the lyrics of the first song played told us to forget perfect offerings ! Yes - nothing will ever be perfect and the light comes in when we accept that everything is cracked.

So I boldly declare that both myself and my garden and everything I do is not perfect and that lifts me into the light again.


Monday, 26 December 2016

I am barely here but the garden remains

Dear Monty,

It has been a while since I wrote to you. People are saying that this year has been one of tragedy - it is true and barely bearable. The depths to which we sink always surprises me until I see myself and realize ..... OK I am full of prejudice too.

Gardens are places of healing are they not ? I find even in the Winter there is a sense of something bigger than our foolish ways to be found even in this small garden.

I remember being disappointed in the summer that my little artwork of a garden still does not have enough for the garden photographer and more importantly - friend - Charles Hawes to find interesting . I accept this and look for ways of making it visually more so - it is a challenge in such a small space.

I read Noel Kingsbury's blog -  In his latest blog he has written about Japanese gardens - and the art of placement. I believe this is what I am aiming for. Not a pseudo Japanese garden, but one with elements that exude a sense of peace.

I am still hopeful.


Saturday, 19 November 2016

Upon the roof - remembering where I am

Dearest Monty,

We had a leak around the chimney of our wood burner, only a small drip thankfully, but it meant climbing up on to the flat roof of the kitchen in order to seal it.

It was a frosty misty morning - the mist sinking into the valley.
Being elevated helped me to remember where I am - where this small garden is - perched on the side of a hill which is now surrounded by trees.

We often lose the context when we are at ground level. I realise that I need to get that sense of context back.

I recently visited Hauser and Wirth in Bruton Somerset where the Oudolf field is laid out like a sole of a running shoe. I found the whole scheme too flat - too much on one plane. It is as though I crave higher structures - punctuation if you like. Perhaps it is as a result of living in the hills for so long.

Looking down on the garden from the roof was a bit like looking at the field of perennials - everything was flattened out - and to be honest I am getting bored with the fixed vista - perhaps it is because keeping the trees and shrubs in pots either side of the path - means they are kept small. Maybe I need to set them free ?

However I love the fact that making a garden - like making a painting - is a continuum - a process. I think I am yet to get what I am looking for - I need like all of us to feel rooted, connected. It needs more work.


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Going to bed for winter and discovering Paul Nash

Dear Monty,

Now you have been put to bed for the Winter and the digital door to Longmeadow closed, and the dogs retreat to their beds and blankets, I have to look elsewhere for inspiration.

Fires and flames - Autumn burns here from yellows, reds, oranges - eventually to dry twigs.

I have just watched BBC4's War Artists - presented by Andrew Graham-Dixon - this episode was about the work of Paul Nash. Nash is a painter I have not investigated beyond a few of his wartime landscapes. I fell in love with his early and later pastoral landscapes - seen by me for the first time. Although not mentioned by Graham-Dixon, I could see the influence of Samuel Palmer and Blake in his work. I could also see cross fertilisation from Ben Nicholson - all artists I admire and am influenced by.

I identified with Graham Dixon's interpretation of Nash's work, particularly the idea of the endowment of spirituality into his unpeopled landscapes. They are statements of the spirit.

Today I see fire in the grasses above Pen-y-Cae and in my own garden.
I am fired up like a red hot kiln - ready to burn away the dross and refine my vision in plaster and paint - the landscape, garden and poems where feet have walked and where I have dreamed.

Have a good hibernation.


Sunday, 2 October 2016


Dear Monty,

I notice that gardening is being promoted as being good for both physical and mental health, now while I agree with this - I do think it should be pointed out to prospective garden makers - that it can also be fraught with anxiety.

My anxiety fluctuates like the seasons.

Yesterday the light was such that the structure of the garden - even a harmonious rhythm, spoke peace to my inner man, but today it seems to have gone ! How can that be?
Is light playing tricks with me?

Unlike you I do not have much flower colour in the garden, most of the colour is provided by leaves, and I suppose this may be the problem.

Nevertheless - how good it is when it does work - Yesterday was a moment of heaven.
I tried to capture it in a sketch and photograph - words cannot describe why I felt so at ease with it.


Sunday, 18 September 2016

A bit scattered

Dear Monty,

I persist in writing to you - I do apologise.

There is a time for everything under the sun.

I so often miss the timing because my mind is full of scattered thoughts.
I think we need time for reflection and observation.
It is said that seeing is believing - but sometimes it takes eyes that open to that place beyond our usual level of conciousness in order to see and believe.

Today a dragonfly dark and mysterious landed on my head. Its wings clacked as it came to rest on my thinning crown.
How awesome to be able to hear its wings, as awesome as the Autumn song of the robin and the scattering of leaves in the low light.

Some scatterings.


Sunday, 11 September 2016

11th Day, blue skies

Dear Monty,

Blue skies

How death eats us up
These fruitful minds which outstrip our bodies.
We think we fly above it
Yet it stalks us like a hunter in the shadows.

Give me sparrows in the hedge
Give me the plaintive Robin
And angled light through strap-like leaves.
Give me loving kindness as long as I can give it in return.
There is the rub.
Kindness in the face of knowledge.
Stepping down - giving way is so hard to do.

We are given so much that is unmerited.

Flowers give hoverflies nectar and pollen for their pad-like mouths
The flowers on the duvet cover hanging on the line give me sustenance.
A pattern against the hedge - over the throne I never sit on.

Give me a happy hound with wagging tail
Chickens pecking at this year's grapes
The last flush of red foliage
Dappled and appled.

Autumn stalks in and brings mellow melancholy to my heart
Oh I wish I was dead to my passions
Or at least sleeping peacefully.