Saturday, 11 March 2017

Oh right we are in THE BOOK !

Dear Monty,

I have had a delivery this week - the 'Yellow Book'. We are in the book. What is worse is the picture they have published makes the garden look fairly decent when in reality it is a bit dismal at the moment. In short I have a LOT of work to do.

But I'm not panicking ... No I'm really not .....Well perhaps a bit.

The main thing is making it worth the £3.50 entry - but Rhos y Bedw who we are partnering with is worth that alone. I know that there has been a debate about the standards of the gardens included but having met some of the gardeners/makers, they all get great pleasure from their gardens, and to be fair its main aim is to raise money for Nursing Charities. As a nurse myself I have seen Macmillan and Marie Curie in action and know the huge impact they have with individuals and families going through the trauma of cancer.

Gardens lift the spirits - even on dull days - but even more so on bright ones. I may not be writing many letters to you in the coming months Monty, yes I know you will be disappointed but I will be in the garden - you are welcome to pop over and give me a hand.


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Panic, panic, don't panic

Dear Monty,

Sara Venn recently blogged about her own neglected garden - but she spends so much time helping others I don't think she needs to feel bad about it - but of course we all do.

I admire her honesty - it's like we should all have pristine plots at all times - tidied at the right times etc etc.

I admit to feeling slightly panicky myself as I watch Spring moving on apace and Dan Pearson is digging and delving and you Monty are gearing up to tell us what we should be doing right now.

I'm glad therefore for Anne Wareham who has just published her new book Deckchair Gardener - I have only read the introduction but already I feel better.

Here is my garden - with rot and overgrown grass and shrubs not pruned on time and a border not yet dug and plants not moved and paint peeling off walls. Pergola needs demolishing, shed needs new roof and window and door ! And supposed to be opening again in June with NGS.

'Pergola' needs taking down

Dogwoods need pruning back

Grass needs cutting

All needs a tidy

New border is meant to come out towards path edge

This patch is to be extended to where the sculpture sits and plants moved !


Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Awakening

Dear Monty,

I have almost felt like giving up writing to you, maybe it's a bit like how Virginia Woolf describes writing in her diary ...' the worst of writing is that one depends so much on praise. I feel rather sure that I will get none for this story; and I shall mind a little.'


An un-lived life to be lived


Spears cut the cold membrane of soil

Hope returns.

I would bring you gifts -

Coffee in bed, flowers

But 'the ebb and flow of the tide of life'

Washes over me.

I dream of the white cotton

Your grassy bed

The uplands

The soft cushion of bracken.

I think of the spring from where you came

Gushing forcefully out of geology

The geology of our roots

Our minerals

Our skin and bone

The hills and the river

Our home.


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.