My first letter written 4/8/11

Dear Monty,

Here I am doing a crazy thing - writing in my journal to a TV gardener. Strange as it is, I see threads of connection.

Right now there are wasps on the raspberry leaves and a field mouse on its way to collect chicken feed from the chicken run. The sun is actually shining and I am enjoying my weedy, pest- ridden, diseased garden in this early morning of a near-autumn day. I say near-autumn because the robin sings its autumn song - and the swallows gather in large chattering groups above me. Anyway to the point - I wanted to ask you a question when I went to listen to the discussion about Italian gardens at Hay this year - but I felt like a dimwit amongst the intelligent -so didn't ask this question... are you obsessed with order in the garden ? I read that it was all that clipping of hedges at Long Meadow that contributed to you falling ill. I too have this streak in me - probably common to all gardeners in varying degrees. It seems we have to create order out of rebellious nature.

Italian gardens as they appear now, and as discussed seem in the main to be about control, order and showiness. Is there a balance to be had ?
I see many elderly people in my line of work and one sadness is that of seeing those who were keen gardeners - no longer able to garden...they become so frustrated at what they see before them. I have learnt therefore to relax a bit more....probably too much ! My garden has pests and plants in the wrong places - the hedges are not straight, but I love it still. I see wildlife thriving because I am a scruffy gardener.
 I have noticed too that the wilderness produces amazing 'gardens'. The coal tip behind our house has areas of outstanding natural beauty! There are combinations of purples, blues and yellows there now...I tell you not even Solomon in all his splendour is as beautiful !

So Monty, do I detect a relaxation of spirit? Don't get me wrong I love lines, balance and carving and sculpting nature - but part of the joy is letting it overflow then in due season cutting it back.

Cheers Monty.

Paul the deluded artist and gardener.


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