Sunday, 28 July 2013

Ziggurat, roof and rats

Dear Monty,

There is much to do to restore the old band hall to somewhere near its original appearance, but at least the new slate roof helps.

I'm stuck in the past.

Last week we visited Somerset to see friends who were celebrating 30 years of married life. They live on the edge of the Mendip Hills and have a view looking over the levels with Glastonbury Tor in the distance.
I enjoyed the garden party on their steeply sloped garden which was less about the garden and all about the stunningly beautiful view. Both Dave and Beth are professional people at the top of their tree, and therefore their friends were likewise. A deep-seated insecurity started to rise in me and at one point it almost paralysed me. I'm not at the top of my chosen profession, and have always preferred to have feet planted on the ground, but this does not equip you well in the company of the aspirational in terms of like-minded conversation, or so my insecurity told me.

We were welcomed and eased into conversation with company directors, headmasters and lecturers, whose sons and daughters were also headed for academic heights. I eventually dropped my insecurity, but it shocked me just how quickly it came to the surface.

The garden in my humble opinion needed a journey through it, and if it were mine I would brake up the slope with a ziggurat like path with low hedges and planting between them, leading to the upper terrace and that view.

The coal tip cloister garden is making its own music, the radicchio is flowering, beautiful tall spikes of blue flowers. Here is another failed attempt at growing vegetables they never formed hearts - and the leaves were too bitter for my taste, but the flowers are beautiful so I have left them, they create a harmony with the meadow cranesbill.

It seems you have a rat problem, so do we. Where there is chicken feed, there be the rats. I have resorted to bait. Trapping and drowning them was not an option. It is distressing picking up the dead bodies, perhaps I am too soft. I now feed the hens small amounts more frequently, rather than filling the feeder in the morning. An obvious solution, but one that was slow to dawn in this brain of mine.

I have enjoyed reading 'The Road To Le Tholonet' I love the fact that gardens can be about more than horticultural know how, they are expressions of place and symbolic of the person who makes them.


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

O bid my anxious thoughts disappear

Dear Monty,

I'm not sure you really need to know this, but the bees have gone, they were successfully relocated to a new hive somewhere nearer the sea. I regard this as a victory in the bid to care for the world a bit more. This is a small gesture I know, but I was so grateful to the members of Swansea and District Beekeepers' Society. I did have to destroy the few remaining stragglers however, because they were gathered around the chimney flue, and the builders would not go near them.

They honey was almost clear and beautifully sweet, the comb dropped down three feet into the old flue and it took great effort to remove it along with the colony. I had a look down the flue, and despite being surrounded by the bees and unprotected, I was not stung. I have great respect for bees, and am no longer afraid of them.

I am reading 'A French Garden Journey' and enjoying it very much, as much as my most favourite book based around the subject of gardens  'The Bad Tempered Gardener' by Anne Wareham. Sitting in the garden in this glorious warmth makes the serotonin flow, and I become fanciful and imagine that this mini paradise is influenced by my visits to France.....but then I read some reviews on and I become anxious about my garden. It has a jumble of plants with things in the wrong places - which are eventually moved. It would be thought of as dull and lacking in colour too because it is in its summer lull, but I love it even now.

My garden is my garden , I love it and was encouraged by reading in 'A French Garden Journey' about La Louve:

 ' Yet it is small, the planting contains little of horticultural, let alone botanical interest, there is a very muted palette - hardly any flowers, and it was created with almost wilful ignorance and neglect of basic horticultural wisdom. Thank God. '

My garden is a plodders garden, it is made (as long as I am alive) by intuition and a little knowledge (very little). I suppose as an artist I do things more by feel than by science.

The garden on 17/7/13 was subtle and beautiful in the simplest of ways. Self seeding combinations seem to work sometimes with a repetition of the same colour providing a rhythm all accidental and more glorious for it.

Vive La France!