Solstice and Subtlety

Dear Monty,

I loved the sublime acanthus in the long walk, the wonderful thing for me was that you wait each year for it to have its moment.


Enemies are friends and they know it not. Sitting in the coal tip cloister garden in the cool of the day.

If someone were to critique this small garden I imagine it being very negative, I know that criticism is good for you and helps you to grow, unless that is you have a surf-like mentality like mine.

This is how I imagine the critique would go :

From the front of the house (they call it a band hall, but it looks like an over sized pebble-dashed local authority bungalow) you would not guess that this place has a 'garden' of any merit whatsoever - and when you enter through the rear somewhat suburban and neglected rear gate - you come to that very conclusion.
Almost instantly you see that there has been no attempt whatsoever at correcting some of the fatal flaws in the 'design'. There is very little money if any, spent on this garden.

The Terrace!

The 'gardener' has left an outdated patio in situ which he euphemistically calls a terrace - with odd faded red concrete slabs from the 80's. Worse he has allowed that common scrubby little daisy from Chile invade all the cracks.(he says he was inspired by Anne Wareham - oh the poor fool !) He even allows rosebay willowherb to grow freely in the terrace border - yes the uncultivated kind.

The vista

The vista from the terrace is as unappealing and predictable as they come, just a straight path of yet more cheap concrete slabs sunk into the weed infested lawn, which I should say is not a lawn - not in my book.
The eye is led to a hell hole at the end of the garden which he alludes to as a mine entrance which is inhabited by a breeze block owl on a wooden sleeper and a gaggle of raggedy hens behind a chicken wire and trellis fence.

In an attempt to be 'arty farty' he has plunged laths painted black at various points in order he says; to bring symmetry and a sense of calm, each one has a found object mounted on top with a single word written on the base making up a three word load of tosh which he calls a poem - Soil Soul Toil . I just see this as a frankly weak attempt at creating 'atmosphere' and a 'sense of place' IT DOES NOT WORK.


This garden shouts : 'I DON'T KNOW HOW TO GARDEN!' with its incoherent planting which again contain weeds such as nettles and teasels for goodness sake. The excuse it seems  is that lame one of 'I'm gardening for wildlife'. Apart from the paths which he did not build, there is not a straight line to be seen, he tries for symmetry with pots on the grass but even these are inconsistent in size and shape and are imperfectly aligned.


Finally in this tragic garden there is a pond, again you could hardly describe it as such, it is so densely planted and surrounded by areas of unmown grass full of weeds such as birds foot trefoil and cuckoo flower, that it looks like a boggy patch in the corner of a field.

This garden is a fools paradise - I for one will not be visiting again. Next week I'm of to review a proper garden - The Lasket in Much Birch.


Mourning for subtlety - I aim for the subtle yet it slips from my sight both in my art and the garden.



  1. What on earth has got into you, Paul? Nasty, that.

    1. Yes it was a bit - I just wanted to see what it would be like to be critical - harshly so. It is a bit shocking how easy it is to find fault. I do actually feel that way about it sometimes because I suffer from delusions of grandeur !

  2. I dunno, Paul, but I reckon you may be comparing your efforts too ruggedly against the 'great' gardens. The feeling of a garden is always more important than its appearance, and the feeling of yours is one of a quiet, well-synchronised protectiveness. That is something that no amount of greatness can attain without feeling.

    1. Thank you Faisal I am a fool living in a fools paradise garden ! I have strayed off the path I think. Thank you for your kindness.

  3. Paul - you need to check your comment system. I always have trouble posting a comment (I've cut and pasted this comment 3 times before - this is the 4th). This time I've seen a comment count of 4 for this post, then on checking the comments have seen only two (and the count changes). Then a refresh and one of the comments disappears and your response to Anne appears. Having closed down my browser and come back in I see two comments by others and two replies from you.

    That said, I have one simple request - please stop running yourself (and your garden) into the ground (pardon the pun). OK, we only see views of the garden that you supply and that's not the whole garden (my own blog won't cover my whole garden in the pics and, as far as I can see, neither will you see all of Veddw from the galleries there). But what I see I like. And from what I see and read, I imagine a place that is quiet, apart from birdsong and the noise of nature, and reflective. The sort of place in which to immerse oneself to commune with nature; to become close to whatever one's concept of a supreme being is.

    Instead of running yourself and everything down, perhaps your next post could be a walk along those stepping stones, disappearing into the distance, describing the myriad of small joys you encounter on the way. Sort of like the long-awaited walk through Charles' waistcoat wardrobe.

    1. John thank you for this reply, my reply to you seems to have disappeared, I posted one last week, and Charles's comment never made it ! I am thinking about using Wordpress. I'm sorry I posted this blog now, it was a moment of madness fueled by wine - probably too much wine.


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