Sunday, 28 September 2014


Dear Monty,

Leaves glow like stained glass. There is a warmth to Autumn that despite the thinning and falling - creates a sense of joy - berries and pine scents  - honeysuckled gloaming.

The garden rescues me again from rabid thoughts - toxic attitudes - negativity.
Cleaning up leaves raking the thinning grass I begin to see structure sparking new plans.

The architecture of artemisia lactiflora begs division and multiplication. The newly revealed beds cry out for a mix of plants to form a block of differing height and texture.

The evening draws in - my minds eye draws new spaces and new structures - planes and hollows.
Trees to cut back - revelations.


Monday, 22 September 2014

Diminishing returns with supper

Dear Monty,

I have heard you quote 'the law of diminishing returns' as a way of justifying the cutting back of flowering plants. I have been thinking about this and see that diminishing also applies to me as a human being and also to the change of the season from summer to autumn and on into winter.

I diminish
I grow older
The sun sinks lower
Autumn comes



Around a table we discuss beauty
We see each other as we are
We decide we do not know how to define it
But there are common threads
To do with balance - harmony - form - structure

Indian summer
Winter longs to break in
Bone showing through the thinning skin of the year

I hope not to appear foolish
Beauty - lust - hedges - towers
Life in all its tumult

Art is a reflection of living
It tries to make sense of the senseless

That is what makes it beautiful


With thanks to Anne Wareham and Charles Hawes  and Lucy Masters the master organiser.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Forest Coal Pit, God and Garden

Dear Monty,

From Waun Fawr

Longmeadow looked lovely last night - edited and framed as it was by low angles.

I have not tuned in to the new radio series of 'Shared Planet' yet, but understand the concerns that are highlighted and which drive us to find solutions.

On a walk with Charles Hawes from Forest Coal Pit to Waun Fawr on the Black Mountains we contemplated the fate of our species and this planet we think we dominate - our conclusion was the inexorable drive towards human catastrophe! Cheering thought. It in no way phased us that we seemed to agree that we can do little - and we continue to piss into the gale - even though it splashes back in our faces. We laughed but not in an arrogant and ignorant way - we laughed because of the recognition of the fact that the universe and this planet will continue and change - we are but a destructive blip in the vastness of time.


Mountains and vistas
Monks and mysteries
Culture and ethnicity

We walk the forest in dread darkness
The golden sunlight filtered out

Breaking out 
We pant and gasp up steep contours 
To rise above valley and bare reservoir
In the streamer ed sky of linear clouds -
Ghosts of airliners heading west -
We see ravens and raptors

Ponies on the ridge ponder human intent
And move as though definite
Along their intended path
Only to halt
To wait for some token of our love
Some scrap of food perhaps
To fuel them on this bright day
A sudden bray and snort
And the relationship is strained then ended

We strain as we climb again
To the ridge end
The gliders silent at eye level
To a trig point now redundant
Save as a destination
For us to pause
For the task of another climb

We mounted Waun Fawr without knowing it
And rested on a lower peak
Then down
Knee shatteringly down
Tumbling down the slope
Edged by a fossil forest
A scar of grey stumps
Following a stream as clear as crystal

At the conclusion
We returned to the familiar
And the ugly

The litter left by humanity


National Botanic Garden of Wales

The coal tip garden

God and Garden

I thank God for the garden
The clatter of drying leaves
Interspersed with robin and chaffinch song and the shadow of a red kite above

There is no vista here 
Except for the garden and the trees beyond
Which on most days smother the sound of cars
Except on an east wind

Oh but it is a haven!

Why thank God for it ?

Most of our ideas  of God come from others ideas and from what we think we know
We shrink back from God these days equating the name with hatred - rage
Why believe in a God that seems - according to some of his followers - to enforce worship and obedience upon us - and if it is worship - can that come from violence and intimidation - is it true worship ?

I don't see God like that
I just see vastness and intricacy beyond my knowledge
Subtlety and mystery

I saw all that in the back-lit wings of a tortoiseshell butterfly warming itself
I could be rational - I could read up on the research about its need for pattern and colour
All I know is it lifts my inner being to a place beyond human 'wisdom'

The indomitable intention of God is to continually bring into being a never ending creation - one beyond our control
And this is what I see in my garden below the coal tip
In leaves 
In sounds
In insects
In the changing seasons
In light

How rich I am
How blessed I am

'How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news'

We so need good news.

The hills of the Upper Swansea Valley


ps My feet aren't that beautiful !

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


Dear Monty,

I had a good weekend at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. The gardens are like a lung, there is an exchange of gases that takes place. Stress and weariness exchanged for rest and reflection.

The Orchid Festival 

Orchid scent and flowery people

The gardens misted in an early Autumn cloak

Quiet of butterflies.

I did not sell any paintings - but I met some fascinating people with stories to tell both mystic and mundane, all had a love of nature, of plants and of art. Ideas were exchanged and contacts made.

Polly O'Leary displayed beautiful original watercolours of botanical art.(I'm now a happy custodian of one of them)

I feel excited - there are new ideas for my garden and artwork - all this a result of meeting new people and keeping in touch with good friends - of debating and discussing - of laughter and sorrow.