Sunday, 30 August 2015


Dear Monty,

For the first time I too have had my grapes harvested by wasps - Is it related to the lack of warmth and late build up of the nests - therefore a dearth of food ?

This has been a challenging year both for the garden and for humanity.

The garden is still a place of sanctuary and in that I increasingly see my wealth - it is painfully pointed out to me in the 'news'. I have a home which I am paying for - I have food and clean water, I have time to think about other things, yet you can still catch me grumbling about my salary and what will be a pension taxed at 20% - I am aware of my selfishness. Have I become immune to compassion ?

It does feel as though my conscience has been seared as with a hot iron. I see the horror of those fleeing from war dying trying to reach 'freedom' our freedom - my freedom. Do I want them to have a slice of it ? Is our 'way of life' something to be fenced off from others ? - I'm beginning to feel uncomfortable.

Having a thin skin may make us vulnerable to attack like the grapes on the vine  - but perhaps we need to know that vulnerability in order to be compassionate. We build systems and bulwarks to keep out those who want what we have - and because it is a system all built on the shifting sands of economic theory and our dependence upon gambling and guessing how to play it to our advantage - it makes us nervous and defensive. The trouble with any system is that it inevitably gets abused because it seems by nature we find sharing our wealth and freedom painfully difficult -' I do not want to loose all I have gathered up for myself.' Fool !

The garden is thinning, I am thinning too. Perhaps it is good to be thin.


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Enjoying the fall

Dear Monty,

Here in the coal-tip garden leaves are falling.

Premature falling that may be caused by disease.

I wanted to halt them - a bit like Canute holding back the tide.

The rain could make my spirit droop like the leaves, but I find myself enjoying the rain the drooping and falling.

Perhaps I have come to terms with my ego - perhaps a garden is more than a collection of plants.

There are lessons to be learnt in falling.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Where does peace reside ?

Dear Monty,

Why do so many of us find peace within our gardens ? Does peace reside there or in our heads ?

Is there something within us human beings which responds to the natural biological world outside of knowledge? A kind of chord - a note - a harmonic, like a faint memory of something ancient and beyond words.

Yesterday there was a kind of dance going on, a ballet of movement and light.
A red admiral swirled in and out of the hydrangea flowers. Hover flies of different sizes and colours performed a zig zag tango tussle over the large umbels of the purple stemmed giant hogweed.

I was sitting on the red terrace looking across the garden toward the poplar tree growing in the valley below us. The poplar has a unique dance of its own - the leaves shimmer almost in slow motion - quite unlike any of the surrounding native trees.

The red terrace

I am content - even in this strange garden with all of its poor horticulture and disease problems.

Peace despite noise - a song within.

4th Pembrokeshire 'garden' tortoiseshell and red campion


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Pity the cabbage white

Dear Monty,

Having seen you protect your newly planted cabbages from cabbage white butterflies - it made me realise that I haven't seen many this year.

Despite warmth yesterday - a brief interlude with blue sky and a light wind there was a dearth of butterflies in the coal tip garden.

There were honey bees, bumble bees, wasps, hover flies, a gangly legged wasp, one hedge brown, one speckled wood and a common blue - that is all. Oh and a frog sheltering in the shady hosta and a silent peregrine falcon swooping overhead.

What has happened to all the insects ? What has happened to all the aphids this year ? Is it just me that is missing them ? I have seen no ladybirds or ladybird larvae - because there have been so few aphids - was it the birds that have snaffled them ?

I worry about the lack of insect numbers. We walked through a wild meadow full of meadow cranesbill and meadowsweet with the purple haze of knapweed in the grasses and yet there were one or two meadow brown butterflies. A silent field.

Our buddleia is usually covered in small tortoiseshells, commas, peacocks and red admirals but not one so far.

I converted to the love of insects late in my childhood, I remember at one time being petrified of them because of their sheer numbers - one memory in particular was of a walk through the long meadow grasses in the valley below Pennard Castle in Gower. The grasses were taller than me ( I am still of small stature - but not that small) they were full of grasshoppers,crickets, bees, beetles, daytime flying moths and a host of butterflies, the place was alive buzzing and chirruping.

I lament for the silence of the meadow and the loss of the abundance of life.

To try and capture the beauty of what is left I am continuing to make paintings  of the Pembrokeshire coastal path around St. David's. It is a soulful pilgrimage capturing in fresco nature's gardens on this thin strip of 'unproductive' ground. It still sings.


Saturday, 1 August 2015

Owl returns

Dear Monty,

An ode to Owl

O owl o gwdy hw

You have returned

You have brightened a dull day

You have flown back to me.

How did I not see you abandoned there in the long grass ?

Your flight was but a hundred yards

From arms you slipped

Or were dropped.

Perhaps the queen of the night disturbed you

Gwdy hw

Now I am uplifted

As are you


I perch too.