Sunday, 29 November 2015

Walks in landscape contrasted with stepping into the garden

Dear Monty,

A long-winded title on a very windy day.

I had an elemental walk above Talybont on Tuesday with my good friend, photographer and garden maker Charles Hawes, I have no photographs to show as I have blown up my laptop by plugging in a faulty usb cable! I do share the above sketch made from memory of the startling birches at Blaen y Glyn.
I share the account of the walk as written in my journal - along with a walk done at the beginning of the month on the route of the old railway from Swansea to Brecon. I also try to describe the comfort of coming from wilderness into the garden.


Tapestry of yellows, golds, browns and dark greens fading into light.
Orange grasses
Coal black tip
Mist and engines
Rivers burns streams
Muddy cattle
Welsh longhouse
Three oaks
Stalks of rosebay willowherb

Houses and chapel of Caerbont fade into the curtain

Blond grasses mix with copper
No more scent of sulphur in the air
The bright air

Neil walks with his dog into oblivion
Embraced by God.


Deep clouds - mist - rain - sleet
Rainbow and shafts of light
Roads lit up like silver streams

The remains of snow streak the ridges.
No sheep to be seen on the high slopes
Water falls over a pavement of ripples fossilised from an ancient sea or lake
In reds and pinks

Cairns mark tragedy and achievement
Blasted off our feet
Inland away from the sharp escarpment edge

We then fall down the slope vulnerable as any boned creature
Shuffling down
Sliding down the glacier carved curve of the valley

Returning to the waterfall a tapestry of Rothko reds and
White trunked birch lit from below by orange bracken
Halt us.

Stepping through the gate into this small ordered space after walking in the landscape strangely brings an overwhelming sense of comfort and calm.

It is as if I need boundaries and order and a space that is within a human scale.
Perhaps I am a sheep brought into the sheepfold.


Sunday, 22 November 2015



I asked you if there was going to be any inspiring garden related programmes broadcast this winter - I was very impressed with the answer and the resulting programme.

I have just read an article in the Telegraph written as a result of an interview with you before your promo on The One Show. What strikes me is that your personal views of gardens and garden history are almost at odds with what you present on GW. I picked this up some time ago when listening to you speak at the Hay Festival. I just feel that you have a lot to give in bucking the trend of gardening in a particular style or formulaic way.

There are many influences on us as gardeners - and I agree that the more gardens we see, the better we are able to refine our ideas of what kind of garden we want.

Making a garden is a glorious way of expressing the creative seed that is in us all.

The trouble is when I listen to garden programmes I tend to relax so much I fall asleep.

Sometimes I think we are all sleeping - I just cannot deal with the stupidity of our species.

I watched Anthony Gormley's account of how his art has developed, it was very moving and visceral.
As a child he was birthed into the life and ritual of the Catholic Church. He said that one of the profound and motivating moments in his life was his time as an attendant at Lourdes. Undressing the weak, ill and disabled before immersing them into the waters with no outward effect or end to their suffering. This made Gormley angry and he saw his religion as a kind of lie. But what it did not do was extinguish his sense of the divine in terms of who we are locked in this body we inhabit.

I struggle with healing - I always have as a Christian and nurse. I have known people to be healed - and others who have had much prayer without any change. The truth is we are all dying. Gormley senses that there is much more to us than just the body - we have minds which can think and imagine beyond its boundaries. Despite the fact that we are bound by physical and biological laws - by cell growth and cell death - while living - we are far more than this. It is as though we have the seed of the eternal planted within us.

And yet we have but brief lives upon the earth - short lives which we seem bent on destroying - how we have lasted this long is a mystery in itself.


Sunday, 8 November 2015

Dumb Idol

Dear Monty,

A poem for Remembrance Sunday

Under the cold moon's light
The soil remains warm

The worm turns and twists
It casts off its scent
Of damp earth

I push tulip bulbs into the soil
With bare fingers

They will see a new spring
While my eyes dim

The moon once awesome and bright
Weighs down like lead

I plant a dumb idol
My tongue lights too many fires and the
Forests flame

Anger eats up life
It is a consumer
It feeds on judgement
And begets more
Until it gets fat
Ripe for death.