Saturday, 30 January 2016

Water and wood

Dear Monty,

We walked the wild wood in Penllergare

Victorian estate of Dillwyn-Llewelyn

River reflections

Mud and flood

Light and parkland trees


Cliffs - steps - cuts

Lost with dog

Over brooks

Water over wellingtons.


The carriage walk into the sun

The distant sound like sea

The cars to Carmarthen.


Sunday, 24 January 2016

The holly and the Ivy , or is it Ilex aquifolium and hedera helix ?

Dear Monty,

I have a lot of Ivy in my garden, it trails the ground in the borders and scrambles up the nearest available upright, which is its wont.

I have just read an article shared by The James Golden on garden movement. Movement not in terms of the wind making itself visible - but in the way a garden changes and plants move through the soil and begin to colonize.

A garden only exists in the mind of its creator in the sense that it is the mind that takes the information relayed through the eyes and edits what it sees. Perhaps I see an imbalance or an over dominance of a plant or shrub or tree which needs cutting back to maintain a state of harmony. What I have learnt from the likes of James, Anne Wareham and Noel Kingsbury is that this being in tune with change is part of the excitement of garden making. Allowing dominance can sometimes be risky, but it is good to see what the plants themselves want to do.

The sad downside to the fact that gardens exist in the minds of their creator is that once the mind dies, in a sense so does the garden. Of course if you have another generation of garden makers following on behind who see the concept and understand the philosophy then the garden may continue to reflect the person for a while longer, but inevitably eventually it will change and fade.

Gardens therefore are an intimate expression on an individual - a mind portrait. If you are wealthy and you have a large garden you can pass it on to the nation - but my back garden will go when I go. Does this make me sad ? Not a bit - I intend to enjoy its pleasures and pains for as long as I am here and watch that ivy giving it room but also cutting it back here and there, and I will watch the standard holly fill out in its tub until I decide where it should live.

I'm beginning to doubt my garden making skills though - as a debate on highlights the necessity of knowledge of plants and their Latin nomenclature. It seems to cause division, even an elitism which to me is a road to nowhere. There is too much of it in the world already. Let's encourage one another and forgive a perceived lack of knowledge. Nature knows - is that not enough ? Perhaps not, but I aim to keep on making my garden even if I forget the names of the plants.


Sunday, 17 January 2016


Dear Monty,

Contempt is such a ubiquitous attitude in our society today. I suffer from it myself. I noticed a neighbour throw rubbish onto the street outside the boundary of his front garden - and I admit I had feelings of dismay and a sense of grudging acceptance that this contemporary world is one of a disregard toward any environment other than the one we 'own'.

Why is there no respect for beauty and cleanliness ? Why do we no longer see litter as an eyesore ? Of course I am virtue signalling ; but isn't having a pleasant environment a virtue worth signalling ?

This lack of valuing the visual beauty of our environment seems to be a particular problem in South Wales perhaps because of a post industrial attitude to a landscape scarred by heavy industry. But that cannot be the whole story - because I remember neighbours cleaning and washing the steps up to their houses and keeping the pavements clean. Perhaps we expect others to do this for us these days ?

The amount of waste thrown from cars on to verges again makes no sense. Thrown by visitors to the hills which draw people presumably because of their visual beauty. It is anathema to me.

I am not trying to be super virtuous. I just love this landscape and this valley too much. Perhaps I need to despise it more and then I may be happy.


Sunday, 3 January 2016

Seven stars

Dear Monty,

The river mixes red soil like blood with the clear waters filtered in the depths of limestone.
A furious cauldron
Thundering under the wooden footbridge.

It pounds my ears
And thunders in my chest
Awakening my slumbering soul.

It shouts RAGE !
It hisses DANGER !
How quickly the mind reverts to fear
How fast I forget its vast and infinite origin.

Resting in the shelter of a porch
Conversation reminds me of the potent curse
Of knowing both good and ill in the land of the living.

Fear ties me up
Binding my mind
Keeping thoughts small
In the confines of Babylon's walls.

Whilst drinking coffee I notice seven stars in the crack of the paving beneath my feet
I see that LIFE courses like a river through my veins
A LIFE without restrictions.