Listening

Dear reader,

I've been immersed in gardens this last couple of weekends. Immersed in thought, reflection, a kind of listening to the deeper things.

I sits here and thinks

Last weekend I was at Aberglasney Gardens in Carmarthenshire taking advantage of an opportunity to show some artwork mixed in with the Welsh Orchid Society's Annual Orchid Festival. It was a chance to briefly experience the gardens before the visitors arrived, which is a privilege and a treat, and it also gives a kind of breathing space to hear what the garden is trying to say.




Art by me

Orchids


Beautiful botanical art by pollyoleary.co.uk


I walked around the inside of the walls of the walled garden designed by Penelope Hobhouse, where she has incorporated a walkway which separates you from the central axis and allows you to traverse the perimeter where you can stop and view the central space from different viewpoints. It is contemplative and mirrors the parapet walkway of the cloister garden which was created in the 1600's. I suppose the difference is that a privileged few would have experienced this kind of walk then, and now it is available to oiks like me. This garden holds its relationship to both the remains of the house and the surrounding landscape. The parapet walk deliberately connects you to the farmland beyond.

There was a real appreciation here it seems of its place in the surrounding landscape.




The other garden I've been immersed in is my own scruffy little garden and its post industrial surrounds, which is a rewilding coal tip full of wild flowers and regenerating woodland. I attempt to relate it to its place, and still be a contemplative space.


The coal tip cloister garden


The Tir bach coal tip

It astounds me and my artist friend Eleanor that there is so much biodiversity growing on what is a layer of coal shale and clay ironstone. Trees have regenerated among the thickets of brambles including pioneer species such as birch and willow as well as rowan, many oaks, alder, hazel etc. without any human planting. There are orchids, dyers rocket, hawkweeds of various kinds, meadow cranesbill, rosebay willowherb, st john's wort, evening primrose, persicaria, wild carrot - the list goes on. This place could be surveyed and monitored as an area of post industrial rewilding, much could be learnt about resilience.



Broad leaved helleborine orchid

Dyers rocket

Painting of broad leaved helleborine


I have had to learn the lesson of acceptance and resilience too, it takes a long time ! I often spend a lot of time listening, listening to the sounds of life, of struggle, of hearing the little ego inside me and the voice of connection. Perhaps we all travel through these depths and shallows in our life. I have found the voice of resilience comes usually from the harder realities of life. A perhaps more superficial and inconsequential example of my little ego, is that of the death of a viburnum bodnantense dawn in the garden. I had clipped it over the years to form a strong visual horizontal form, balancing the horizontal of the beech hedge. This year it got a blight and died, so I had to cut it down. I was disturbed and upset ! Only for a short while, because I realised that taking it out opened up that part of the garden, and uncovered geranium phaeum which had struggled in its too dense shade.

The garden forms in a kind of symbiotic dance between what the place wants to be and what I would like it to be, and gradually finding a balance between. It shapes around my soul struggles, we are wedded together in a non-linear dreaming.

Finally I have been reading an excellent and thought provoking online article by Anne Wareham in gardenrant.com about garden visiting, and what should we expect from gardens that open to the public. 

I think that a garden can be unconsciously superficial and as a result bear no relationship to place or person, or can be deep, soulful and relational. I know which ones speak to me the most. 


Paul


My box framed collage works are now in the beautiful new gallery/shop 'Lark' Craig Y Nos Country Park. 'Lark' can be found on Facebook. DM me here or email me at :  psrd.steer@hotmail.co.uk if interested in purchasing work.




What the eye sees. Tinted photographic print on plaster

Autumn memory of Hepworth Studio Garden St Ives


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