A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself. – May Sarton
I have just noticed that I wrote my last post on W.H. Auden was in December....
I have suffered rather a fallow time in between then and now, when darkness has been my enemy – particularly last winter on short winter days. But now I have turned to the light to find restoration and a cure.
I have begun sitting, reading and working in the large bay window that faces my garden. From here I can see the grass and the circle of trees that crowd around it. Peering through my trees to a nearby garden further down the bank I can see to tall silver birch trees. These slender trees stand tall and still when there is no wind. When the wind blows they bend and sway in a supple fashion, new leaves trembling on fine branches. When there is a storm these trees are whipped from one side to the other. But never break. They speak the language of the storm until it fades away and when they can they stand still and graceful yet again. In the months when I spent a good deal of time looking out of my window I got to calling them The Two Sisters.
Now the year has turned and the sun has been shining, spilling bright light day after day into the house and across the garden. Now I have even begun to sit outside and look around me to see, smell and feel the garden - the trees, the shrubs, the plants and flowers and to listen to the birds who populate the old trees,
Although from necessity the borders have been neglected in this year, instead of feeling guilty I relish their very life and extravagant creativity. The borders are brimming over with perennials split, planted and trans-planted last year in the optimistic times before I landed up in hospital.
My rewards this year are the crowded green borders not tricked up with the noisy colours of bedding plants. Instead I am enjoying the fulsome green energy of the perennials threaded through with rogue bluebells here and there. Someone once told me that if you live in on ancient woodland then when you leave it to go back to nature then bluebells will pop up everywhere. This seems to be the case here. Normally at this time of year far end of the bar the garden, down the bank -- the more consistently neglected part of the land - is dense with bluebells. But they rarely appear in the more attended to edges and borders. Not so this year. They are in every border, popping up like random commas on a scribbled page.
One challenge of all this growth is the brambles that run riot in the spaces that have been neglected. These are prickly, wily plants, weaving their way through all the borders - great sinewy snakes that shout danger from the side-lines. So, I’ve been looking out my leather gloves and secateurs to do battle with these invasive monsters. Unlike the bluebells they are not welcome here. You can see that I am now motivated to get out into the garden to try and control the brambles. So that is real progress for me.
But most important of all I have learnt again to sit in the garden with a cup of tea or a glass of wine in my hand enjoying the seventeen shades of green interspersed up by the occasional Canterbury Bell or the striving rose or the odd insistent Azalea
My good friend sitting here with me lifts her glass and says, ‘Let’s call it a woodland garden this year and celebrate its natural beauty.’
I’ll drink to that.
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. — Marcus Tullius Cicero
A special note for you: As well as tackling the brambles I have also been motivated to re-structure and relaunch my website, now called
There are significant changes. If you have a minute, take a look