A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself.
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 and to the garden to find restoration and a cure.
This years 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 two slender silver birch trees. These trees stand very tall and still when there is no wind. When the wind blows they bend and sway in a supple fashion their new leaves trembling on their fine branches. In a storm they are whipped to one side and the other. But they never break. They speak the language of the storm until it fades away and when they can stand still and graceful yet again. In the months when I spent some time looking out of the 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 can even sit outside and look around me at see and feel the garden - the trees, the shrubs, the plants and flowers.
Despite the fact of 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 perennial plants which were 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, 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 in the far end of te 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 that the brambles have run riot in the spaces that have been neglected. These are weedy, wily plants, weaving their way through all the borders - great prickly snakes which shout danger from the side-lines.
But, feeling better 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. Clearly I am now motivated to get out into the garden to try and control the brambles. So that is real progress.
But most important of all I have learnt again to sit in the garden, a cup of tea or a glass of wine in my hand, relishing the seventeen of green, interspersed up by the occasional Canterbury Bell or the striving rose or the insistent Azalea. I listen to the many songs of the birds and watch a neighbouring black, tan and white cat slink across my lawn.
My friend sits here with me. She lifts her glass and says, ‘Let’s call it a woodland
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