Tuesday 23 March 2021

+Now is life very solid, or very shifting? I am haunted by the two contradictions

 ...this has gone on forever: will last for ever;

goes down to the bottom of the world - - this moment I stand on.

Also it is transitory, flying, diaphanous.

I shall pass like a cloud on the waves.

Virginia Wolf  4th January1929

On the anniversary of Lockdown, for the sake of one's sanity, it is time to look forward, rather than back. The gate into Pablo's Garden is open once again ...

Sunday 26 May 2019

Sign of hope

With reference to the previous 'snowy' blog, I discovered, amongst my drafts, the following text and images, written well over a year ago, after a visit to Egglestone Hall  Gardens and thought it was a pity to waste it...

Just before the snow arrived last week, I paid my annual visit to the tiny abandoned churchyard in the grounds of the wonderful Egglestone Hall Gardens to view the snowdrops. There are other places nearby that also have wonderful snowdrops but Egglestone Hall's churchyard is somewhere extra special  with its own particular ambience.

Abandoned churchyard at Egglestone Hall

It always feels as if there's a story there just waiting to be told. (Wendy please note!)

One almost expects to see a figure rise up from behind one of the ancient gravestones - probably a cliched lady in a long grey dress and bonnet  (must stop reading the Brontes). She'd be clutching a tiny posy of snowdrops, just picked from one of the graves...

Snowdrops nestling in the shelter of a grave

Blossoms and dewdrops at the bent spray's edge

Hark, where my blossom'd pear tree in the hedge
Leans to the fields and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops at the bent spray's edge

Robert Browning wrote nostalgically in his Home thoughts from abroad about the month of May.
I was reminded of the poem when, after a particularly windy morning, the large, elderly pear tree
opposite the kitchen window had 'snowed' all along the path leading to Pablo's Garden.

It was a magical sight on a sunny May morning.

Sunday 4 March 2018

A view from the kitchen window

Despite the weather, spring is definitely on the way!

It must have been late September 2017, after watching an episode of Gardener's World in which Monty Don planted up a small window box, that I decided to do my own, using his planting as inspiration. I planted trailing variegated ivy and two deep pink cyclamen which have flowered continuously. It has been a delight to open the kitchen blinds each morning.

A view from the kitchen window

The cyclamen have just about gone over now but imagine my delight when I opened the blinds last week to find that the tiny iris reticulata Katherine Hodgson that I'd popped into  the bottom of the window box had decided to pay me a visit.

Katherine Hodgson

I planted up a second window box for my friend Vivian's special birthday and, when I called last week, glorious tiny, yellow iris reticuta were about to poke through. Neither of these window boxes cost very much in monetary terms, but the pleasure they have given and continue to give is priceless.

Monday 5 February 2018

Life in the garden

The two central activities in my life -
alongside writing -
have been reading and gardening.                 
                                       Penelope Lively         

Life in the Garden is the title of the book by Booker prize-winning author, Penelope Lively.
She has long been a hero of mine (or 'shero' as the late lamented Julia Darling would have said) and,
as I am reading this memoir of her own life in gardens, I am  reminded of the many and glorious gardens that I have visited over the last 40 years or so.

Penelope's book covers not only her own personal gardens but it is an exploration of gardens in literature which is also a hobby of mine. I love reading novels in which gardens and plants play a major role.

As well as children's  books - Tom's Midnight Garden, The Secret Garden, Alice in Wonderland etc  - there are many enjoyable and  inspirational novels in which the sense of place is most skilfully evoked by reference to gardens - too many indeed to list here - but I must highlight books by two  novelist friends of mine, Honesty's Daughter by Wendy Robertson and The Orchid House by Avril Joy. If you enjoy gardens in literature why not give them a try, especially as the weather dictates that armchair gardening is the preferred exercise this February?

Happy Reading!

Monday 15 January 2018


The past only comes back when the present runs so smoothly
that it is like the sliding surface of a deep river.
Then one sees through the surface to the depths.
In those moments I find one of my greatest satisfactions,
not that I am thinking of the past;
but that it is then that I am living most in fully in the present.
                                                             Virginia Woolf

Frost on the winter garden

Christmas at Kew Gardens

I knew virtually nothing about gardening when we moved here from our nearby town house simply because we had no garden to speak of there. It was interesting, therefore, to open the notebook and read what was written - in the beginning it was mostly lists of plants that I'd identified as already growing in the garden.

(I remember really enjoying this detective-like adventure, spending hours searching through masses of garden books borrowed, of course, from Durham County's libraries, and began to empathise with how the early plant hunters must have felt).

Fatsia Japonica in flower

As I became more confident, the notebook  began to list plants I wanted to grow and seeds I planned to sow (many of which subsequently failed or died). It also included basic diagrams showing where perennials  were to be planted and it has been interesting recalling some of the planting of the initial layouts, making me realise just how much the garden planting has changed over the years.

What has been most interesting, however, has been recalling the many people, most of them no longer with us, who gave me many of the plants which are still thriving in this garden as I write and whose generosity ensures that their presence will live on as long as I continue to garden here in Pablo's garden - testimony also to the generosity of the true gardener who is always ready to share both plants and knowledge with others, a generosity for which I will also be grateful.

Some tinge of melancholy

Lovely as these autumn days on the heath;
the gorse is still as smooth as silk,
and the air fragrant.
...as though there were some tinge of melancholy
in its sweetness.
                                             Virginia Woolf

September border