Monday, 29 May 2017

Three gardens

Dear Monty,

This time of year the owners of garden businesses and the media are attacking our senses with shows and merchandise, and I end up suffering from overload and stress that I need more to my garden to justify even calling it a garden.

I can't help thinking that I have made a mistake by opening my garden - because it is just really a weedy green clearing a controlled wilderness with one or two flowery things, a dog, a couple of chickens and the occasional grandchild or two. Oh yes and lots of washing on the line.

I visited two 'proper' gardens last weekend, Dyffryn House Gardens near Cardiff, and an NGS opening of the Glanusk Estate Gardens near Crickhowell. They are both large gardens - landscapes really. Dyffryn in particular is made to be seen from the long vista in front of the house, and the grand scale gives a sense of awe, but seeing these places close up I realise that weeds and diseases are ubiquitous and not only that, they are present even in the grandest of gardens. So all in all I feel reassured even with my dead and frosted hydrangeas.

Dyffryn House

Dyffryn House


Who said gardening is relaxing and good for mental health ?

Coal Tip Cloister Garden


Tuesday, 23 May 2017


Todays news brings a mixture of sadness, deep sorrow and tiredness. How can such acts of violence ever bring peace or order ? I cannot understand it.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Conversation, punctuation, strata.


The sculpted figures by have a conversation on this May morning. This moment in the Coal Tip Cloister Garden with iridescent beetle, blackbirds and a pointy dog is close to perfection to me.
Fresh green in the morning light - it is best seen from the kitchen terrace - and from the pergola in evening light.

So we learnt on GW last night that you have been influenced by Penelope Hobhouse and by Italian gardens. I in turn have been influenced by Italian gardens and the great romantic garden of The Veddw in Monmouthshire. As I have discussed in one of my early letters to you I was also influenced by the long vistas of Versailles which seemed to stick in my formative brain - I had never seen such a garden before, my experience of gardens had been small back gardens, rockeries and municipal parks.

I suppose that is why I feel so privileged to have even this modest space - space enough to create an illusion of an Italianate cloister. This garden is not about individual plants - but about placement and punctuation. A narrative, a conversation.

We are open over the weekend of June 10th-11th with the NGS. Teas and a few cakey things will be available along with the opportunity to purchase some original artwork.

Come on Monty - have a cup of tea.


Monday, 1 May 2017


 Dear Monty,

Tracery in the early morning light

A network of breaking buds
Nature's reward.
A song thrush pierces the air
Soft green leaves cascade from the beech buds.

The blackbird sits motionless in its nest
Beak skywards

Humanity wakes and thunders in the distance.

These hills could be Judean hills
This garden the garden tomb
The light around the sculpted woman
An angel appearing to Mary.

But this is Ystalyfera
The voices of a garden speak louder than words.