When All at Once I Saw a Crowd

In honour of the first {official} day of spring and Mother’s Day {UK} I give to you a Host of Golden Daffodils…

20140330_130638

Providing conclusive proof that I am a better Gardener than Florist!

Advertisements

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”
― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Hanging on a rusty old pole at the foot of the Secret Stairway are battered bamboo wind chimes that I bought many decades ago. One of the chimes is missing, long since wrenched off in a storm.

??????????

The clapper is also missing, replaced by a handmade trowel created by one of my children in school metal work class many years ago.

??????????

Even indoors I can hear their chime like a mindfulness bell calling my attention to the present and reminding me of my own version of the Zen koan ‘what is the sound of one hand clapping?’ Sitting in my very first garden one summers day a gentle breeze sprang up and rustled through the willow tree and I wondered ‘what does the wind sound like where there are no trees?

bluebell buddha

I’m still wondering yet.

The Bee Village

bible

Walking the dog a couple of days ago the first chubby wee bee of spring buzzed busily by taking me with it back through the decades to the days of my childhood. Visiting older relatives can so very often be tedious for young children but visiting my great-aunt and uncle was never so. Uncle Adam was the gardener on a large country estate in the rural heart of Fife and they lived in a wee cottage set against the wall of the large walled garden that he tended with love and care. With acres of grounds to explore I would wander freely for hours only returning to the cottage when hunger called me back to tuck into one of Aunty Molly’s delicious home-baked scones.

One day, discovering a small grassy embankment topped by a large hedge, I followed the path to a set of steps leading up to a gate in the hedge. With the curiosity of childhood I stepped through the gateway and was instantly surrounded by cloud of bees. Standing very still I allowed them to inspect me until, satisfied that I posed no threat, they went about their business. Filling the large square within the high hedge, much to my amazement, were rows and rows of wooden hives.

apiary

I wandered amongst them in wonder for a while then walking slowly back down the steps I turned the corner and ran all the way back to the cottage. Bursting in on the grown ups chatting over tea and scones with eyes shinning brightly I breathlessly exclaimed ‘I’ve found a bee village!

With a quiet smile my uncle pulled on his boots and holding hands I skipped with excitement by his side all the way back to the apiary {for that is what it was} as he explained to me all about the Importance Of Bees. This time as we stepped through the gateway in the hedge the bees paid us no attention at all, not even when {without the need for smoke or hats as they knew and trusted him and by now I had been properly introduced*} he lifted the lid off a hive taking it apart to let me see for myself the secret of honey. We gathered a comb of honey before carefully putting the hive back together and thanking the bees returned to the cottage.

Dismayed when I heard of the recent decline of the honey bees I do what I can {and it is very easy to do} in the Secret Garden to support these extraordinary creatures and who knows perhaps one day I may even be lucky enough to have a hive of my own.

Special issue stamps from Ukraine where bee keeping is a major economic activity.

Special issue stamps from Ukraine where bee keeping is a major economic activity.

All pictures were pinched from Pinterest…many thanks to the many Pinners

*Telling the Bees

According to Scottish folklore if you want to know what the Druids know ask the bees because the bees know everything. Also it is very important to tell the bees of any event within the family {births marriages and deaths} and in the event of the death of their master they must be invited to the funeral otherwise they will leave the hive and never return.

telling

Pots of Inspiration

thistle pot

Pots come in all shapes and sizes, most are mass produced and I would {and do} happily smash brand new pots to use as drainage without qualm. But not all pots are created equal and my favourite garden pots of all are handmade using traditional methods at a local pottery which also happens to boast one of the most beautiful and inspirational courtyard gardens I have had the pleasure of visiting. Hidden behind it’s own stone wall it could also have been a secret garden except for the large, bright signs pointing the way…

pottery1

Stepping through the gate and down a handful of ancient stone steps the courtyard is revealed in all its glory and splendour…

pottery courtyard

Old wooden chairs and benches scattered around the courtyard invite visitors to stay awhile to enjoy the garden…

potterymother

Or the company of a cat…

pottery cat

Cool fountains soothe the soul of the weary…

potteryfountain

And between the blooms piles of pottery and ceramics combine to create a perfect display of the craft of pottery and the art of gardening

pottery pink

As the days grow longer and brighter I’m already looking forward to my next visit and if you ever find yourself in the area I recommend that you visit too. You’ll be glad you did.

A Trio of Trees

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

Greek Proverb

My first garden was small and dark, north facing and overshadowed by an apartment block it was always damp and so I planted a miniature willow. It matured into a thing of beauty but sadly I had to leave it behind when I moved.

??????????

However I did bring this little bay tree with me to the Secret Garden from my old allotment and I think it looks very happy in a fat little pot in this sunny corner at the foot of the stairs.

??????????

I also brought with me my plum-tree which has temporarily been potted into a container until I manage to clear a space in the garden to plant it properly. The pot it’s in is large enough to contain it for at least a year and positioned as it is against a sunny wall should make it very happy.

But my favourite tree of all {though it’s fair to say the removal men weren’t so fond of it} is my corkscrew hazel.

??????????

The branches form a living sculpture and even in the depths of winter the shadows cast by its gnarled branches add interest and depth to the garden, seen here against the garden wall and the plum-tree pot…

??????????

and here against the potting bench* {before the plum-tree was transplanted}

herbs

And nestled at the base of the trunk is a delightful fairy door handmade for me by my wonderfully talented friend Val…

??????????

They say that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago…the second best time is now. So what are you waiting for?

*a rather fancy term for an old pine chest of drawers that I spray pained gold and added cut glass handles too which I now use for storing all sorts of gardening gibbles