Heart-drenching beauty

Heart-drenching beauty

From Nicolson’s superb book on Sissinghurst and his family’s relationship with it, including its transition to more public ownership.  He raises a wider concern, how to preserve beautiful places and buildings without losing their lived-in soul. While we...
Sitting pigeons

Sitting pigeons

You can see these pigeons plumply decorating the trees – we have wood pigeons who bill and coo in the branches, and indeed, they bring a soothing sense of fattened plenty with them. The pigeons were sitting in the trees like fattened Christmas...
Time-shrinking phrase

Time-shrinking phrase

A striking triologism for a phrase which arrests and compresses time, as indeed, Heaney’s does.  ‘… monsters that stalk the night, in Seamus Heaney’s time-shrinking phrase, ‘as a kind of dog-breath in the dark’. Source: Adam...
Over-qualified

Over-qualified

A simile for someone being over-qualified for a given task.  From Nicolson’s enchanting book about Sissinghurst.      It was like having the engineer on the Aswan dam supervise the building of your pond.  Why was he doing it?Source: Adam Nicolson, Sissinghurst:...
Sky-reflecting lake

Sky-reflecting lake

From a marvelous history of a garden, the idea of lakes made by man simply to reflect the sky. Would Capability Brown have been brought in to dam the Hammer Brook and make a sky-reflecting lake in the valley? Source: Adam Nicolson, Sissinghurst: An unfinished history...
Spider-thick world

Spider-thick world

Despite an occasional pathetic squeamishness, I protect insects and comfortably co-habit with spiders, and like the idea of this great old tree being thickly woven with them.  I also like the beadle-like pigeons strutting about, as if preoccupied with the maintenance...
Sweet-smelling stocks

Sweet-smelling stocks

The alliterative prelude to a verbal bouquet of flowers, perfume-fanning the colour bursts of alliums, foxgloves, poppies and columbines. Sarah had filled the house with flowers from the garden at our farm twelve miles away in Sussex: sweet-smelling stocks, the...
Buttercup-sprinkled grass

Buttercup-sprinkled grass

Buttercups have recently seeded themselves in our garden and I have learned what tenacious plants they are – their delicate sun-yellow petals belie a root-spreading system that is astoundingly vigorous.  Having helped them into a rose pot, I had to empty it to...
Purple-budded seedlings

Purple-budded seedlings

A description of alders which caught my eye.  It is winter here, and I am waiting for the first sign of seedlings. Every year, they throw out vigorous, purple-budded seedlings into the edges of the arable crops. Source: Adam Nicolson, Sissinghurst: An unfinished...
Sad-eyed pools

Sad-eyed pools

When earth is parched it often repels the water it needs, which just glances off the surface.  If rain persists, sooner or later that drought-hardened crust is softened and then the soil goes into soak mode, sponging up showers.  I liked Nicolson’s description...
Wind-blown apples

Wind-blown apples

Last year I ate about two such apples a day from our single, old, gnarled apple tree which had a bumper harvest.  That lasted me two months even while sharing the tree harvest with a number of birds. This poetic description of English meadows is from Nicolson’s...
Acorn-bearing boughs

Acorn-bearing boughs

This is the season of acorn crunching paths, after the boughs have released them.  A couple of times on my near-daily walk, I have filled my pockets with them and then surreptitiously dropped them in hopeful spots in the forest, to see if they may become grand oaks a...
Thick-pelted richness

Thick-pelted richness

Lovely notion, a frog-hopping place, cosy and dense with goodness, not to mention harbouring secrets.  See also this meadow’s durability. Frogmead, a damp and froggy place, along the banks of the meadow brook, a name redolent of everything a Wealden John Clare...

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