The June edition of the RHS’s ‘The Garden’ journal included a thought provoking essay advocating that gardeners should ‘read (and write) more poetry’. The author Sarah Salway contributed this interesting piece – I’m not intending to review it here (suffice to say it’s well worth reading), my purpose in referring to it is that it included signposts to Sarah’s website, ‘Writer in the Garden’ and a creative writing exercise to try.
After reading the instructions, I put the timer on my phone and spent 10 minutes with a note pad and pencil firstly just sitting and listening and then quietly strolling barefoot around the garden whilst taking notes about what I could hear, see, feel and smell (I neglected taste). Sarah is quite right, very often you’re looking for jobs when surveying the garden – doing this exercise makes you aware of things you may not previously have noticed, I now know where the blackbirds I hear and see have been living!
The ten minutes flew by – to be honest I was really enjoying the dedicated time spent just taking my surroundings in. I’ve some interesting descriptive notes and I may even try to write a poem from them (although I would be far too self conscious to put it on this blog!) My notes also revealed (as Sarah guaranteed) some surprises, the most striking being how often I mentioned the effect of the breeze on all senses but taste: from the sound of rustling leaves, the feel of it drifting over my bare arms, the wafting of rose scent each time it grew in strength, to the sight of swaying grasses and a dierama as it danced through them.
I know I wasn’t supposed to be looking for trouble, but a previously unnoticed crop of willow herb growing at the edge of the pond caught my eye and I made a mental note to get it out later!
Then there was a potentilla I planted last year and had forgotten about – swamped by a rampant hardy geranium and just trying to make it’s way into the sunlight onto the lawn – will need moving!
Sarah believes that planning and planting a garden has to be one of the biggest acts of the creative imagination – it isn’t just about practicalities. I totally agree with this viewpoint; looking at a beautiful garden and its constituent parts for me is as sensually evocative as looking at a beautiful painting, listening to a favourite piece of music or reading a great story. The message has to be that we should all remember to stop and take in our gardens from time to time – so often I dwell on the doing!
The exercise really got me thinking about why I write this blog. The answer is simple – I have three hobbies – gardening, photography and writing – need I say more?