Saturday, 21 March 2015

Thoughts whilst gardening

Below: a hint of May.  Wishing the verges looked like this today.  I would be burying my nose in the flowers.

The spring sunshine has lured me outside again today - it is a shame not to make the most of it, as the weather can be so fickle.  I have been tackling the hedge of Snowberry (very overgrown) which tops the bank and wall between the main garden and the drop down to the lower yard.  How short to cut it, I wondered, as if I get carried away we will have no privacy from passing cows!  Wound through the Snowberry are yards and yards of Bramble runners.  One long Blackberry runner was a "Brimble" in the Devonshire dialect (new to me book found this week - The Devonshire Dialect by Clement Marten, and signed by the author too).  There is a Devon surname "Brimacombe" and I wonder if that is a variation derived from someone who lived in a bramble-filled valley . . .  My thoughts wander whilst I am working and every time I cut brambles I think what a waste, in the olden days these would have been stripped of their thorns through stout leather gloves or a wooden gripper designed specially for this task, and then wound into baskets and bee-skeps.

There was a constant flutter of wild bird wings as I worked.  I was near the feeder in the eating apple tree and they were flitting from branch to branch, wondering if they dared land on the feeder and grab a seed or two.

A song kept playing through my head, one from the late 1960s - Peter Starstedt's "Where do you go to my lovely?  I don't know where that came from but I've just had to play it on Youtube - sad that I am I still remember all the words!

Then I thought of my dear friend A, who is very ill, and was told when diagnosed, that she must not garden any more because of the risk of mould spores causing a fatal infection.  To her that must have seemed like having her hands chopped off as she lived for her garden, and is a knowledgeable plantswoman, and far better than I could ever hope to be.  I garden like I cook usually - "bung-it" . . .

Then I was thinking of the book I am reading now, "Possession" by A S Byatt.  I can quite understand how academics get so immersed in a subject that they just live and breath it all day long, and look into the infinitesimal levels of it, as is happening in Byatt's book.  I am sure that some folk wouldn't hesitate to be totally devious and unscsrupulous in order to access a rare letter or document which they think could give them the edge on a book or piece of research they are undertaking.  I love the way she writes, and the sub-plots inside the novel (also evident in The Children's Book, the first novel of hers I read, and which I can thoroughly recommend).  I can remember going to a Conference on Insular Art after I had just completed my degree.  I was quite blown away by the microscopic detail a speaker had gone into whilst researching their topic - for instance how the goldsmith's dots on the terminal of a torc corresponded with a virtually identical technique on a totally different piece of work.  How would you notice unless you looked at just about every piece of goldwork found in that area, period in time, book, article etc.  But then, I had done the same when working on my Dissertation which subsequently was joint-winner of The Society of Antiquaries dissertation prize so I understand the blinkered intense research.

I hope this sunshine has spread a little across the country this weekend so we can all enjoy the great outdoors.


  1. Being outdoors - in the sunshine - is a complete bonus at this time of the year. Hopefully the Easter weekend will be lovely too. Jx

  2. I was even stripping off Jan! Down from five layers to just two!! Plus I sat out on the lounger and read some of my book whilst I had a cuppa. Bliss.

  3. Little or no sunshine here today BB but a lovely sunset which served to emphasise that they are burning the heather on the moors all round. Wis I could still garden - there is no better place for thinking. And yes, I think I rememer all the words to that song too.

  4. We walked up Walton hill. Hot and peeling off, reached the top, strong wind, coat back on again. It was like that for the whole walk, the shady bits were very cold, as were the exposed bits. I got my washing dry tho!
    I do feel for your friend, what a blow. I wonder how she will fill her life, her garden sounds like her passion and she will feel quite lost.

  5. Kath - sadly A has terminal cancer. She has just a few weeks left now, but I try to help make each time we meet special.

    I was glad when that cold wind dropped after lunch.

    Pat - we have been very fortunate here with sunshine and blue skies ALL WEEK! Gardening is lovely, but tiring.

    1. Ah yes, that was the friend you visited recently wasn't it, how very sad to watch a friend so ill.

  6. I too feel for your friend .. give her my heart felt wishes .. i send her a breath of a little Welsh garden .. must be dreadful not to be able to turn the soil over in your hands.
    On a lighter note ..I once had a go at making baskets from brambles and vines and whatnot .. bit of a palavar .. but the baskets were lovely .. lots of different colour and textures.

    Vicky x

  7. Thanks Vicky. I take A flowers every time I go, a little pot of this or that, and then some silk flowers recently so she doesn't have to tend them as she was really unwell. I may give the bramble basket a go. I was ripping out long lengths of ivy too, and that was also a possibility . . .

    Kath - yes, that's the friend. She is such a lovely lady. I keep thinking to myself, I shall have to tell her bees when she passes . . .

  8. We are being spoiled with the weather lovely sunshine making everything grow, I am heading out today with shears to cut down brambles that seem to be growing a mile a day :-)

  9. My husband uses a slasher for ours, but I use secateurs and hve been cutting down to the ground. Not sure which works best. Did you find the shears tiring on your wrists after a while?