Last week, we explored gardens. I brought in sprigs of sage, rosemary and lavender; hazel catkins, twigs with willow buds, a fir tree branch snapped off by the snow in the park, bamboo, holly and pots of bulbs which are now starting to bloom on my window sill. Patients felt the textures of the plants – the sage was velvety, like a baby rabbit’s ear, and the catkins were like caterpillars. We smelled the fresh rosemary and the ghost of last year’s lavender. We asked each other questions pulled out of a flowerpot, and looked at pictures of gardens to find our favourites.
A Garden Conversation
Hazel Catkins – lamb’s tails shake,
Velvety buds of pussy willow
Last year’s lavender smells sweet
Flowers sewn into little sacks
To keep the wardrobe fresh.
At school, budding twigs in vases
Collecting armfuls of bluebells
Climbing up trees in the woods
Coming home from adventures.
Our budgie Henry flew around the yard
Blue and green feathers – he said “hello –
What do you think you’re doing?”
To the robins and house sparrows.
There’s a heron that sits on the fence,
Looking at our neighbour’s pond.
He looks enormous, with his tall legs
And long, sharp, fish-catching beak.
Salt gets rid of slugs; a sharp steel pole
Get them drunk in a beer trap
Wait until they gather in the damp
Under half a grapefruit, then
Chuck them in next door’s garden.
The ideal garden
Lots of nice smells,
A nice scenic view,
Pretty pink Flowers,
Moss growing on the shed roof.
Butterflies and bees on buddleia,
A pond with frogs,
Lily pads; a peaceful stream.
A table and two chairs.
Spring flowers; bluebells,
A wheelbarrow, old sinks and chimney pots
Full of blooms.
A bench to sit on
A bird house.
The frost looks beautiful on tree branches,
But the first signs of spring are coming.
Snowdrops and crocuses;
Daffodils pushing through the earth
Catkins like caterpillars.
Magnolia in bud.
A scent of pine needles.
The robin digs the ground.
Nuthatches and tree-creepers on the bird table.
Chaffinches eat from your hand.
The magpie and the colourful jay scold;
House sparrows and bluetits squabble
Badgers eat scraps in the garden
Muntjack deer peep through from the woods
Squirrels steal from the bird table.
White roses against a background of green
Delphiniums, lupins and bleeding hearts
Topiary – faces and number.
Somewhere to sit in the summer
Down a winding garden path.
Tea and scones on the lawn.
Lots of bright colours in mid-summer
Butterflies love the sedum in September
Bees get drunk on it.
The Winter Garden
The garden looks good all year round,
When it’s neat and tidy.
In the winter, icicles form:
Frost on the leaves.
The birds are hungry:
The thrushes, robins, blackbirds
Feed on strings of nuts and fat balls.
Cheeky squirrels steal it all.
We look forward to the time of
Butterflies, and drowsy, buzzing bees.
Clay Cross Day Centre’s Perfect Garden
I brought the gardens theme to the Clay Cross day centre for a special Dales Tales session. They are about to move to a new centre, so this session had a more practical purpose – to plan what the day centre users actually want in their brand-new garden. The Day Centre is also getting an allotment where people using the day centre will be able to grow vegetables. It all sounds very exciting, and I look forward to visiting the centre again when everything is up and running.
A garden shopping list
Herbs and onions
Barbecues with hotdogs
A greenhouse to grow tomatoes.
A wild meadow for butterflies
Buddleia and lots of flowers
In pink, lemon, blue, red:
A cottage-garden mixture of colour.
Annuals and bedding plants.
Roses, hollyhocks, lupins.
Containers and raised beds,
Drystone walls. A compost heap.
A rockery with bulbs planted:
Snowdrops, crocuses and daffs.
Plants with different heights.
Colour all through the year.
Fuchsias in containers.
Paths, leading to a comfy seat.
Shade from the hot sun.
A small pond for frogs and nature;
Water feature: a big round pebble
Bird tables and an insect hotel
A cherry tree and a silver birch.