Apples, bank notes and a garden at Bere Mill

Bere Mill in Hampshire has a rich history. And I use that adjective on purpose, because it was where the Huguenot family, the Portals, made the paper that was used for Bank of England bank notes in the early eighteenth century. There are still traces of the mill, and also importantly, apple trees. I hadn’t known before that the best wood for mill machinery was that of apple trees because it is both strong and flexible. Isn’t that wonderful?

L1100731

The current house was originally the home of Jane Deane, as this plaque still states on the side of the house.

bere jane deane

Over the last twenty years, Rupert and Elizabeth Nabarro have created a garden that feels both established and in progress. Something I’ve learnt from my garden visiting is harder than it seems.

L1100742
L1100746

I visited the garden at the end of last year so looking at my photographs to write this post is a bit like capturing history myself. However if I had forgotten the vividness of the borders…

L1100740

… the play of shadow and light in this garden – almost like music – has stayed with me. It’s as if the garden has taken on the watery element of the river and is making shapes that will transform themselves constantly.

L1100741
L1100757
L1100702
L1100696

Rupert has been very influenced by Japanese garden design and I really liked finding out more about this as we walked round.

L1100727

As he said, the river – once essential for paper milling – is key in the garden, and not just for its beauty. The river runs through the receptive house for harmony, and the fact that it comes in from the north-east, flows south, and then exits to the south-west – and with the valley sides giving the inverse horse shoe facing upstream – means it adds the needed feng shui blessing.

L1100729
L1100683

I was going to say I don’t know much about Japanese gardening, but in fact I know NOTHING about it, so I was pleased to find a little book from our second-hand bookshop and read that in the Nara period (646-795 AD) ‘not only rocks, water, trees, and plants, but even birds, animals and fishes formed part of the material that contributed to their composition.’ Look at these fish in the river at Bere Mill – aren’t they just like a painting?

bere fish

And this is a bad picture, but this sculpture by David Nash sits beautifully in the new orchard.

L1100713

I had to be dragged away from the Japanese teahouse (built by Australian sculptors, Paul Jamieson and Rohan Ward) because I’ve never seen such a perfect spot for daydreaming.

L1100762

See the view… can’t you just imagine writing at that table until the sun went down?

L1100764
L1100772

But enough. I don’t want to be too gushy in this post because this garden is mostly about daydreaming and silence. It is a private garden, but opened regularly through the National Gardens Scheme. The next opening day is 14th September. I can’t recommend it highly enough. And in the meantime, here’s a poem I wrote for the apple trees and banknotes…

L1100733

Scrumping
Sarah Salway

Imagine, my father always said
on our Sunday walks, less
an invitation than an instruction,

and because I was too young then
to know that nature’s ‘what if?’
would always trump ours:

the golden section; ants milking
grasshoppers; the bee queening
it over her own slave kingdom,

I loved his games – gold coins lying
under trees like windfalls, to have
a million pounds and spend it in a day.

I wish he’d lived long enough
to hear how Bank of England
notes were milled with apple wood.

How he would laugh. Imagine,
he’d say, money really does grow
on trees, and forever after, I could try

to catch him out lifting his wallet
to his face, trying to inhale a wealth
he only dreamt of, fortune’s wind

at last blowing its fruit his way,
a scrumper, my dad, to the end.

8 thoughts on “Apples, bank notes and a garden at Bere Mill

  1. This is lovely, Sarah – my kind of garden, and a wonderful poem that as ever brings new richness to my (virtual) visit. I’m serving myself small nuggets of pleasure from Digging up Paradise to make it last as long as possible and am really glad you’ll be providing more here!

    • So it was part of the construction AND material of milling – and you can eat the fruit. No wonder it was mythical. That’s really interesting. I keep thinking about Paris and his golden apples too.

  2. Loved the post Sarah. I saw paper being by in Kent as part of research and then went to Japan to study paper. In Japanese paper is called Kami.. It is also the word for spirit. So reflects the balance of the spiritual in your garden blog.

    • I’m so happy to know that, Cas. Thank you. I’d love to talk to you about paper one day. There’s an artist I met who makes paper embedded with seeds and we’ve been talking about a collaboration – planting poems!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s