A Festival in ‘our’ Garden – The Wealden Literary Festival

Get creative and win tickets to the first Wealden Literary Festival


Kent photographers and writers of all ages are invited to share their images and words about the places in the county they find inspirational in a competition being organised as part of the first Wealden Literary Festival.

The festival, at Boldshaves Gardens, Woodchurch, Tenterden, near Ashford, on June 18 and 19, is a celebration of nature, landscape and place featuring talks by nationally acclaimed writers.

The gardens will be filled throughout the weekend with opportunities to enjoy artisanal foods, take part in outdoor activities, including free children’s events, wildlife safaris, nature walks and even a creative writing workshop.

Authors taking part include: Charles Foster, writer of the ground-breaking new book Being A Beast; James Macdonald Lockhart whose inspiring book, Raptor, captures journeys across the British Isles in search of birds of prey; and Phillip Hoare, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction.

TV Time Team’s expert Francis Pryor will also be there together with leading bumblebee scientist and enthusiast Dave Goulson and Patrick Barkham whose book, Coastlines: The Story of our Shore, features Kent in an exploration of how we as an island nation are shaped by our shores.

The free-to-enter competition has four sections – Photography (digital) and Writing, 15 years and over, and Photography (digital) and Writing, 14 years and under.

Winners of the over-15 years’ sections will each receive weekend passes to the festival including all Garden Tent talks. Younger winners will be presented with a special commemorative festival prize specially created by Rye Pottery.

The winning entries will be published in the festival programme and will be posted, with other selected entries, on the festival website.

Entrants to the Wealden Literary Festival competition are free to focus on the places and landscapes that enchant them, the wildlife that inhabits those places and the many small details and hidden treasures in the county’s natural world that they find inspiring.

Writers are invited to submit 500 words, or fewer, in prose, poetry or nature journal entry, as a Word document. Photographers should submit jpeg files of between 500Kb and 1.5Mb.

All entries should state the section entered and the name/location of the inspiring place, as well as the entrant’s full name, address and contact details – telephone and/or email. Entries, only one per person per category, should be emailed to info@wealdenliteraryfestival.co.uk before midnight on, Friday, 20 May.

The winners will be announced on the festival website on Monday, 30 May.

For further information about the Wealden Literary Festival Photography and Writing competition, go to www.wealdenliteraryfestival.co.uk/programme.

Tulips and Tortoises



It’s joyful tulip time, tumbling over each other as they draw every little bit of attention in the room to themselves and no wonder they do what they want. These are the kings of spring flowers, and once they would have sucked up a bank balance as easily as they drink every drop of water in the vase. Here’s an account of a tulip party I would have so dearly liked to have been at:

Music filled the grounds where the Sultan’s five wives took air. One of the courtyards of the Grand Seraglio was turned into an open-air theatre; thousands of tulip flowers were mounted on pyramids and towers, with lanterns and cages of singing birds hung between them. Tulips filled the flower beds, each variety marked with a label of filigree silver. At the signal from a cannon, the doors of the harem were opened and the Sultan’s mistresses were led out into the garden by eunuchs carrying torches. Guests had to dress in clothes that matched the tulips (and avoid setting themselves on fire by brushing against candles carried on the backs of hundreds of tortoises that ambled round the grounds).

And here’s a beautiful poem by A E Stallings (click on the link below to read it all). I love it when poetry makes you look again, because tulips do faint, rather than wilt! :

The tulips make me want to paint, / Something about the way they drop / Their petals on the tabletop / And do not wilt so much as faint,

Source: Tulips by A. E. Stallings : Poetry Magazine