It was Cicero who said that if you have a garden and a library you want for nothing, and I’m proud to have an essay in the RHS The Garden magazine about why gardeners should read poetry.
It was a joy to share lines of some of my favourite poems in the essay, and if you have come here from the magazine wanting to read more, here are links to find more:
The Trees, Philip Larkin
Alice Oswald, Mother of Thousands, from Weeds and Wild Flowers
Marge Piercy, Attack of the Squash People
Louis MacNeice, The Sunlight on the Garden
Esther Morgan, The Long Holidays
John Updike, September
If this encourages to write your own poem, here’s a creative writing exercise for you, I’d love to see any results if you wanted to post them here…
Take your notebook and pen into the garden and set your timer for ten minutes. Record all you can see, hear, taste, feel, smell during this time. However tempted, don’t turn this into a ‘to-do’ list of jobs you notice, but let yourself stay aware of all your senses. Do this as often as you want to, but even f you make sure you do this at least four times a year – spring, summer, autumn, winter – you are engaging with your garden in a new way. When we are not being so deliberately mindful, too often we privilege our sight so I guarantee you will find something in your notes, both as you write them and when you look back after, that surprises you.
And in the article, I mention the wonderful Lost Words book by Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane. I’d also like to direct you to my recent TEDx talk which concentrates on the everyday words we use.
a blackbird’s made its nest
in the hawthorn tree,
and breaking as I write,
seedlings planted a month ago
are bursting forth, teasing
us with their rainbow hints,
but if you rub
between finger and thumb
you can smell summer
already; a baby is kicking
in response at the clouds
rolling over her like a news tape
filled with sun-bites,
while over by the swings,
leads an uprising
of blood red against the privet,
tulips and bluebells form a late coalition,
and even the grass strengthens its position
near where this morning, at five past eleven
dizzy with dandelion flowers
the cat let a pigeon fly free.
Only the plane tree, obedient
to the season follows the prompts
while propped up against the wall
already warming itself for glory,
the first rosebud waits for her cue.