29 September 2014
Clover and crane flies
One of the challenges of writing a weekly diary is that very
often little has changed from one week to the next and this
represents something of a quandary. Last week I had a busy previous
week for inspiration; we had one of our garden courses at
Allt-y-bela, a tour the next day and then the planting of the bulbs
began, I was spoilt for choice as to what to write about. This week
is a little different however, I'm still planting the bulbs I spoke
about last week and other than mowing the lawns and generally
keeping the garden looking tidy there really isn't much to
With that in mind, instead of talking about autumn, which would be the obvious choice given that it was the autumn equinox this week, I thought I might share something a little more personal.
Gardening often allows you great chunks of time in which it is just you and your immediate surroundings for company. The job you are undertaking becomes almost automatic and what you are left with is space and time to think and be. I believe this is one of the reasons that gardening can be such good therapy for those whose life has gotten on top of them.
One of the real joys I find comes from observing the life that exists around us largely unseen amidst our hurry to get on with the numberless chores that comprise our day. Birds, insects, creatures large and small and of course plants are all hustling at great pace through their days too, often locked into life and death struggles which can put a gardener's work into perspective.
Now, I don't want to give you the impression that I spend my
days hiding in a corner of the garden lying on my stomach watching
beetles and crane flies, as lovely as that would be! But when you
spend several days crawling around planting thousands of bulbs into
grassland you really can't fail to notice the stunning and often
bewildering diversity that exists within the confines of the
As an example to all of this; whilst I was planting Crocus 'Prince Claus' into the bulb lawn at the back of the house, it was the red clover that particularly caught my attention. The beauty of the blooms and the diversity of their colour, size and form was breathtaking. That, coupled with the various stages of flowering and going to seed, inspired me to write this diary entry, and to share with you the hidden world we take for granted.
I know that I'm very lucky to work in a gorgeous environment and also to have the kind of job that allows time for such thoughts, and that most people have neither luxury most of the time. I would encourage you however to set yourself the challenge of spending a little time observing nothing in particular in your own garden. If possible avoid big distracting blooms and look for a change in what appears to be the plain green background of the garden, maybe a native hedge, or some scrub land, or even a lawn. You will find plenty to interest you, and will probably come away with enough questions to keep you googling for some considerable time after!
Much of the beauty in a garden is found in its simplicity and natural elegance. All of this inspiration came from quiet observation of the natural world; if you are seeking inspiration head straight to the source, I guarantee you won't regret it!
Words: Steve Lannin, Gardener at Allt-y-bela
Photos: Britt Willoughby Dyer