Tag Archives: gardening


Finally have my brain back after months of searching for it. About time….




Creep nettle.

Finger your way through hawthorn and fern,

reach beyond aged, cracked blackened roots.

Jut your bold-chinned youth

into the soft earth

and settle.

Claw down your tendrils and twist

soil beneath roots,

coil with bones and ashes and splintered pot and coal mines

and seeping cow piss

and leakage from the stream flood

into a labyrinthine sprawl.


I lifted fibrous forked out slice

steel cut against clay earth,

and slung into fire

a shaken head of ochre root hair.

And another and again

until the soil sank to soft crumb





Filed under gardens, poems, poetry, writing


It’s been a while…..

I’ve been busy gardening for a bloke in Greenwich who’s never there.

Been given carte blanche.

Been distracted from everything else.

It’s great spending other people’s money, especially on a creative project. Trouble is, I can’t see the garden from my kitchen window or walk on the grass in bare feet when the dew settles or smell the paeonies at dusk infusing the air with their slightly too sweet fragrance. I have to give it back….

It’s been hard work. I’ve wrestled with waist high grass and yanked out distorted quinces and untangled roses and found Jerusalem artichokes and the most glorious small blue flower which as yet remains unidentified. And the best thing? Stepping into a cool shower and feeling hot skin soothed.

Slim edge of desire,

a yearning for water.

Salt skin singed, hot and

rimmed with dry earth.

A face lifted to the cool

gasping shock,

spray spitting against the shower curtain.

Slide the soap, made cold from an open window,

against breast and throat.

A lava flow of greybrown grained

suds slips

from shoulders

to hip, thigh, shin.

Wash soil, spade, trowel from skin

flush tangled roots from pores

leave my garden, your garden, a perfect picture of glaucous blue.

Watch the foam gathering speed,


to pool brown between toes past

ankles white bleached with tapioca-ed nettle stings.

Taking a shower in mid afternoon

in not the cool sun of morning

but in the worked, earned buzz of afternoon heat.

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Nursing Home and Nice Roses

The Iceberg roses are beautiful this year.

My mother had a hedge of them in her garden: a mass of white billowy pompoms. I’ve got more than I probably should have in a tiny garden and the delphiniums have taken the brash hump and pushed their way through.

We took a huge bunch of roses to put in my great aunt’s room when she moved into the…

Nursing Home


We put her there when we couldn’t cope,

when she’d tired you to bone.

Not meaning to.


Three years she stayed with us,

snug in that arm chair where she could see you in the garden

and wave,

her hands arthritic gnarled, veins creeping proud violet.

She had her things:

silver hair brush, remote control, Woman’s Own, a box of toffee and

I sat and brushed her hair sometimes and brought her tea.

You heaved her unable body and cleaned her and smoothed on the cream that stopped

the red sores, acid-burned into her skin.


We should have cried at the hallucinations,

the loose-lipped rabid talking without pause,

but she spoke of your childhood:

shoo-ing the geese from the yard, high pitched,

talking gently to the cows

broom in hand, arms outstretched

asking me to close the gate behind them.


We didn’t like sending her away.

Even just for a weekend to your sister

so that you could

just breathe

and sit.


You paced in her empty room and nettled your conscience

and burned cigarette ends into your guilt.


But your colour came back

and your eyes widened to clearness.



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Still a Yellow Thing

My garden is a joy, a fizzing sherbet of yellow and acid green and I can’t post photographs because I’m in The North, visiting, and very far away from any kind of technology that would allow me to do so (I’ve cranked up the old pc and have made a coffee and scrubbed the kitchen while it very gently warmed up to lift off…). I planted Euphorbia amygdaloides Robbiae last autumn and have been waiting for its butterfly-bright flowers to open all winter. And they have: tall bracts of yellow-green flowers that remain steadfastly undiminished by pelting rain. The daffodils planted among them have bowed to the weight of Monday’s downpour but not the Euphorbia, it’s strong, upright, defiant.  There’s a metaphor in there somewhere…

The Chaenomeles nivalis has been in bloom for weeks now, if not months. Some flowers have only just burst, others have wilted and browned and become slippery-rotten. It’s been its best year yet and I’m waiting to see how many flowers hatch into small, hard, unprepossessing fruit. Edible and a fine addition to an apple pie but nothing compared to the truly magnificent, pendulous quinces with which I make jelly and which vanishes down the gullets of small children, spoon by quivering rosy spoon.

I travelled with the children on the West Coast main line yesterday along with several thousand other people who had also sharpened their elbows in preparation for the battle for a seat (reservations mean nothing). Conclusion: defibrilators ought to be compulsory kit in every carriage. There’s always an overly red puffing chap, hard bellied and broken veined trying to squeeze a suitcase the size of an elephant into the overhead gap. I fear for him…..

Having announced to the carriage my children’s predilection for throwing up on pendolinos (people flee…we get our seats) we headed north. From the window somewhere in Northamptonshire I saw a field of oilseed rape luminous yellow against a dark slategrey sky. The perfect unblended meeting of colour. Glorious.


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