Thursday, 16 June 2022


 A few weeks ago we took the van up to north Wales, with a plan to tour Anglesey, which we did. We visited Bodnant gardens, and a few lesser known gems which I have to blog about separately as they were totally unexpected. One in particular had quite a story about it. All of them in Snowdonia. Anglesey was just beautiful, and in particular a beach that we slept on in the south west. For now though, a truly unique place, Gwydir Castle.

Not a castle in the usually understood way, but a home that has been a kind of fortress to all that have lived there. No photos of the inside are allowed, and that's fine by me. Some mystery and feeling can only be understood by actually being there. We were there when it opened, and were the only ones there. A tiny marker on our OS map gave a hint of somewhere to visit, and so we did, not knowing what to expect.

It was extraordinary. Being gardeners, we headed around the house itself, through a knot garden still waiting for the warmth of spring to bring it to life, but already Box hedging and the early signs of a simple infill of Alchemilla. Beautiful planting. Peacocks became very apparent. A long Aucuba hedge led us to the arch that brought us into the rear garden. Simplicity in itself. Very old Taxus, still being controlled to a shape consistent with the place that they lived in. Grass, simply controlled by high mowing. Water, always a must in any garden, personally speaking. Peacocks, watching and judging us as we dared to walk through THEIR space. They put up with us though, and afforded us the privilege of sharing some time with them.

The sense of peace in that garden, I cannot explain, and maybe it might have just been me, but I have been to many, many gardens in my life, and none have quite touched my soul as this one. Sometimes we need something simpler than Versaille. The owners are very lucky. We had the fleeting pleasure of meeting one of them, Judy Corbett, Both inside and outside the house. She was apparently on butterfly watch. They come inside the house, then seek the light of the windows and get stuck trying to get out. Judy was gathering them, very gently, one at a time, and carrying them to an outside shrub and painstakingly making sure they settled back into the outside. A special person. It's her in the first picture settling a butterfly into a shrub.

The story about this couple and how they ended up here, well, just Google it, or, and I recommend, get a copy of her book 'Castles In The Air'. 

It was a place that had us there at the weekend again, but stupidly we hadn't checked if it was open. And it wasn't.

We had two nights in Snowdonia, both of them spent here. Snowdon is the pointy one above the middle of the van. A magical place, with some magical souls turning up for the  night as well

Friday, 4 February 2022

An Ancient Connection

Here's a thought for you. My family know of my obsession with fungus, and the way in which Mycorrhizal fungus fills pretty much every inch of our soil, connect with one another, 'talk' with one another, connect entirely with trees and all plant life physically, and thereby allowing plants and trees to connect with one another. I did a post on plant connection and senses years ago. So, the facts and framework are set in the plant world, it's extraordinary.

A recent walk with a friend had me mention tree hugging. I felt that in the response was maybe disbelief, possibly subtle joking. I know what I have felt when tree hugging, and have heard from others of the strange feeling and connection they felt. Others have admitted that they just felt stupid. I have always believed in a real, physical and spiritual connection between animals and plants. Something quite fundamental.

More fact. Imagine if you will the fact that all animals, and we shall focus on humans for this one, have trillions of fungus on us, in us, bacteria within us have their own types of microscopic fungus. As a living being we are just like the plant life out there, A living communication system waiting to happen. Our senses, sixth, seventh, eighth, there may have been more, have not been lost, but dulled over hundreds of years until we don't need them anymore. Why would we?

Our bodies are still alive with fungus though believe it or not, and these will be connecting through their own micorrhizal network just like in the ground and plants.

See where I'm going yet?

When you hug a tree, hold a plant in a very real way. Truly hold them for a while and not in an edgy and temporary way, my theory is that we connect and actually, on a fundamental way connect through our network, to that of the plant itself. It feels us as we feel it. Why shouldn't it? Without sounding too gross, our fungus connects with the fungus in and on the plant, be it small or tree like, and that connection will also pass through the fungus in the ground to other plants. Hence the Avatar link to this whole thing.

I'm not a hippy, I'm a gardener who has just worked with plants all of his life.

Hug a tree, connect your bare arms and the palms of your hands to it, put your ear to it, talk to it. Make sure you are in a silent place if possible. Try to feel what it gives back to you. Open your senses to it.

Sounds daft, but most of that daft feeling comes from being ridiculed for wanting to do it in the first place from others. What is there to lose? A huge Beech tree is always my favourite.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Hot Chicken

Life for the moment seems to circle around mugs of hot chicken Oxo. I can't get enough of the stuff. Gone off coffee and tea. A strict diet has meant I basically cut out anything that brings pleasure or exhilaration.

But.....Chicken Oxo....give me a desert island, my wife for company on every level, and a trailer load of this, and, well yeah.....sorted.

Trying to enter a sort of semi-retirement. Amanda is out of the physical completely, but handling the paperwork. I'm 'dipping in' when needed. Daughter and son-in-law are holding the fort and progressing steadily forward. I try to do this blogging thing, but 'life' just seems to create a mental block every time. Stupid ###### business emails get in the way of getting my head into peaceful places. Just drafted a response to a company that is asking for OUR money, to provide them with OUR information, that another company is employing THEIR services for????

Yep, a bit irate and cranky, as this seems to be human nature at the moment. Maybe we need to start charging an agent for providing us with a potential customer?

Rant over. 

I have been enjoying a series of DVD's of Monty Don. French Gardens, Italian Gardens, Japanese Gardens, Special Gardens. I've always loved not just his work, but more importantly his soul. His hands tell the tale of a true gardener. He questions, he gets exhilarated, he ponders, and sometimes he is just quiet in his surroundings. I like to be challenged, in fact consider it vital for personal growth. I've never really been 'into' Japanese gardens of any sort, but his dvd made me question my thoughts and beliefs about what this diverse type of garden can give

French renaissance gardens....oh yeah....bring them on. Post renaissance such as Giverny....superb. Monet, Pissarro, Klimt, Renoir, all showed how a garden can feel.

Watching inspiring gardeners, with gardeners hands and minds talk and explore and feel challenged, feeds me as a gardener. Visiting places where gardens, either in their entirety, or just a captured piece in paintings feeds me. Reading books on everything from how fungus connects every form of plant life, to plants that kill or cure, or just a book of watercolour plates of flowers feeds me. Visiting gardens feeds me.

At a time in my life when people and paperwork are a serious problem, plants are still my 'go to'

It's hard to explain. Sleep under the stars in a forest for a night, don't hug, but hold a tree, walk into your garden and with a still mind just smell a hand full of soil. 

Again, the poem 'A Kiss of the Sun' rings true!

Rosa 'Peace'


Sunday, 19 December 2021

End Of Year

I don't really know where to start, or indeed what to say. It's been a long, long time since I last posted. 2021 has been a year that has, let's just say, taken it's toll, and a year that I will be glad to see the back of.

It's also been a year of good things happening. Re-connecting with old friends and family. Bex partner Matt joining the work team in March, and subsequently Four Seasons now being able to support two households. Improvements on the house happening.

Covid has blanketed life generally with a new way of existing, and one which I don't feel will go away. People have become polarised in the way that they deal with it. I have become more confrontational, angrier, more tired.

Customers have been extraordinary in their understanding of the pressures we have faced as a gardening team. Bex and Matt operating as an individual pair, and coping brilliantly with the new challenges to face. 

We both have had more free time to not just get out more, semi retire if you like, but to try to figure out how we now go forward into the next phase of our life. The campervan hasn't really progressed as we had hoped. Too much 'stuff' clobbering us this year. Must make some headway over the Christmas period so we can head out a bit more next year. The plan is to spend New Years night on Creech Hill under the stars. Plenty of blankets and hot chocolate needed for that one!

We've had lot's of beach and forest walks, where shells and sea glass have been collected in abundance, plant life and lichens pressed in my homemade industrial flower press. Pictures of our various projects to follow I expect.

Picture below is at one of our favourite spots, Craig Goch Dam in the Elan Valley. It's been home to us a few times this year. A real escape.

I'll try and do a Christmassy post soon, but for now please, all of you, have a beautiful and blessed Christmas.