26 Nov A new arrival…
So much is happening that I almost don’t know where to begin! We had a new arrival today, Pip Green. I’ve been dying to tell you about her, but haven’t dared in case she didn’t come.
About a week after I was offered this position, I was in a lovely little nursery at Darsham. The owner marries the concept of food and horticulture perfectly, running a nursery and potager garden with which he supplies the beautiful onsite restaurant. He is passionate and dedicated and moreover supplies Italian seeds (I knew Marco Novikov’s Italian Head Chef would approve!) Such was my excitement about finding this place, that before I knew it I was talking to the staff about the BE/Novikov restoration project and being shown around behind the scenes.
A bystander who suddenly became animated at the mention of a walled garden was Pip Green. Pip has lived and worked in some amazing gardens in America and France, and for various reasons had just arrived back in Suffolk and was looking for work. She said she was so enthused by the project that she would be my first volunteer. We exchanged details and kept in touch.
Another gardener Charlie was due to start on the same day as me. For personal reasons, Charlie couldn’t start. But then I remembered Pip. And the rest, as they say, is history.
We worked together with Adrian to clear the top polytunnel and then moved onto the fruit border near the chapel, pruning and pulling out nettles. Everything looked lighter and brighter and able to ‘breathe.’ I had just been musing on Cornish daffodils this morning on the way into work and was thinking that we should have some in the borders. Can you believe it, we found some daffodils just beginning to sprout, buried under the leaves in one of the very places I was thinking of planting them!
Another huge job was going on through all of this. Martin and his digger. He cleared many years’ worth of soil from our service path, so that now we have wonderful hard standing to drive down to the potting shed and potential workshop area. Then he made an area for our new polytunnel. BE is so incredible. Clearing the site he uncovered a brick wall made from Woolpit Brick. This brick, Martin tells me is not only local, but highly prized. To have Woolpit Brick was a form of status symbol and being harder than traditional red brick, was favoured. The bricks are no longer produced so we are really lucky to have some.
Adrian, Pip and I all agreed that Martin would win an award as a ‘digger dancer.’ He makes the work of driving a JCB look so effortless, that even we girls considered having a go, but given the proximity of the potting and tool sheds this may have been rather a danger to all concerned.
By evening Adrian had manually dug soil from the path by the old hall and Pip and I had cut a path through to one of the doors in the walled garden. Call me fanciful, but it all this clearing feels symbolic. We are finding new light in one of the darkest months. Isn’t that so often the way?
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — over and over announcing your place in the family of things.