Snowdrops in Brent Eleigh Garden



The tone of the sky this evening. Look how light it still was at 5pm! Impressive the way the plum, beech and conifer appear to surround the emerging moon…

Isn’t it supposed to be ‘Blue Monday’ today? I felt it in my bones yesterday afternoon, but today was different. I faced the accounts first thing and guess what? Everything balanced! Such was my complete joy that I was literally punching the air.

I’m currently reading John Bird (Founder of The Big Issue) ‘The 10 Keys to Success’ and he discusses one of his proudest moments as being when he finally began to understand the budgets because for him, they were the hardest part of the operation. Ditto for me. John likens anything very difficult that you have to do to achieve your overall mission to a heavy door. Your only way in is with a sledgehammer, so you must repeatedly hit the door until you get in. There is no way around it. When the door finally gives way, it’s not thanks to your final blow, it was all those blows before hand where you thought you were making no progress at all – and this is where so many give up.


Martin levels the ground of the plot designated for the brand new polytunnel.

It certainly takes a lot of vision to see beyond all the mud at the moment. But we all have it in spade-loads, well, that and blind determination. Martin and Adrian did a sterling job of preparing the space for the new poly-tunnel. Just to give you an idea of when my boys start – Martin was already collecting the digger at 7am and by 7.30am when the porta loo person called (already having arrived at BE) Adrian (who has a good half an hour commute) was already there to meet him.

It was much warmer today so in the glasshouse, while watering I could imagine spring was already here. I’m a great fan of the cloud setting on the sprinkler. It produces this jungle-like gentle humidity, perfect for our babies.

I’m happy this evening because – OK the conditions were not perfect – but I managed to get out on the soil and do a good afternoon of soil preparation (otherwise known as weeding and digging!) The ground has been too frozen lately and I’m so aware of time marching on and not getting this lovely soil turned. It needs to be offered up to the ice and snow to break it down into the fine tilth I’m after. Later in the week the forecast is for more snow and a prolonged cold spell, so I want to get what I can done now.

The snowdrops here at BE are now well underway. Seeing them brings so much fresh hope. This time last year I was in India, so I missed the utter chill of England’s winter and funnily enough, I dreamt of snowdrops. One of the first thing’s I did after getting off the plane was to attend my local writing group and there I wrote a poem entitled ‘Snowdrop.’ Despite severe jetlag I read it to the group and one chap, John (who usually struggled with my work) totally loved it. ‘Finally!’ he laughed, clapping his hands, ‘you’ve written a proper poem which rhymes!’ Indeed John liked it so much that he asked for a printed copy. The next week I came with a printed copy especially for him. Looking around the table I was disappointed he wasn’t there.

Everyone thought I already knew. John had been killed two days earlier in a car crash on the roundabout outside.


Our BE snowdrops…



When the plane door opened

the smell of air so sweet,

I could see children's sheets

billowing white on a washing line.

I can tell before I reach Suffolk

(in this Gatwick night)

that spring's secret has risen,

since I was away.

In the dust of India

I picked

bunches of shells from tired sand and dreamed

of the cut glass, bone china-ness

of the bravest flower I know.

Passing rice fields

irrigated with tired water

from the polluted river

I imagined the easy green of linear leaves;

that sudden internal leap of discovery,

shocking as the first lamb.

Later, when first light split open England's dark

rain came,

gentle as a mothers' hand

and although it was only four degrees,

I threw open the kitchen window and listened to

the kiss, kiss

of newly hallowed ground.

In the garden

snowdrops haloed around and around.

Merriel, for John

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