11 Nov ARMISTICE DAY
A reflective start to the day. Chilly and evocative. The trees are dropping their leaves in earnest now and the bare bones, like beautiful sculptures are revealed. Once these leaves have fallen the stately redwoods and yews will really show themselves. Touching to think that most of these trees were planted before the First World War.
The atmosphere here was particularly poignant today as Brent Eleigh was used as a hospital during the Second World War. This led us to wonder what life would have been like for those recovering here and if they ever ventured into the walled garden as part of their recovery programme.
One thing is for certain, there must have been less gardeners returning. Tony recounted the tale of Clarence who was the Head Gardener at the time. He joined the Desert Rats and was away from the garden for five years. At the back of mind was one of my favourite poems by Margaret Atwood entitled ‘The Moment’
The moment when after many years/of hard work and a long voyage/you stand in the centre of your room/house, half acre, square mile, island, country/knowing at last how you got there/ and say I own this, Is the same moment when the trees unloose/their soft arms from around you/the birds take back their language/the cliffs fissure and collapse/the sir moves back from you like a wave/and you can’t breathe. No, they whisper. You own nothing./You were a visitor, time after time/climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming/We never belonged to you./You never found us./It was always the other way round.
I’m certain that this last line is true. A landscape as stunning as Brent Eleigh has a way of finding the right people. It is never the other way around.
In his usual moth like fashion, Tony moved about the garden quietly doing the jobs he has done here for thirty five years. Today he was pruning and tying in pears and peaches…
Tony’s knowledge and love of this place are evident. He knows the microclimate of every inch of the garden and is a mine of information. I could listen to him for hours. Usually I carry a book everywhere but when Tony’s around why bother? He is a speaking book.
Lots of manure was still in a heap and we worried that rain might come in tonight, so Adrian and I got to work and soon we were laughing and a lot warmer!
Another fantastic day.