I got last Saturday back. Well, I hadn’t lost it, but it had been scheduled in for an activity which got cancelled the Thursday before. Result.
First thought as always, I’ll go to the woods. The woods is my second home. I have an old oak I go and spend time with. I sit, drum, write, read and quite often just chill. Time often seems to take on a different reality there. The sun warms me, the breeze takes away my worries and concerns and I can put the world to rights there. For me at least. Giving my mind space there allows me to find answers to dilemmas. The birds and animals soon forget that I might be a threat if I sit still for long enough. That makes the woods a happy place.
I planned my day from waking until my wife came home. Anything can happen from that point.
And then I changed my mind.
There’s another happy place much closer to home. Another place that I don’t spend enough time in.
My own garden.
Dominating my garden is a large copper beach tree that provides magnificent backdrop. It gives shade in July and august when the sun is beating down. It has spectacular copper leaves that provide fantastic contrast to the may blossom on next doors hawthorn and sound superb as the wind makes them rustle. A fantastic comparison to the sound of the wind through next doors bamboo. I’m glad the bamboo is in next doors garden because it can dominate the ground it roots in. I smile.
Beneath the beach is a pond. A split level pond that allows you to paddle in its upper reaches cooling your feet in the heat of summer, before it cascades over the ledge into a wildlife pond below that has buttercups, mint and loosestrife as planting. The water is pumped back up to the upper level where it can be heard dropping back into the pool there. Soothing for the soul, especially with the breeze. You shiver, as if there really are fairies there, well real ones, as well as those in my wife’s fairy gardens. A supernatural shiver then, implying connection to our natural world. Again, a smile emerges.
There are various places to sit depending on the weather and the time of year. Sitting by the pond under the beach is warm in spring when the tree is still bare. If I want to sit in the sun, there are spots on the pergola around midday. If the sun is at it’s peak then I can go and sit in the Moroccan pergola down at the end, with its spiralling brick columns and trellis roof. Superb for breaking the heat from the sun without sitting in shade. There’s an Olive, a fuschia and a clematis amongst the red robin and the spindle. The chairs were an anniversary present from my wife’s mother. There’s also the BBQ there for a pleasant evening alfresco.
The main pergola, which is large enough to entertain eight people is behind my office. Walls and fences keep the cold east wind at bay and most of the north wind too. It also has a roof, clear obviously, over half of it so that we can sit out there when it’s raining and not get wet. There have been some electric and exciting evenings sat out there in thunderstorms.
Then there’s the planting. Plants full of scent for those still days, jasmine, honeysuckle and choisya to name a few. All wildlife friendly so that we encourage as many insects as possible, again lavender, hebes and buddleia are quick and easy examples. In fact, there’s something in flower almost all year. Mahonia in January, Viburnham in winter and hellebores in spring. Bizarrely, winter is easier for colour than august and September. I love watching bees as they collect pollen and nectar and revel in the life they exhibit, the fact that they manage to be the shape they are and so heavy and yet still fly. Or watch the sparrow and blue tit as they that utilise the nest boxes carefully nestled into trees. Occasionally squirrels will join us, they have a zest for life that few can match.
I am also aware that we have one of the few secluded gardens available these days. We can do as we like in it. A rare privilege.
A smile crosses my face as I remember that I designed this space to be the perfect, well maybe, place to let my worries blow away as I affirm my connection to this fantastic world and recharge my batteries, cleansing my mind from the ‘noise’ of our busy world. Slow my pace and the pace of my brain so that I can better appreciate and understand the thoughts that traverse my mind constantly and then put them to rest too.
This is also a place in which I dance, with and without a sword, there are passages to run and twirl and jump. If I wasn’t aware of what was around me before, the sword gives me that extra dimension because I wish to harm nothing in my motion. The more aware of what is around me the more connected I am to it. The more connected I am, the more human I feel. The more I heal!
Yes, my garden is one of my happy places.
A warrior knows how to fight demons on the outside as well as on the outside.
A warrior knows how to bring his (or her) mind to rest so that they can be of best service to themselves and those they love.
Is your garden one of your happy places?
Simon Pollard Urban Countryman May 23