Friday, 2 August 2013

What Price the Perfect Getaway?

It's blowing a gale out here on the edge of the world today.
My poor trees, heavy in their summer frocks, are being whipped back and forth. It's not fair.
But then, as we all know, life isn't fair.

Mercifully the promised rain has not yet arrived. I've got soaked most days this week, trying to garden in the rain, so today's wind, blowing warmly - if rather too enthusiastically - from the south wasn't going to put me off. However, it seemed only sensible to do a job out of the teeth of the gale, so I headed into the flower garden which is generally fairly sheltered and found to my delight that not a leaf was stirring in my new little moon garden.

The little moon garden

There was plenty to do. The weeds and grass have encroached into the semi-circular bed, and lots of early summer perennials needed a good cutting back. I was soon wading through dense knee-high greenery, and thought as I often do, of my ex-sister-in-law's words many years ago.
'At least there aren't any snakes in Ireland.'
She and my brother were living in Africa at the time, their children still quite small, and I'd been apologising for the wet August weather that attended their visit to us, along with its consequent lush growth overflowing the garden paths. It was like a jungle, but the kids loved it, and no one minded the rain either. 'It never rains in Africa,' they said.

Today it didn't rain either, but the ground was still soft from the wet week we've had, and the weeds in the new bed came out easily, so that within moments of starting work, my mind had wandered off onto lots of other things. The dogs rummaged through their ossuary while I sat on the little bench drinking a cuppa and contemplating my newest patch - barely a year old, yet already ripe with flowers and growth. I found it hard to visualise how that small area used to be - a wilderness of overgrown fuchsia and bamboo - even though we'd lived with it for donkey's years.

It's now a place of seclusion and peace - even on a day of stormy southern winds. And the little seat that the In-Charge made by recycling two old bench ends and some lengths of teak he had stashed away in his workshop, fits as if it had been made to measure.
Not many weeks ago we made the happy discovery that it is the perfect place to catch the very last rays of sunshine when the mid-summer days are so long, the sun practically sets in the north.
Our very own little getaway.

Hard at work in the moon garden - so called for its half moon path

Everyone needs a getaway. Somewhere quiet and peaceful to contemplate something green.
I often think that in today's overcrowded world we expect a lot from human beings. I am so lucky to have so much space, but most people are squashed tighter and tighter together, and yet, more than ever before, we expect everyone to 'play nicely'.
Losing it isn't allowed.
But everyone needs somewhere to let off steam. Somewhere calm and green.

The only big city I have lived in for any length of time is London. I moved there as a student and just sort of stayed for the next twenty years. London has its fair share of dreadful housing, but it also has lots of green spaces - squares and parks, woods and commons. I was commenting to my mother only recently that while I don't ever recall having the luxury of central heating as a student, I only ever chose flat/house shares that had some sort of garden, however small.

I watched a wonderful programme the other day, about the inspirational designer Thomas Heatherwick, he of the fabulous Olympic Cauldron fame (amongst other things.)

The wonderful Olympic Cauldron

If you didn't see the programme, do watch it - BBC2's Culture Show - I think it is only available for a few more days.
He is designing a Garden Bridge for central London. A pedestrian bridge filled with trees, flowers, birds, bees and butterflies. I'm not sure if it was originally his idea, or Joanna Lumley's but whoever thought of it, 'more power to them', as they would say in Ireland.

They just need someone to pay for it. Needless to say, it will be very expensive.
But what price such a perfect, green, soul-replenishing getaway?
Maybe the Beckhams could fund it. They have plenty of money, not to mention a child named after a bridge.
They could do this one in reverse - name a bridge after a child. The Harper Seven Bridge perhaps?
I don't suppose anyone would mind what it was called, if they could sit there and breathe out steam and breathe in green peace and birdsong.

An artist's impression of the proposed Garden Bridge for Central London


  1. The garden bridge is a fabulous idea, I shall try and watch the Culture Show, thanks for recommendation. Your garden is beautiful too.

  2. This reminds me of the walkway that has been built in New York City - gardens high above the city, mostly pot gardens, but beautiful nonetheless.
    Your garden is lovely.

  3. You're garden is beautiful. We have been reclaiming our garden which became very overgrown and neglected through laziness and bad summers. Going for a low-maintainance design but with somewhere to sit and, as you say, get away from it all.


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