Sarah Coles

Garden Blog

August 1st, 2019

DEREK JARMAN’S GARDEN AT DUNGENESS

No one knows where Dungeness is. Bill thought it was near Aldeburgh and Rosie Sturgis in Wales. It’s a high spur of shingle deposited by floods in Kent when a frozen North Sea thawed after the last Ice Age and flooding the vast plain of Doggerland pushed through the Channel. Ann and I found we were both reading Derek Jarman’s Journals, and had to visit his garden in the shingle of Dungeness. Jarman started the garden when he was already dying of Aids but it took more than four years to kill him. He bought this black wooden fisherman’s...

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July 29th, 2019

Kew Gardens

The Hive is the big excitement. Kew Gardens have bee hives, and their sound is amplified through a construction of metal network, a huge mound of interlacing silvery hexagons. The varying sounds indicate begging for a food sample, pointing to food supplies, ‘tooting’ and ‘quarking’, but you hear not so much a buzz as a throb and hum: live music and the sound of heaven. Perfect for meditation. At ground level we looked up and saw the feet of people through a circle of murky glass, then we climbed and entered the centre...

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July 3rd, 2019

OTHER PEOPLE’S GARDENS

JUNE The gardens in our village are open today. Broad Street is lined with sedate Georgian houses all built within decades of each other because two massive 18th century fires burnt their predecessors down. Their gardens extend behind, some as far as 75 yards. Every house, in fact the whole area, is listed, which means the owners can’t alter the front facades but behind they can erect garden sheds or summer houses or conservatories. The backs are a contrast, relaxed and higgledy piggledy. You enter a garden, via a gate or garage which was...

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June 5th, 2019

CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW 2019

CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW! 2019 Yes, it’s over. I’m critical but I love it, the vibes, the brief excitement in this tiny area of plants, gardens, pop up shops, food vans, stalls selling Pimms, uplifting mottoes all over the place, furniture, gazebos, and sculpture, naff and ok. I went on the final day, and hardly bothered with the show gardens, because they’ve been on TV and they’re about spectacle not reality – they look stunning for a week before being slung into refuse vans. What has a Yorkshire canal lock to do with gardening? It’s...

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April 8th, 2018

Lazy Gardener?

No seeds this year.  Sheer laziness, no, just lack of time.  And so, Plants!  Container annuals from Sarah Raven, and leeks, golden beetroot and a variety of lettuce from Mr Fothergills.  Handy research for Gardening Forever.

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January 8th, 2017

GHOST FLOWERS AND OTHER APPARITIONS

Overnight ghost stag horn ferns and clouds sprout on the windows of the freezing greenhouse.  But as it warms by one degree they vanish as quickly as they came, leaving smeary glass.  But while they are here, the freezing tiles on the barn opposite are outlined in white, grass is crisp and wiry, everything is still, and beautiful.  Twigs and leaves sparkle with a myriad brilliant spots, as though each were a pinhole to paradise.  Which they are.  Today it’s warmer and everywhere is flat, wet, dark.  Tiny balloons from last...

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January 7th, 2017

WINTER SCENT

JANUARY 3RD 2017 Bright  and freezing.  Nothing in the way of flowers but, wait!  I never noticed Christmas Box, Sarcocca confusa, its slight creamy flowers are barely visible among the shiny leaves and last year’s black berries, but boy … from two pots either side the door its scent now wafts over everyone who enters.  A welcome, a Please Enter. They’ve been there over ten years, and come from self sown seedlings, and all I do is occasionally top dress them, scraping off some soil and replacing it with fresh...

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January 4th, 2016

DECEMBER HELLEBORES

January 3rd. Wet and warm. Rains every day. Since I have had my cataracts lasered off I can actually see! And drops do not dribble down or mist up my specs because I don’t wear them. Best, I can see the row of hellebores among emergent bluebells along the narrow path to the gate – already out at the end of December. Most are still pearls hugging the earth, but one is fully out, petals with coarse maroon flecks and, another, most precious of all because it is self-sown and therefore like nothing else and totally mine, is one which...

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January 1st, 2016

TURNER, EVERYWHERE

I went to London to see the late Turner exhibition. Oh I loved it, the way he stayed by the sea and saw the waves rushing one way and dissolved into spray by the wind the other way. He saw the energy and life in all things, in the sea, and in the scudding clouds, and in the fires as the House of Lords burnt down. This energy, this change, is History (had to give it an H). I took off my glasses, and the crowds melded together, like a misty Turner crowd, without individuality, just this rushing presence. Then there was the death of...

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November 30th, 2015

The Cauldron in the Forest

In the British Museum I saw, in an exhibition on the Celts, the Gundelstrup Cauldron, from Denmark. Silver, with great panels inside and out. Of god faces, a god with horns, animals of all kinds, hybrid animals, a man riding a fish, a girl plaiting the hair of a goddess – all stern and staring. What ritual drink did the cauldron contain? Wine? Mead? The blood of sacrificial victims? And weaving through it all in the background, the leaves of a linden, here the primal tree of the forest. All creation merged and was the other....

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