Sarah Coles

EERIE EDINBURGH

Bill drove us to Portobello and parked among an estate of very proper 1930s bungalows.  Weirdly, a 19th century mausoleum like a giant concrete block towers over them.  It is the Craig Miller Mausoleum (what Miller did no one seems to know) and its sides depict the crossing of the Red Sea.    One has a plaque with the Israelites, a man and dancing maidens, called ‘the song of Moses and Miriam’.  There’s a hen or two, and a cow.  Water laps their feet.  On the other side is Pharaoh on his chariot – you’d recognise him anywhere – as he and his men and horses are overthrown by...
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FIGS

Figs!  So many figs.   Usually one or two edible, but that’s all.  This summer it bore the usual hard green figs but they ripened.  The birds were as excited as we.  So, walking under the leaves, each penis and testicle shaped – no wonder Adam clothed himself in one – a heart shaped linden leaf more suitable for Eve? – the sun glowing through, and reaching for a ripe fig, skin dull brownish green but within rings of dull cream and purple surrounding soft wet pinky orange seeds, its secret garden.  Food for...
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Golden Rain

I planted the Golden Rain Tree, Koelreuteria paniculata oh, twelve years ago, having  checked its hardiness and tolerance of chalky soil.  I liked the name.  Soon I was attaching bird feeder to its branches.   Now, it blots out any summer view from the bedroom above.   In spring ferny pink leaves appear, later green.  In late July and August sprays of tiny gold flowers bloom.  These fade and fall, but the show is not over.  The tree is covered by sprays of little Chinese lanterns holding the seed.  Eventually, leaves and lanterns fall, resulting in a few seedlings on the ground nearby.  In...
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PAINTING PARADISE

My garden is the nearest I get to paradise.  It is my sanctuary. Years ago I went – I don’t know when – to see Painting Paradise, the Art of the Garden at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, with plant and garden paintings gathered by the royals over the centuries.   I loved the manuscripts of Islamic gardens with octagonal ponds and chenar (plane) trees, lovers and flowers (their deep symbolism barely mentioned in explanatory notes).  Ditto Rembrandt’s painting of Christ as a gardener, complete with trowel.   Ditto some medieval gardens. Then royal and aristocratic grandeur. ...
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SEDUM BLISS

No Chelsea Flower Show this year – the cloud of Covid still hangs over us. But the 2019 RHS Plant of the year was Sedum takimense Atlantis, and I bought two, and this summer Atlantis in its pot has been glorious, white and pale green shoots topped by flurries of tiny gold flowers.  In sun for only half the day, it has flowered for weeks and been a consolation for everything.  This photo I am sorry to say was taken towards the end of its glory.  The other Atlantis, in the front of a border, has not been happy.  I moved it to a pot. Now, to propagate Atlantis.  The happy fact of sedums is that...
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