Sarah Coles
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ROSES

It’s like returning to a discarded lover who has stayed faithful through the years.  I was just bored with roses.  They were so damn flowery.  Decades ago, I was told to spray with chemicals to stop the mildew, blackspot, you name it, ‘to keep them clean’.  I never did.  But now I see you once more and know that in fact I love you. You have such variety you are never boring.  The east wall is papered with Pink Perpetue, symmetrical and much admired,  scentless but whose petals neatly fall. Best is Cecile Brunner, a glorious climber over an arch.  Every year, generous and profuse, with...
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Herbs and more in England’s Ancient Garden Map

‘Dulwich?  How dull!’  joked Bob when I was going there.  So I looked up the name, and found Dulwich originates from Dill – it was the place where dill grew, where they went to harvest and infuse it in gripe water for infant and other ailments. Suddenly I saw a map of England, alive with all the plants which give places their name.  Not just dill at Dulwich.  Alresford, where I live is the ford with alders.  Woods of oak, ash, beech and birch abound at Oakhampton, Ashridge, Beecham, and Birkenhead.  Bexhill is the hill where box grows, and aspens flourish at Apsley.  The ghosts of elms...
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GREEN MAN IN THE GARDEN

In Ely Cathedral there are at least Green Men and animals, with greenery spewing from their mouths and sometimes eyes.  What do they mean?  They come  from the 11th to the 15th centuries, though I have seen a late Roman mosaic Green Man in Istanbul’s mosaic museum. Some say they symbolize pagan nature, always in torment, and always sited near the west end.  However, in Ely they are mostly at the east end, in the choir and near the high altar.  You can spot them in churches and cathedrals all over England. Is he ‘Jack of the Green’ celebrated on May Day?  A pre-Christian nature...
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A GARDEN FOR LILLIPUT

15th February 2021 Miniature garden designer My first garden was created decades ago.  Must have been aged about five. When Ma took me out on a walk, I gathered twigs and mosses, and on returning home I arranged them on a plate to become a doll’s house garden.  Ma lent me a little mirror from her handbag.  My garden was Japanese in feel, with bridges, shrubs, a tree here and there and a central glittering pond.  Green was its only colour. I was thinking about it.  And so the other day, in this damp cold time of Covid restrictions,  as I went for a muddy walk in the wood, I had a bag and in...
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WINTER LEAVES

It’s winter, depths of.  Freezing.  I look at tree trunks, and lichen like verdigris, and the leaves that remain.  So subtle, unlike the baby froth of spring, the punch of summer or fire of autumn.  It’s like being able to see stars in daytime. There’s variegated ivy spread eagled on a wall, giving all year shelter and nesting to the birds.   Never thought it would grow like this when I bought it in a little pot to stabilise a nearby bank.   Each leaf is an island map with pale, dark  and gold contours. Mid summer I hacked down the giant fennel which had grown so huge and coarse it...
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