Sarah Coles

Garden Blog

January 1st, 2016


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...


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....


November 30th, 2015

Dandelions – from the USA


September 20th, 2015


I’ve been there twice, but never in the crumbling grotto – I’d walked around the motley collection of follies and was not planning to go again but when an invitation arrived for a press junket with guided tour to see the newly restored grotto, well, I had to go – despite being allergic to guided tours. Arrived at Painshill, having negotiated Surrey’s endless suburbia, & parked. The usual press greeting with bix and lukewarm coffee from a thermos. Then off we set, about 12 of us, with head gardener Andy – into the walled...


August 31st, 2015


Wendy is my Inspiration.  She lent me a book on the Findhorn Foundation which I found very New Agey (communing with plants!  I only knew that as a flowery metaphor). But later I  stayed at the Findhorn Foundation for a couple of nights, and took part in a wonderful tribal circle dance in the hall.  A meditation room was roofed in heather, but I found it very difficult to even slightly loosen the cold grip of rationality I had been brought up in. Then Wendy started a meditation  group and invited me to join.  The others were far more...


August 22nd, 2015

New Plants So Far …

    JANUARY Acanthus, I planted 2 from RHS under the gleditsia, having seen them do well in shade in Winchester. In March, find label Acanthus Tasmanian Angel, all variegated & spotty sickly – ugh! But is it them?   (August, and both doing ok and not variegated, and one has had a tall beautiful flowers) MARCH 25 Gladioli from Jane Fuest. Planted them in pot to see how they do and, that way, I have more control over them – slugs, weeds, watering etc. Jane’s are in pots. Varieties: Given names seem completely wrong.  Wine...


August 18th, 2015


Good to be here again, in spite of the howl of the A 14, with all these experts and all the veg and flowers bursting from the sandy soil. Never seen such runner bean flowers, a perfect peachy pink, grown over wigwams.  Named Celebration.  I’ll grow them here, allowing them to ramble over shrubs and pick them when I felt like it. All forms and colours of dahlias, but I am not keen on pompon, ball, waterlily, anemone or cactus types – they attract no insects, no bees, and would be like Essex bling in my garden which gets...


August 6th, 2015

As Flaubert said …

Flaubert said, to make anything interesting, you simply have to look at it long enough.   I never thought much about lobelias – I like them in summer flowing out of their pots, a cheery background to all the rest of the garden.  I buy em in and pull em out, summer and autumn – annuals are lightweights, not stayers. Then out of their hundreds of tiny blue flowers I looked at one. It had a face – slanting white eyebrows and black mouth with a droopy three pronged white beard to summon insects in, and I had never...


July 28th, 2015

Leaves, more leaves, different leaves

Nearly August. There’s been rain – everything through its grey veil seems to quiver upwards. I stayed inside until it stopped. Outside the wooden water butt has swelled and closed the gaps in drying wood. Here there aren’t enough flowers to shout, and the only reason the garden looks any good at first sight is the leaves – the variegated cornus looking pale and interesting, the shiny hands of the fatsia with pointy nails, the maroon flutes of Eucomis Purple Burgundy and the strange reds of Persicaria Red Dragon, and the all...


July 13th, 2015

No Wonder Pick Your Own is no more!

I’m fed up with my garden birds, blackbirds, thrushes the lot!  Loads of gooseberries, which I don’t mind sharing, but why do they always take the easiest to pick, leaving me with prickly hard to reach fruit in the middle of the bush?  Especially now, when Whinham’s Purple left to change from green to pink to dark sweet delicious purple, the size of pullets eggs, hasn’t had a chance.  They’re virtually all gone. Next year, remember, NETTING. No wonder the craze for PYO is over.  The wretched growers...


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