There’s a great specimen of Parrotia persica by the path that runs from the Design Studio to the main building on the Hadlow campus. Students and staff brush past this large shrub which is almost a tree about 6 times day. The current 3rd year, brushed up against a smaller specimen in Calverly Gardens, Tunbridge Wells this week on a survey visit for the Place and Culture project. No one could recognize the plant. Of course, their minds are on different things  – many research projects and the start of their major year long project – so recalling a certain plant is not top of their priorities at the moment. We’ve all looked at plants that we know perfectly well and been stumped for the name.  In a way, that’s the rationale behind this post, readjusting with the known but looking with fresh eyes.

Looking to the sky with one long deep breath . . . . hardly any leaves left on the Acer palmatum . . . . but with such a spectacular colourful finale in autumn, it must be exhausted and longing for dormancy.

Many berries still on Crataaegus prunifolia and fruits of a different sort on the pine.

The double borders are pinned down with 2 lines of fastigiate oaks. At the start of the journey down the borders, the naked stems of the pollarded pauwlonias echo the upright habit and encourage the eye skywards again.

A line of Alnus incana in front of the birch – all quite simply positioned but apposite. The torch looks great at the base of one shining upwards! So looking upwards, the last leaves on the cotinus flutter away.

And onto the Betula nigra group with the young branches still fairly smooth and tactile. Those who know these gardens will recognise the route I chose by the sequence of the images . . .

. . . the mature trunk and branches are wonderfully wrapped in the tissuey layer of peeling bark.

And the taxodiums are entering their quiet time. A good deal of this planting was instigated by Kemal Mehdi, a plantsman and an individual who influenced and inspired students and staff alike. He’s missed by many here including me but busy on his own garden now.

There is no Silence in the Earth — so silent
As that endured
Which uttered, would discourage Nature
And haunt the World.  Emily Dickinson

Saturday morning after a busy week, thought the water in the sweet pea bowl needed refreshing. Placing it back on the table and looking down into the still perfumed mass, a good 50 blooms, I decided to record the event visually. They looked so gorgeous.

Then my eye travelled a few inches to this cover by Fiona Rae  on last year’s  catalogue for the 75th anniversary of Glyndebourne  – that has some connections, for me, with the peas . . .

. . . now I was on a very pleasant little diversion as these two postcards (sent home from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile on December 17th ) on the table also had something to say to me.

Valley of the Moon with Licancobur Volcano above and Sunset at Atacama’s Great Salt Marsh below.

Above the bowl of sweet peas is a print by Gillian Ayres – so much to look at and so much to discover . . .

Even the stack of butterfly chairs just below gets me going . . .

. . . swinging around to look at the cornucopia on the mantelpiece, I rediscover the skeleton of a prickly pear from Asilah and some acacia twigs from the Little Karoo . . .

. .  which connect visually to something outside the window . . . all this within a couple of metres; and a couple of minutes.

It’s like the Light —
A fashionless Delight —
It’s like the Bee —
A dateless — Melody —

It’s like the Woods —
Private — Like the Breeze —
Phraseless — yet it stirs
The proudest Trees —

It’s like the Morning —
Best — when it’s done —
And the Everlasting Clocks —
Chime — Noon!  Emily Dickinson

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