Although I was born in London, I grew up in the county of Kent, also called The Garden of England.
Where there were once bluebell woods, fields full of hops, fruit trees, and dancing lambs in the spring time, today we see enormous change in the form of housing developments and motorways.
Given its close proximity to London, and the Channel Tunnel, Kent has become a major throughway by train or car for commuters and for those traveling to the wider continent of Europe.
As an only child, I loved our garden and the surrounding woodlands. I amused myself by digging holes in the garden with the hope that i might reach Australia. I would bury jars with notes and little toys…..maybe they are still there:)
When I returned to the UK in 1993, I made my home in the Magical Town of Crickadoon (Crickhowell, Wales), and it was here that with the help of Mother Nature, I developed my own little Secret Garden.
Here is the garden in full bloom and my cat Cristeve, who inspired the book ‘Christeve the Cat Finds a New Home’, climbing the ladder put there especially for her to visit her friends next door.
I learned so much from this little garden. It taught and reminded me of the natural rhythms and patterns of nature, and once again I was able to observe the interconnectedness of all life.
When I first saw the garden it was a little plot filled with junk, and debris collected over many years of neglect. It was fenced in, and had a small wooden shed in one corner….all very dilapidated and overgrown, but I could see the promise and potential.
It so happened that I saw this photograph in a magazine, and knew that it would be my guide. A jumping off point….a term I often use when using photography for painting reference.
The first thing I did, was to completely dig the garden over….and put down stone slabs.
The Magical Town of Crickadoon, is in the heart of the beautiful Usk Valley, Wales. Over the centuries the land has been flooded and reworked by different gardeners making the soil rich with nutrients. This little patch had been left fallow for over twenty years which made it ripe for growing.
Friends and neighbours in Crickadoon, gave me cuttings from their gardens….and slowly I watched my garden grow.
Everything I planted was to encourage birds, bees, butterflies, field mice, caterpillars and every other little insect that inhabit the soil we walk on, and oh my goodness they came along with their beautiful bird song, colour and energy.
I learned that as long as I nurtured the garden, the garden nurtured and fed my senses and soul.
My sitting room had french doors opening up onto the garden, which meant that even if it was raining hard, I could sit inside and still enjoy the feeling of being outside.
I would sit on the little stone bench through the rose arbor with Christeve the Cat, listening to bird song and enjoying the beautiful perfumes of nature. Magical moments indeed.
I was always reminded that even a tiny garden like this one, nurtures a whole community of seen and unseen life.
To quote Frances Hodgson Burnett, from the book The Secret Garden ‘If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden’
A Magical Hummingbird helping to pollinate gardens.