Saturday, 6 March 2010

A long winter and update at last!

It has been a long time since I last blogged, I know, but I think that all those people who care about the garden will understand why it has been such a difficult time for me. And what a winter! So here at last is some news of what is happening at the walled garden.

After several weeks of digging up plants, I was helped by a wonderful team of volunteers in mid November to move them in a ragtag collection of boxes, trays and every available sack and bag to a temporary location. Thanks to the generosity of a local landowner, who not only has given my plants this refuge, but even had the ground rotavated and prepared, I was able to take specimens of many of my favourite plants and settle them in before the winter cold. It was just in the nick of time too, as I hadn't realised then that it would turn out to be the hardest winter for a long time. It started raining on November 17th and hardly stopped for a month making the ground really unworkable, then of course there was snow from late December onwards and many people up here were snowed in. Following that, a month of hard frosts and the ground undiggable for a different reason....

In January, the English Garden magazine published a five page article that I had written which was not only about my history at Chesters Walled Garden but about what it is to leave a garden, with its memories and associations held by the plants and the sense of place. It was a cathartic thing to write and is one of a number of artistic projects that help me and others to come to terms with the loss of this special place. In late May, the Queen's Hall arts centre in Hexham will have an exhibition for a month that brings together some of the artworks - paintings, prints, photographs and ceramics - created by artists in response to the garden over the years. It will also preview a collaboration that I am doing with the book illustrator and printmaker, Kim Lewis, called 'Sanctuary', a series of 12 linocuts and text of 12 plants that symobilise the garden and my feelings for it. In addition, there will be memorabilia and a chance for visitors to add to the Garden Memories Book.

Right now, I am embarking on a project to make a new garden which will only be open in a very limited way for charity .... but which at the moment is mud, stones, boulders, weeds and hasn't been cultivated for many years. Hard work and much preparation has to be done to get the ground ready for the plants to come back from their temporary storage but with the help of friends and volunteers, it will somehow get done!

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