One of the joys of living in Africa is the absolute delight I experience when I visit the land of my birth and revel in the beauty of English country gardens which I am sure I would take for granted if I lived there all the time. The English sunshine and light are different to that to which I am accustomed in Africa – gentle and soft – as compared to the harshness and opulence of the African sun. I enjoy the African sun too – but in a different way.
This English garden was enchanting – just as I always picture an English garden to be. I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed sitting in it and describing it’s gentle beauty in pen and ink.
In a Walled Garden
The land produced vegetation; plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:12
The sun is warm against my back, the breeze cool on my face. There is the smell of freshly mown lawn and the sound of birdsong. In the distance, a small plane drones lazily, like a fat, contented bumble-bee. A white butterfly dances from flower to flower, feasting on nature’s lavish provision of this summer’s day. A wood pigeon shouts it’s presence to those who listen, and the old garden seems to sigh in contentment that all is well with its world.
For all around is colour. The soft brickwork encloses herbaceous borders, banks, lawns and trees. Its gentle colour has been faded by the suns of a hundred years. The oak tree stands proud in the middle of the lawn, giving welcome shade in the heat of the day. The flowers are at home in this English country garden – lupins and harebells, sweet-william and cornflowers. The scented ones lift their heads to the welcome sunshine – roses and lavender. Against the wall and covering the sun house are grapevines, shedding dappled shade and the promise of harvest if such days of light and warmth continue. Ivy clings to the old wall in the corner, its dark green leaves contrasting pleasingly with the brick; and jasmine grows in a riot of activity, competing with vines and less enthusiastic plants.
The pergola is awash with climbing roses and yet more vines. Its shadowy path and small gate invites exploration and it leads beyond the confines of the wall to the wild garden where water runs and lilies and iris grow; and where there is a profusion of soft fruits weighing down the branches that bear them – raspberries, black and red currants, gooseberries. All the delights of summer.
Looking up, I see beyond the wall to distant hills where pilgrims once trod their sacrificial way from London to Canterbury and the shrine of the old saint. Chaucer knew this path and, as I write, my heart delights to know that such a revered fore-runner of my pen may have sat as I do, in a walled garden on a sunny summer’s day and rejoiced in the written word. His words have rung down the ages – mine may well not – but the joy is in the writing, the sunshine and the colour – and I am well content.