Archives for the month of: March, 2016

Waiting is never easy, waiting for the garden to return to life after winters bleakness; waiting for a phone call or test results, waiting for a parcel to be delivered; we are just not cut out for waiting. Unusually, we have just experienced a busier than usual Holy Week. Each night as we closed the front door, Oscar sat bemused and looking a little reproachful, no fire to curl up beside, no one to chase or plead hunger with; an empty house, again. An evening of waiting. After the promise of spring last week, cold wet weather has returned and I feel a little vexed for the bride and groom today and hope for an hour respite from the wind and rain. And we wait for Katy to storm over our Isle.

What to do with the day between “Good Friday” (Or Black or Bad Friday as some of my continental friends refer to it) and Easter Sunday? For us non-conformists it is a strange day, some sort of – nothingness, we don’t hold Easter vigils, but will stand on the windswept beach in the morning, in the stinging rain and celebrate Easter Morning. Maybe empty Saturday, that time “between Good Friday and Easter Day confirms the reality of Jesus’ death. …He genuinely lies in the grave, dead.” (Jane Williams ‘Approaching Easter.”)


Working in the garden over this past week, weeding, clearing, raking out the moss, I discovered that already many seedlings are breaking through the soil having lain dead in the ground for a season. There is hope and a promise. Snowdrops that have cheered our wintered souls, now tattered and tinged with brown, fade and die as spring returns. Now the garden is festooned in bright yellow as the daffodils take their place. Tiny lesser celandine light up the mossy grass, turning their cheerful faces to the sun.

Daisies open, tracking the sun throughout the day, Hellebore holds her flowers in shades of palest greens and red. Bright crimson flowers of the Japanese Quince and the flowering currant attract the first bees, while the first butterflies flit across the garden. We have all been waiting. Spring has come and with it new life, Easter lambs gambol in the fields, birds adorn the cherry tree and sing, nest building begins…

Moss detail

Even the tiniest plants put on growth. We wait in hope, in peacefulness, in the assurance that all will return to life. Be still and wait…

 Thanks for stopping by today – Happy Easter !

An Easter Gift

On Holy Saturday I do my best to live in that place, that wax-crayon place of trust and waiting. Of accepting what I cannot know.

Of mourning what needs to be mourned. Of accepting what needs to be accepted. Of hoping for what seems impossible.”

Jerusalem Jackson Greer

St Peter's College, Cardross entrance

For years now we have driven through Cardross on our way to Geilston Gardens or Helensburgh and architect husband would mention St Peter’s College, hidden somewhere among the trees overlooking the Firth of Clyde. A place renowned for it’s Brutalist / Modernist Architecture created by Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan  of  Gillespie, Kidd and Coia. Hugely influenced by Le Corbusier architecture in France but alas our climates are poles apart!

I have heard of the sunlight filtering through the glulam beams lighting up the sanctuary, of the avant garde design, the processional ramp, wood and concrete interior and brutalist exterior, nestled in a woodland setting. Sadly after only a few years use, the seminary was vacated and deconsecrated, turning into a drug rehabilitation centre before falling into disuse and becoming a playground for substance abuse, graffiti artists and fire raisers.

On the “Buildings at Risk” register for years, finally Scotland is beginning to realise what a treasure this burnt out, graffiti scrawled building is about. Last night we joined some of the 7,500 people who have bought tickets to visit Hinterland. Groups of about 200 left Helensburgh Pier in buses at regular intervals, driving along the moonlit roads until reaching a clearing in the woods to the sound of choral singing and the Shofar. Equipped with lit walking poles we followed the group along the woodland path – and met my friend and her architect husband; reassured that it was amazing and yes, full of architects! Ravaged by time, weather and mischief, the building stands forlorn yet exuding something beautiful. A place of meaning and as one person described it – pilgrimage. Hubby remarked that he had just had his first spiritual, secular experience!

I must admit to feeling sad that such a wonderful place had all but been destroyed, wanting to see it in the daylight so I could make sense of the space and structure. Hopefully now that we understand what we have lost, maybe St Peter’s College can be saved?


Interior, looking to the high Altar (I think!)

Looking over to Greenock & Port Glasgow, Helensburgh peir

Walking back through the holly trees, by now exceedingly cold, we joined the other ‘pilgrims’ talking excitedly about what they had seen and heard. Waiting for the buses to return, the next 200 appeared for their tour. Arriving back at Helensburgh Pier we looked over the Firth to Greenock and Port Glasgow, once great hubs of industry, ship building and shipping. and reflected how much has changed in our short lives!

Thanks for stopping by today, been busy trying to get the garden aright but its good to get out and visit too!

If you are wondering what I’m fussing about would you do this to Robert Venturi, Lloyd-Wright, Corbusier, Guuner Asplund???

Splendor of ended day, floating and filling me!
Hour prophetic–hour resuming the past!
Inflating my throat–you, divine average!
You, Earth and Life, till the last ray gleams, I sing…”

Song At Sunset

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

Even Song

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?

Robert Lowry


A happy tiredness descends upon us; we have just experienced one of those glorious Spring days. The sun creeps over the eastern hills setting the sky alight and painting the western skies in bright sunrise. The garden is a picture as it glitters and twinkles in the early sunlight…

If my spirits slumped last week, my heart soars in the unexpected warmth as the frost melts away. An azure sky above, cloudless except for the contrails of jet aircraft heading off across the ocean. The thrush sits on the rook’s-rest and sings as if his heart would burst. As I work I discover how busy he has been in a pile of broken snail shells. Another voice catches my ear, the long-tailed tits have arrived to feed and sing out their song from the sycamore tree. With the increasing warmth I discard my scarf but keep my neoprene wellies on as the ground is cold!

After the long wet winter there is much to do! The veg patch needs more homemade compost added, fearing that it had never been warm enough I find Avocado stones sprouting and a harvest of new potatoes, realising this is also a winter larder for voles I leave plenty for them; keep a few for chitting, while the rest go to the kitchen. The day passes as I weed, clear, fill barrows with compost to add to the beds. By the end of the day I feel content at a job well done…

Golden Sunset

I confess I love poetry and old hymns; love the imagery and theology contained in them. In the city, most weekends would find me singing and playing my guitar, since we moved I haven’t really found my place. Last weekend we escaped to the city to have lunch with the “kids” (Mother’s Day) and catch up with friends at church, it was like going home. But this is home now and we long to share it with city bound friends, a place a peacefulness and tranquility.  As I worked in the garden an old hymn kept coming to mind, How can I keep from singing? How can I keep from singing? Even when life seems to be a long, journey home? Another lesson learned in the garden – lift up your voice and sing, the garden is overflowing with melodies, the past is gone, the future yet to come and today is the present!

Thanks for stopping by today, whatever the season of your soul – let go and sing!


Feathers in the sky

As some have divining instincts 

For water, gold or diamond,

Can tell by a twitch or a scent,

So others, I among them,

Have a similar gift to tell

Of a season changing. It’s not

In the power of one sense only

Or the habit of memory.

If I could tell the causes

I’d lose the knack or gift...’

Instinct for Seasons

Elizabeth Jennings (1926- )

In Scotland, every day of sunshine is a gift; people flood outdoors, putting on a smile with their warm clothes and walking shoes. Gardeners rush outside in a frenzy of busy-ness, garden chairs swept clear of leaves and turned to face the sun. Overhead the trees are filled with chirping birds, charming their way to avian hearts. Every crevice and axil of the trees winter bark inspected for sheltering  insects; the first sleepy bugs luxuriating in the new found sun…

With warmth and light, flowers open, petals unfurl adding brightness to the muted garden, tired of wintered colour, longing for the return of blue skies and insect drone…

New foliage in stunning shades of green and bronze, petals in perfect pattern, intricate stamens and styles awaiting the pollinators return; Blackthorn and Flowering Blackcurrant unfold tightly held buds in vivid tones…

Under the welcome sun the sea itself is calm and still, reflecting the pale sky and white clouds; as twilight falls and the garden once more resounds with birdsong, filling the tranquil air with melody and counter melody. The weather may be fickle but golden days are rare like Scottish gold; days to be treasured and lived. Tomorrow will arrive with rain…




Snowfall on Arran

Suddenly it’s March, the setting sun lights up the snowy mountains, a North wind blows and the garden shivers. Days grow longer if not warmer; the setting sun wreaths the island in ribbons of red and orange.

Wrapped in several layers and making the most of recent dry weather, the increasing piles of garden rubbish have been cleared. The sweet smell of wood smoke drifts across the garden, the wheelbarrow filled with compost materials as flower beds are tidied and perennials cut back; already plants are springing back to life.

Little lily

Throughout the long, dark, wet winter days, the pink lily (Schizostylis coccinea) has brightened the sullen garden. Saved from the chaos of the overgrown plot, several small clumps now flower throughout the winter.


Shrubs decimated by the sellers have re-established themselves, already blossoming, nectar for the first insects stirring. Unable to prune in Autumn, there are shrubs needing cut back that should have been removed long ago that now take up too much space and light…


Colour returns in the form of spring bulbs, crocus, hyacinths and daffodils..


Somehow, last year areas of neglect seemed to abound, yet the snowdrops have flowered in spite of the near constant storms. Meanwhile in the cooler, shaded areas some are just beginning to bloom. For the first time in years, no snowdrops have graced our table, normally we would have gathered some for mum…

Raindrops on Aquilegia

Usually quite content in my own company, an unexpected wave of loneliness envelopes me with a longing for the company of friends and family, the bustle of the city. An unbidden melancholy…

March sdunset

In the golden embers of a day that is neither truly winter nor spring; listening to the birdsong cascade across the garden; the seagulls cry rising on the bitter wind…

Sunset March

Breathing in the pure, clear air, bathed in the golden light of the setting sun, blackbirds quarrel, sparrows chirp, robins compete for the sweetest tune. Shy dunnocks gather fallen seed from the busy blue tits. Soon the last melodies fade away, only the wind moans through the trees, the whisper of the waves against the distant shore, first stars brighten the evening sky. In the shadows the empty garden benches extend an invitation. Waiting for warmer days and summer visitors….