The Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Wisley in the English county of Surrey, south of London, is one of four gardens run by the Society. It may be unseasonal, but my Photo Gallery today takes me back to a visit there in Springtime ten years ago. I accept that these are formal arrangements, but it is still a delight to view the brilliant colours of both daffodils and tulips – a delightful reminder of what Spring brings every year.
William Holman Hunt – The hireling Shepherd (detail) 1851 (Manchester Art Gallery, UK
The Salley Gardens
Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet; She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet. She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree; But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.
In a field by the river my love and I did stand, And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand. She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs; But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.
William Butler Yeats 1865-1939
Yeats has said that his composition of this poem was “an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman in the village of Ballisdoare, Co.Sligo. “Salley” or “sally” is a form of the Standard English word “sallow”, i.e., a tree of the genus Salix. It is close in sound to the Irish word saileach, meaning willow. Click on the link below to hear a sung version of Yeats’ poem by Maura O’Connell with Karen Matheson …
A. Don’t interrupt me when I’m thinking. B. What about? A. You wouldn’t want to know. B. Why? Is it a secret? A. Could be. B. Tell me. A. Wouldn’t be a secret if I did. B. Now you intrigue me. A. Secrets are for keeping to yourself. B. Who says? A. That’s the definition of a secret. B. But if you tell me I won’t tell anyone. A. If I do tell you it won’t be a secret any more. B. But only you and I will know. A. But then someone else might ask you to tell them. B. But I won’t tell them. A. But that’s what you said to me. B. I did? A. Yes … And then you told me. B. Did I? A. Oh! B. It’s no secret that you can’t keep a secret, you know. A. Is it? B. How do you know that? A. It’s a secret. B. Tell me. A. No, B. Why? A. It wouldn’t be a secret if I did.
My photographs of the two sculptural heads were taken at ‘Sculpture Heaven’ in Wales . . .
The Sculpture Gardens, Workshops and Galleries.
Ceri Gwnda, Rhydlewis, Llandysul, Ceredigion., SA44 5RN
All the sculptures there have a strong connection to the fabled past. The works have the appearance of classical antiquities. Many are by British sculptor, Jon Barnes, with artists Terry and Rose Barter complementing the range with their carvings of the Green Man, Buddhas, and contemporary sculpture.
‘View of the town and Abbey from Daniel’s Well’ … WHB … 2014
Following my ‘Delightful Destinations’ blogs on Whitby and on Bosham, I would now like to make a brief visit to Malmesbury, an ancient hilltop town in England’s southern Cotswolds. The town is almost completely encircled by the river Avon, and it claims to be the oldest Borough in England. On the flat top of its hill stands the town’s ancient abbey, which was founded in the 7th century as a Benedictine monastery by Adhelm, the nephew of the then King of Wessex. From then on the site became a renowned place of pilgrimage. Later, in the 10th century, Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, and the first King of all England, chose Malmesbury as his capital. Although he died in Gloucester, Athelstan is buried in the Abbey at Malmesbury.
The town, with its ancient abbey, its grounds and gardens, is a delight. One of its most stunning sights is the abbey church’s imposing south porch, dating from the late 12th Century, which has eight rows of carvings of biblical scenes.
There are many fascinating stories associated with the town and its abbey, including that of the 11th century monk, Eilmer, who attempted one of the earliest human flights. Details of Eilmer’s story can be found on Wikipediea at: ST.EILMER’S STORY . . .
Another story concerns the death of a Hannah Twiddow. who, in 1703, became, or so it is recorded, the first woman to have been killed in the UK by a tiger. More of this and other local stories can be discovered at the museum in the old Town Hall.
Several paintings of the abbey at Malmesbury were made by J.M.W. Turner in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I reproduce two of them below …
One of the foremost attractions of modern day Malmesbury for me is the Abbey Gardens. Adjacent to the Abbey itself, and built on a steep hillside directly above the River Avon, the gardens are a delight, with numerous sections each offering different plants, colours and perspectives.
On my first visit there several years ago, I took this photograph of a decidedly risqué gardener hedge pruning . . .
I later discovered that the gardens have a secondary status as the horticultural project of the ‘Naked Gardeners’. The concept certainly added interest to an already extraordinary garden.
I have very recently found, however, that the future of the gardens is under threat as the intrepid pioneers of naked gardening, who have created and sustained the garden for many years, have now placed the whole property up for sale. So, how long the abbey gardens will remain open, and whether or not, and in what form, the project will continue is very much in doubt.
The current position regarding the future of these beautiful gardens was summarised in a recent article in the’ Telegraph’,under the heading: ‘Paradise Lost for Divorcing Naked Gardeners’ . . .