Friday, August 17, 2012


It's said that gratitude is good for you, and I'm sure that's true.  Gratitude warms the heart, relaxes the body, and causes endorphins to flow through the system.

But gratitude can also present a problem.  Along with a joyful, inner acknowledgement comes the need for some means of sharing the pleasure with others.  The rapturous clapping that we all witnessed at the London Olympics vividly illustrates this need.

So what's given rise to this letter and my current sense of gratitude?
It's the beautiful, communal garden that I share with others here in central London.
On two sides the garden is bordered by terraced houses.  On the other two sides it flanks neighbouring gardens. No road overlooks us, no passers-by can gaze in or even know that it's here.  We are blessed with a very private, secret haven.

Chloe and I have been out there for the past hour.  It was only with considerable reluctance that we came indoors, and I've returned to the flat brimming with a thankfulness that's crying out to be shared

So . . .   may I let my gratitude overflow on you?
Let me take you round our garden and share its peaceful pleasures.

To start . . . we'll sit for a moment beside the pond.
As we sit here, relaxing on the wooden seat, I'll stop talking so that you can listen carefully . . . do you notice something?
Do you notice the absence of something?
Despite the fact that busy roads run nearby, there's not the slightest rumble of traffic.  All that can be heard, other than the gentle, rhythmic patter of the fountain,  is occasional birdsong from a wide assortment of garden birds . . . including a very territorial robin.

Chloe loves the pond.  She'll show you her skill at skimming the duck-weed off the surface of the water!

And keep your eyes open for any movement below the water-lily pads.
Did you catch sight of the flash of a goldfish, or notice the steady gaze of a basking frog?

Now . . . if you're feeling relaxed and refreshed, how about moving on?

We'll take our time and slowly stroll past the herbaceous border.
Isn't it breath-taking?
Never can I recall a more lush and abundant summer show.

This bed is vivid with towering hollyhocks . . . multi-coloured dahlias . . .  differing shades of montbretia . . . begonia . . . ipomea . . . ornamental thistles . . . and wild geranium.

Other beds compete with a profusion of roses, sweet peas and hydrangea.

And can you hear the steady sound of buzzing?
The lavender bushes are alive with hordes of bees.  Surely that bodes well for next year's honey?

 Leaving behind the riot of colour and activity, we reach what is for me, and for Chloe, the most magical part of the garden.

It's out of sight, hidden behind the shrubbery and unknown to many who visit.  But, if we dip our heads beneath the overhanging shrubs, we can make our way into a secret kingdom of wildlife.

Look around you as we walk slowly down this seemingly woodland path, a path much frequented by foxes  . . . tell me, would you think you were in central London?

And look up . . . high in the chestnut trees above grey squirrels leap from branch to branch, some chasing, some playing, some in search of early autumn nuts.

But, be careful . . . I've frequently returned home to find fragments of chewed nut tangled in my hair!

There's a seat just around the corner . . . we can pause for a while and watch.

Just behind where we're sitting is Chloe's favourite tree, the tree she loves to climb.  It's where she entices her chosen friends to come and play . . . not that they need much enticement!

I could stay here all day, but I mustn't keep you.  You'll need to be on your way.

But, before you go, let me show you a hidden corner that you mustn't miss, the all-essential power-house of the garden.
Here we find the compost heaps, and the watering cans, the lawn-mower and the flower-pots, together with the all-important, well-stocked shed.  Without these essentials the garden, in all its beauty, couldn't exist.

Now . . . we can make our way up the path to the garden gate.
As we reach the gate, may I suggest that you pause for a moment and glance back over your shoulder?

Do you see that seat on the lawn . . . ?  It will be there, waiting for you, should you ever feel the wish to return.

Thank you for sharing my garden . . .  thank you for sharing my gratitude.