The Habitat Garden Blog

Gardener in Exile

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We acquired our rather overgrown three acres of English country garden in summer 2016 and I was deeply immersed in discovering, designing and restoring it when the opportunity arose to move to California for a few years. How could I refuse? But my goodness, what a wrench it was to leave that garden behind! 

 I felt a little bereft without it. I realised what an enormous wellspring of daily interest, purpose and inspiration it was to me. A constant outlet for creativity and source of mental stimulation and physical exertion. A daily excuse to be present in nature. It was a gift. I was fulfilled. 

And so I decided to spend some of my time in California studying towards an RHS Diploma in Horticulture (which I can highly recommend), reading widely about gardens and visiting them whenever I had the opportunity. And setting up this blog - which is becoming something of a surrogate, virtual garden.

I also write the odd poem. Haikus seem to best capture the essence of the garden I miss and evoke its surroundings in rural Essex, more strongly than even photographs. 

The following collection can be likened to a ‘tasting menu’ of my garden, in haiku form. But first, a word of advice:

Haikus are like shots

Of pure poetry, distilled

Don’t think them; drink them!


Church bells. Scent of rain.

As bees drone, pollen-dusty, 

In the wet garden 


The aloof hedgerow!

Effusively, the dog rose

Tumbles throughout it


The ancient pond rests

In dank and earthy hollow 

Yellow flags ablaze


Bright senescent globe 

Whose seed, by grace of wind, sown 

Drifts, ever smoke-like  


As moon time relents

Sunlight gently awakens 

The sleeping garden

I miss my garden but I’m regarding my time away from it as a small sacrifice akin to nipping out apple blossom buds in favour of a better crop next season. I’m slightly terrified about the height the nettles will have achieved by the time we move home, but the wildlife won’t be complaining.

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  1. Megan Benson

    I know this can be wrenching but it seems so much of gardening is in the creative impulse. All the best on this part of your journey!

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  2. Colin

    Simple pleasures............ living in the country and watching the seasons. A garden is our private safari park

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