Gardens are a fairly popular subject in poetry. They lend themselves to a variety of metaphors and imagery; The Garden of Eden, for example, often referred to in poems by Andrew Marvell, John Donne, George Herbert and other “Metaphysical” poets of the seventeenth century. The changing seasons of nature and the life-cycles of plants also figure prominently in many such poems. Although not immune to the various charms offered by gardens, I must admit to an almost complete ignorance of plants and flowers, and my own poem “The Garden” relates to the only garden I’ve ever got to know really well – the one created by my mother. The main subject of the poem is, in fact, not so much the garden itself as the way she created, then re-created it. It is, essentially, one of a whole stream of poems – inspired by my memories of her – that I’ve found myself writing since her death a few years ago.
In the beginning were the stones, the clay, the weeds;
unforgiving materials, unlikely seeds.
Then, transformation; beginning to mould
form and function. Her vision took hold.
Grass planted, soil smoothed, first sprouting of lawn.
Then a cricket pitch, a tennis court; her sons were born.
Later, the rockery, bushes, flowers, trees.
Hours spent digging, churning earth, on her knees.
Pouring devotion, her love, in diverse ways;
as fervent, here, as at church on Sundays.
Feeding the garden, as she did her family,
instinctively, tirelessly, selflessly.
Plants rotated, recycled, instilled with life anew.
Meanwhile, the Giant Redwood just grew and grew . . .