Do I take the road or does the road take me?

Up from the valley

wedges of green part the scribbled wild

Steep, the smell of mycelia in the mould

and heart pumping silence

Until monstrous diesel churning punctuates the Penny Pot pencil coppice

Wise old oaks preside and lanky adolescents lumber

From forest edges to hedges to verges rustling with chattering chaperones

Black caps coal heads

Chains winding metallic engines


The invisible road

worn smooth by tyres

Where grass grows between the treads



Joy likes and not or                                                                                          Eat to eat for all                                                                                            Nettle field green                                                                                      Spider webbed monkey puzzle                                                                      A perfect lawn with brick battlements, five courses high                    Cordons of stout applewood beside artificial green netting                            Two cars placed carelessly and a purposeful man with a frosted plastic bag  of leeks stuck with pale clay soil.

The surface of the earth is dazzling this morning, like a layer of liquid  life. Clinging, hanging, equally repelled and attracted. Anode to cathode of  the intangible sky                                                                                          Pierced by a stellar stigmata bleeding light colour cold heat.

Three deep dark bream flex slowly in the half clear stream below this white  welded footbridge.

Life makes no sense, then it does.

High land

A few flakes fall in puddles lined with grasping ice. The suggestive horizon is sown with white as train carriage F is pushed and pulled past slateless steam sheds.

The verge is loaded with lightness as gorse bows in reverence, fern fans flatten in curtsey unmoved by the wind tunnel snow dust steel on cold steel.

River worn gullies, stooping saplings, broken branches.

Hazy birch tops huddle in rare beef steak smoky slabs of colour slicing through the greenest stone green of wedged conifers pierced by painted leafless larch spires of burnt sienna.

Meringue souffles top mumped grassy meadows. Apricot cast on white, rising above tree tracery. The solid forest stands with arms outstretched for enlightenment, knowledge on darkness. Half grace, half density.

A grubby palette of ochre and white reaches for the cleansing of the sky. This may be the closest that we can get to purity, the surface of the moon but for the clarity of reason. The brightest blue.

Excerpt from Andrew Marvell’s ‘The Garden’

Meanwhile the mind from pleasure less

Withdraws into it’s happiness;

The mind, that ocean where each kind

Does straight it’s own resemblance find;

Yet it creates, transcending these,

Far other worlds, and other seas;

Annihilating all that’s made

To a green thought in a green shade.


This poem inspired the title of Sir Steven Tallents’ publication Green Thoughts. The book documents some of his time living at St John’s Jerusalem which he passed to the National Trust in the 1950’s. In my role as head gardener at St John’s, I feel that it is permissible for me to take that title for this journal of documentation, meditation and reflection.