GARDENER

“Portunus, rough with his azure-coloured beard and Salacia, weighed down with her lapful of fish…” Lucius Apuleius “The Golden Ass” --- Late 2nd Century AD

When I researched the life of my uncle, Angus, killed in World War Two, I learned that my great, great grandfather, Colonel Eyre John Crabbe while serving in Barbados and Quebec in Canada in the 1840s, converted waste-ground outside his barracks into an ornamental garden. This enthusiasm has continued down the generations. Many of Crabbe’s descendants were, and still are, keen gardeners, like my grandmother, Daisy and cousin, Sue, co-creator of Little Sparta situated in the Lanarkshire hills.

I was much influenced by Sue’s horticultural achievements and, on moving to Dumfries & Galloway in the southwest, I decided to create a garden. For this purpose, I was fortunate to possess, at the back of my house, a long, steep, rectangular stretch of grass with spectacular views over Luce Bay to the Galloway and Ayrshire hills.

I introduced a summerhouse and terracing made from local stone and constructed by local craftsmen. My intention was to make the space an extension of my writing and artistic life by including literary inscriptions painted on ceramic tiles (as I have done with a plaque, fixed to a wall, of Voltaire’s words from his novel, Candide, “Mais, il faut cultiver notre jardin”.

As finance permits, I will add more words to this space – either carved on wood and stone or engraved on glass. Among the plants, alongside the paths, on the gravel and beside the pond, I wish to develop the concrete poem so that it becomes an object within the garden setting.

 

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more.


Byron, Childe Harold (Canto IV stanza 178)