Friends in my Garden: Daisy, Coriander and Free Spirit

This past week I’ve been thinking about friends and family. How some people stay with us all our lives, but others, no matter how much we care about them, move on and we loose contact with them.

When I wrote and published Friends in my Garden, the people in these poems were some of the friends I saw often enough that we could easily slot back into that relationship where the months and years don’t matter. Sadly, I have lost touch completely with Coriander and Free Spirit. Daisy is still around, somewhere, but I haven’t seen her for too long.

If you know where they are, I’d love to receive a message, perhaps a comment at the end of this posting.

When any of my poems apply to a friend or family member of yours, please feel free to pass them on. Friends in my Garden is meant for all of you who read my words and the poems are for you to share with your garden of friends.


She is my daisy

with face always smiling

and petals of pink or yellow or blue

popping up

wherever I need

a splash of colour

and warmth and fun,

I know she’ll be there

to cheer my heart

and nurture my soul.



Coriander reigns in my herb patch.

He’s quiet and a trifle contrary

tends to disappear when confronted.

Dreaming up dishes

tempting and delicious

his feathery appearance

adds a touch of artistry.

Friends regard him as

a culinary wonder.



Chirping, laughing

smile bubbles bursting

in she flies

a flurry of welcome

her visit a sparkling surprise,

tales of the past are recounted

and fantasy flights foretold.

Autumn leaves tumble

She’ll soon fly away

conquering oceans

and capturing hearts

for her spirit is joyous and free.



Harlow Carr Gardens near Harrogate UK

A very happy me at Harlow Carr Gardens, one of my favourites.

Leaving York on the 4th of June, we were excited to be on our way to the beautiful Lakes District, with a stop at Harlow Carr Gardens. Our hire car from Hertz was a very comfortable Mercedes. Susanne did most of the driving while I navigated. When making the booking, back in Australia in March, I had requested a navigation system with the car, but for some inexplicable reason, none was available from the York depot. Google served the purpose, as we only needed to take a small diversion from the main route, from York to Ambleside, in order to visit one of my favourite gardens in the world.










Harlow Carr Gardens is one of the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens in the UK, situated near Harrogate in Yorkshire. This was my third visit and, as on each occasion, a breath taking delight. Having my sister, Susanne, an equally keen gardener, with me, made it even more enjoyable as we dashed from one spectacular panorama to the next, with about a thousand stops on the way to capture a vista or the details of a single flower on camera.


Flooded on my previous visit.

On my previous visit much of the lower section of the garden was ankle deep in water and the only working toilets were those inside the cafe, so this time I was delighted to find that the weather was perfect, a bit chilly, but with clear skies and just the right light for taking photos.



Entrance is next to the tearooms. Betty’s Tearooms are well known in the area and we made a note to partake of their goodies later.

This was one of the gardens we could see without paying as it’s included in RHS membership  which we had organised from Perth in order to visit the Chelsea Flower Show. I’m sure the volunteer behind the counter must see loads of enthusiastic gardeners each day, but our smiles were enough to gladden her heart too as she welcomed us and loaded us up with pamphlets.





Once outside in the garden, these are some of the hundreds of photos we took.







Susanne loves getting in close, taking photos of the finer details in flowers, so I couldn’t resist this shot of her at work.


Here are some of those detailed images of hers.






The rhododendrons here are laden with luscious blooms















If you’ve followed us this far you are probably also a keen gardener and can appreciate the joy we felt in walking around this stunning place. Unfortunately I don’t know the names of many of the plants, largely because we can’t grow them in Western Australia. From small bell shaped flowers, to the weird trumpet varieties and sculptural cones on conifers, we often captured similar images so I’m lucky to have Susanne’s photos as well as mine to select from.




We had reached the back end of the garden when a misty rain started to fall, providing me with this final image.



The cafe and tearooms were crowded by the time we made our way back across the garden but the short wait for a table by the window was worth it and my seafood salad was delicious. Betty is famous for her scones with jam and cream so we were compelled to share one serve between us, with of course a nice cup of tea (peppermint for me and English Breakfast for Susanne.) Thus fortified we couldn’t leave without a visit to the shop. I love to bring back small and useful souvenirs, so my tea towels and cups are often happy reminders of garden tours. This time I found a  table cloth, decorated with English meadow flowers, perfect for summer lunch parties.



York England 2016: Day Two

Our travel editor for the West Australian newspaper, Stephen Scourfield, wrote about touring around England in last Saturday’s travel lift-out. I feel that I could qualify for having similar tales published, particularly with all that we saw and did in York last year.

Stephen even mentioned the squirrels – see the little fellow that we met, along with pigeons (or are they doves? I never know the difference.

One of the things I love about England is the abundance of parks and the fact that they are well cared for, with  well-placed trees and clusters of shrubs and flowers, especially when you arrive in spring, as we did.






The Museum Gardens are situated about two minutes walk from our accommodation and are the most direct route to the centre of town, so, whenever possible (the gates are closed every night) we walked through it, coming out at Museum St on the other side.









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Spring in the Hills

Spring is here again, and my camera has been busy, so today, instead of York in England, I have to write about my garden in Glen Forrest.



The view from my bedroom, into a private courtyard which is now finished, is already a delight and in a few weeks, when everything blossoms, it will be heavenly. From my study, where I write these blog posts as well as my short stories, poems  and the latest novel (about halfway there), I am inspired by nature, which often includes a friendly goanna and lots of birds.

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Friends In My Garden: Hyacinth and Peony

Life has been hectic for the last few weeks, hence my lack of postings on this site. I am keen to return to the travel tales from England but for today, I hope to please those of you who enjoy my poems, especially those from my first book, ‘Friends In My Garden.’

Hyacinth was written for a friend who lost her daughter in tragic circumstances. It was the kind of situation from which a mother would never totally recover but this lady was/is always graceful and composed. Whenever I read this poem I think of her with love and admiration.

If you know someone who bravely bares a tragic loss, you might like to share this poem with them.


Hyacinth is a fragile flower

sometimes seeming aloof

in her need for seclusion.

The colours of her petals change

from purple on the sad days

to whitely unobtrusive

when she’s hiding from the world

or palest blue

in times of her remembering.

For the memory and the loss

will always remain

despite her efforts to hide the pain.

The image she presents

of calmness and restraint

is it a facade?

I think I hear her crying

in the emptiness of night

when she’s alone with her sorrow.

She’s determined to not falter

but I should remember

to tend more often

and with more care

my saddened, delicate hyacinth.


Peony was written for another brave lady. Sadly she didn’t manage to overcome cancer, but she always looked elegant and despite her condition, she was determined to live life to the full. I only really had one meeting with her but was so impressed that I sat down as soon as she left and composed this poem in her honour.

‘Friends In My Garden’ was published in 1995. Sadly, my Peony died about a year later, but I still think of her. It’s a sad poem, but I wanted to express my admiration for her determination and for the joy she radiated, despite the suffering she must have endured. I hope that my words give comfort and encouragement to others who are facing serious illness.


This morning there appeared

a flower I’ve not seen before,

a peony.

The climate here is harsh

for so delicate a plant

but to see her blooming

you’d not be aware

of her struggle for survival.


blossoms in profusion,

the image she presents.

I know she lost her petals

felt her trunk grow weak

but sun gave her warmth

rain fell softly on her leaves

the one who cares

for flowers and trees

nourished her with love

and hence


she came to grace my garden.




UK: Chelsea Flower Show People

Every year they wear these coats , bought many years ago.


Fancy dress for the occasion.











Co-ordinated in stripes.

As promised, I have some interesting characters to show you this week. I think gardeners must be a particular breed, often rather eccentric, especially the English variety and we found several of them at the Chelsea Flower Show last year. I have Susanne to thank for most of these photos.

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UK 2016: Chelsea Flower Show

When planning our cruise down the Dalmatian Coast and parts of Italy, I allowed for a few days in Paris, (which I hope you  have enjoyed reading about) but we had to be in England in time for the Chelsea Flower Show. I think this was my fifth visit and it was my sister’s second, but it’s always different, always a day of bliss for me and for any gardeners from anywhere in the world. Susanne and I took over a thousand photos each, so I’ll have to do this in sections, selecting a few of my favourites to share with you.

Brilliant colour was the first thing that wowed us as we entered the huge tent full of prize winning entries. Aren’t these stunning?

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Friends In My Garden: Butterfly and Magnolia

Today I’m in the mood for poetry so I’ve gone to my book, Friends In My Garden for a selection. Two very different characters, but both written for women who inspired me and brought joy into my life.

Butterfly is the sort of friend who pops in with chocolates and champagne when you’re feeling down. Her smile and her laughter brighten any space when she appears. I hope you have several butterflies in your friendship garden and I’d love you to share my words with them.


There’s a butterfly

happiness yellow

in my friendship garden.

A ray of sunshine

spreading warmth whenever she appears

always bubbling full of fun and laughter

that bounces


I love her sparkle

her cheek

her zing.

When friends are down

in she whirls

a glow of yellow

to brighten our hearts.


Magnolia was written for the sort of woman who rises to the top in her field. She’s a leader who others want to follow. Please send this to the Magnolias in your friendship garden.


Magnolia has an air of grandeur.

She’s courageous

and tenacious

with a heart as soft as moss.

Occasional bouts of jealousy

are sparked by lesser plants

weeds that endeavour to starve

or choke this lovely tree.

In stately manner

she disdains their poisonous pettiness.

Others are inspired by her,

the elegant stance

the leaves

rich and glossy

the brilliance of her flowers

creamy white

and luscious.

I think she’s quite magnificent.



Friends In My Garden: Oak and A Time For Tears

The following poems were written for  a man I once thought was the centre of my universe. It’s almost nineteen years since I shed those tears and I’ve found new, strong and lasting love. This post is for those of you who think that your life ends with the loss of one love. It changes and you change but it can get better. You just have to pick up the pieces (probably best to discard the not so good ones) and face life again. As usual, please pass one or both of these on to anyone you think might like to read it/them.


Rooted firmly in the ground

my oak

is tall and strong

protecting creatures

that snuggle into his trunk

and hide in his leaves.

Wide he spreads his branches

and so high

his canopy is sometimes in the clouds.

I sit in his shade

and lean on him.

His bigness can be overwhelming,

too long in his shadow

I shrink and fade

then I need to walk in the sun



knowing he is there

in the centre of my garden.



Flowing like a waterfall

these tears I shed for you.

At night I wake to wrenching sobs

my pillow wet

my soul bereft;

I want to sleep forever.


Do you cry too?

Does guilt grip you with remorse

for leaving me

for what you too have lost?


Perhaps one day

my heart will mend

my tears no longer fall.

One day I might not

think of you with sadness

but after forty years

I know there’ll never come a time

when I can say

‘I don’t love you anymore.’

Friends In My Garden: Exotic Bird

I hope that many of you have at least one person in your life who fits this image of a good friend. Mine has been a bit off colour lately so this is a tribute to her, to remind her how much I appreciate her.

Please feel free to send this poem on to the exotic bird(s) in your garden of friends. My words are free for you all to enjoy and share. If you would like to leave me a comment that would be great, thank you.


Exotic is my little bird

gorgeous her plumage

of brilliant emerald

and sapphire

and the richest ruby red.

She’s something of a loner

rather shy

and quiet until she sings,

then she leads the chorus.

Her voice fills my garden

with the sound of crystal music.

I love to sit and listen

not only to her song

her words are never wrong.

We share a tranquil moment

rest for a while on a bench

chat about friends and daily affairs.

A peck on my cheek

a feathery wave

and she flies home to her nest.