Reading up on garden design, trying to penetrate its secrets; I come across the quote by Alain Idoux- ‘a garden begins with stone’. How beautiful. I like the stone of the area. You see it exposed and raw round the still standing 19th century mineshafts – the promise of gold never too far away. More than that I want to earth the old schoolmasters’ house – to connect it to the soil, the rocks.
The house used to belong to a stone carver- and I‘ve turned up many fragments and sculptures clearing the land of weeds and rubble. Like clues in a treasure map left behind they become part of the newly shaped garden. A carved stone face is laid in the slate path. A tiny winking cats face is found, and then lost again.
When I was a little girl, I used to make elaborate sand castles with my Dad- one of my favourite things to do. When we started, he would always say “ First, clear your ground”. Sometimes when approaching the start of a creative project- that phrase will come to mind – it’s a way in, a way to get going.
Robert, from the village used to work in the gold mines. He’s been helping clear the block- leveling it with his back hoe. He reveals a surprising talent for stone work . He understands how rocks fit together & knows where to find them. We discuss different varieties of moss like we are talking about fine wines. It’s decided he will make a dry stone wall bordering the cottage garden out the front, connecting it to the bush rocks under the old apple tree.
Russell comes to help him and brings his beautiful dog Flash, who seems to understand exactly what is going on. Working out how to shape the wall, I’m thinking of a sweeping curve- but we end up going Robert’s way; the simplest, the most practical. It’s good, natural. I think most things built or made by hand have that sense of rightness. The eye and the hand connect. No intermediary like a computer to interrupt the flow.