Hazel is the tree of wisdom and has the power to end creative blockages, so what more appropriate guardian of a poetry workshop? Today a gaggle of 12 poets delved into the folklore around hazel, visited some lovely hazels in the garden, listened to poems and, not least, munched on Nutella to gain inspiration. The aim was to find some kernels from which new poetry might grow, nuts of sensation – the rustle of the trees in the breeze, the soft velvet of their leaves, that warm chocolatey smoothness on the tongue – nuggets of wisdom or random association.
Hazel is a tree for travellers, as it is the best material for walking sticks (if a honeysuckle has corkscrewed up it, a hazel stick may make you invisible). Today’s group of poets included people from India, Ireland, Denmark and Greece, which seemed appropriate as the garden is full of trees from around the world, our native trees rubbing shoulders with their cousins from other countries. I hope some of the poets will share their writings on this site, by commenting on this post or the hazel page. It would be lovely to see what some of the poetic nuts found today grow into.
As well as its geographical diversity, the garden continues to thrill me with the vast sweep of time contained within its bounds. All the millennia of evolutionary history are here today, and the primordial forest draws me in, day after day. I have never felt so close to the deep past of this planet. This morning, in the ferns and fossils house, a stream trickled me back to an era, tens or hundreds of millions of years ago, when species of animals long extinct scuttled among tree ferns and giant horsetails. I also went to the amber exhibition at the National museum on Chamber’s St, where 30 million year old midges are trapped in the resin of ancient pine trees.