Goodbye Logan

Fri 30Aug last Poet Tree2 Fri 30Aug last Poet Tree 1 Fri 30Aug last Poet Tree Poem Linda Eve DiamondI put the last Poem to Hang in a Walled Garden onto the Poet Tree, and took a few photos of it today.  Thank you Linda Eve Diamond.

Then Frances arrived from Scottish Poetry Library, and I began to realise that actually there were lots of people in the Garden who’d come to listen to our ‘Goodbye Garden Poet’ event.

In fact the room filled, and we fetched more chairs, and people perched on tables, and eventually stood.  But everyone passed along cups of tea, and trays of cakes and cream scones.  It was very friendly and informal, with a great turnout of my neighbours from Port Logan (who’ve been providing me with fresh veg and home-baking this month), several families, lots of staff from the garden, the shop and the cafe here at Logan, and some contributing poets who’d travelled to be here today – Nancy McGuffog and Rita Bradd.

creamsconesI shared as many poems as I decently felt we could in the time.  We enjoyed the Stepping Stones poem again (an enduring favourite), Isa from Eucador’s poem ‘Five Stars’, poems from the Gunnera Bog, poems from the lily pond, Nancy’s poem about the Wollemi Pine, Rita’s Poem to Hang in a Walled Garden and many more.

Thank you so much, everyone on the staff at Logan Botanic Garden, the SPL and RBGE for creating Walking With Poets, and all the many visitors who’ve made my month such a joy.

The Ghost of a Path

What's left of Logan Ladies Walk.  There are cobbles under the deep leaf litter.

What’s left of Logan Ladies Walk. There is stone-laid path under the deep leaf litter.

Today I went in search of the Ladies Walk.  Many moons ago,  the ladies of Logan House did go for strolls down through the woodland edge beyond the Garden, down to Port Logan, where there is still a stone bathing hut.  Here they put on their sturdy ankle-length bathing finery and paddled into the sea.  But what’s left of their path this August was impassable.  Within 25 yards of this photo, it was a mass of chest-high bracken and nettles.  Your correspondent was beaten back, breathless, covered in goosegrass, and lightly stung.  I know where the other end is though.  I have a draft poem underway.  Something like:

‘The Ladies step out neatly/ on the cobbles./ The dark leaf litter does not/ stain their handmade shoes./ Their shades are ankle-deep and brambles/ snag their hems, but they don’t stop./ Their voices cling to space between the trees.’

Needs work.

Poet Tree poem from Maria Theresa Maggi

Poet Tree poem from Maria Theresa Maggi

Here is the latest (perhaps last) poem to go on the Poet Tree.  Thank you Maria Theresa Maggi, from USA, who sent it to us.  And I thought I’d post a poem about the Poet Tree by one of our youngest Garden Poets this August, Matilda, aged 8.

The home of all the poems

with its twisty branches.

All the poems on the tree

are fluttering

in the breeze.

And I walked around the garden with lovely D&G poets Renita and Kriss, reading out our roughest drafts in search of pearls.  Which we found.  And sharing with them, and others, some of the many rich, funny, sad, subtle poems that Logan’s visitors have written in the last few weeks.

Back on Friday – my last day!

Of Ponds, and What Reflects Off Fish Scales

The pond with the boat with the water in it

The pond with the boat with the water in it

“The pond by the boat with the water in it,” said Joe (7).  It was the one he liked best.  He’d filled in (very fully) a Poetry Treasure Map of the garden, and was decided about what he was going to write about now he was back in the Poetry Yurt.  The boat did have water in it.  (There was rain last night.)

Joe working on his Logan Poetry Postcard

Joe working on his Logan Poetry Postcard



Here is Joe, hard at it.

Joe and his Poetry Postcard




And here, with his finished Logan Poetry Postcard.



Kate and the poem she grew from the Seed Poem Tray

Kate and the poem she grew from the Seed Poem Tray




Meantime, Joe’s sister Kate (9) was growing herself a poem from the Seed Poem Tray.  Here she is.  She wrote in the Visitors Book: ‘I really enjoyed playing with the words to make my  poem.  I feel very proud’.



Eilidh, who is 16 and about to start an A-level English course, described to me the places in the garden that she’d enjoyed most.  We talked quite a lot about ways she could turn her reminiscences into a poem – like whether to write it in the first person.

Eilidh and her poem

Eilidh and her poem

One of the things she’d said was a natural imperative, and in the end she went with that.  It’s a strong poem.

The eucalyptus tree’s white bark,
different from the other trees.
That cool one from the Andes
with filo pastry bark.

You’re interested in the woodland,
liked the viewpoint
with the canopy.  You don’t
know what you left there.

 Visit the lily pond at midnight.
There’ll be moonlight on the water,
reflections off the fish scales.
Something glimmers at the bottom.
Lean in.

Television, Seeds and Rarities

The BBC TV camera setting up

The BBC TV camera setting up

“No!  It’s not radio, this is telly today!” said Willie Johnstone, when I met him in the car park.  “Oh,” I said, just a little disconcerted.  He lugged a huge amount of equipment into the walled garden, and off we went.

“That was good.  Now let’s just do it again, from the top”.  He said this quite often and I think I said something different every time.  All will be revealed this Tuesday or Wednesday on Reporting Scotland at 6.30pm.  Well, not all, 3 hours filming effort will be 2 minutes perfectly formed reporting.  He was a pro.  I learnt things.

Among the moments Willie captured on film was a lovely bit of poem-making with Marilyn Crawford, visiting the garden with a party from Dumfriesshire today.  We were in the Yurt, so I invited her to choose some words from the Seed Poem Tray.  Marilyn is an artist, and was terribly taken with the idea of growing a poem.

Marilyn's words, picked out of the Seed Tray

Marilyn’s words, picked out of the Seed Tray

Here are her chosen words from the Seed Poem Tray. Then she told me why she’d chosen precisely these words, and I scribed.  Then we edited.  This is Marilyn’s poem.

The curve of stone is sculpture,
is stone.  I can’t pass
a stone without wanting
to put it in the car
and take it home.

Big leaf – that’s about texture,
a leaf with five fingers
that’s rough, with a name
that’s escaped.

Rain puts light on these things.

I shared poems with lots of visitors, including my tiny fuchsia poem, fortuitously, with a man whose grandfather bred the famous Mrs Popple variety.   Then I found a new poem left pegged up for me in the Yurt:  ‘The Wollemi Pine’.  It had yesterday’s date on it, and I had little hope of finding the poet (it said ‘Nancy, aged 72 minus 4 days’).  But then I did – she had come back again, and Caroline in the Cafe directed me to her.

Nancy McGuffog with her poem

Nancy McGuffog with her poem

Talking to Nancy McGuffog made a wonderful finish to my day.  Nancy grew up in Port Logan, and has lived here most of her life.  She has a real affection for the fantastically rare and precious Wollemi Pine.  (It was discovered only in 1994, in a remote grove in Australia.  There are thought to be fewer than 100 of them left in the wild.).  Nancy was at hand when this one was planted at Logan in 2007.  She told me she’s been visiting it ever since, bringing a tape measure with her for some time to be sure it was thriving.  Here is the beautiful Wollemi today, and here’s her poem.

The Wollemi Pine

The Wollemi Pine

I was here when it was planted –
the first outdoors in Scotland.
I’ve shrunk from 5’2″ to 4’10”, but
the pine has grown so tall.  I love it
so much.  So I’m not envious.

Very Small, and Dancing on the Lawns

25Aug plant Charlotte's Poem

Charlotte’s Poem

I did first position under the palms.

I danced on the lawns.

I did cartwheels and handstands

beside purple flowers

and danced again

on the stepping stones.

A time of sharing poems on one of Logan’s most flawless days so far.  And I think Charlotte is our youngest poet yet, at two and a half.  I knelt down and said, you tell me your poem, I’ll write it down.  No messing, this is precisely what she said.  The line endings are her natural pauses to think of the next one.  Her big sister Kate, (7), was entranced by the Gunnera.

Kate's Poem

Kate’s Poem

Like a Jurassic swamp

in the Gunnera –

I was excited.

Its stalks were thick

like tree branches

but spiked

like Stegasaurus.

Delightfully, I was later able to share these two poems with at least two different sets of older people, who enjoyed them enormously.  I also handed out these little books to write in today and towards the end of a busy afternoon reading and making poems, I sat on a grassy knoll and – always road-test your own ideas – wrote a short poem for the Very Big.

Writing the Very Big and the Very Small

Writing the Very Big and the Very Small

The wind, just now
is letting
the trees sing
in tall voices.
Eucalyptus leaves wink
like silver medals,
flick away 
the cooing woodpigeons.

and an even shorter one for the Very Small:

Dangled Fuchsia flower
skirted, whirling, red and white – 
this garden’s earrings.



From One Garden into Many Others

My truly lovely (birth)day in the Garden began with a soft grey walk in the morning, before the visitors, just listening to the muted sounds of gardeners at work.  Then I sat down near the Poet Tree, and made some notes for poem drafts I’m working on, breaking off every so often to chat to visitors as they arrived.  We read the Poet Tree together, and sometimes I read them more garden poems – some very well known and others written here at Logan this month.

The Bennetts writing poetry in the Yurt today.

The Bennetts writing poetry in the Yurt today.

Anne and Bill Bennett from Cumbria ended up sort of having  lunch with me, talking and reading poems together.  Then they came back to the Yurt and wrote some.  They  left us with sensitive lines like:

‘I see the lily pads at Logan
and my mind goes
to Givenchy.
You go into other gardens, that’s
what happens.’   Bill

The Bog, The Bog The Gunnera Bog

The Bog, The Bog
The Gunnera Bog


Then lovely Renita turned up, and fell hook, line and sinker for the Gunnera Bog.  We had terrific fun crawling into its depths, exploring the rest of the garden, reading the poems on the Poet Tree – and then retiring to the Yurt so Renita could write her barnstormer of a Bog Poem.  Click on it to make it bigger!

Renita under the Gunnera

Renita under the Gunnera

We read the Poet Tree

We read the Poet Tree

Renita inspired.

Renita inspired.

In a World Where Size Goes Wrong

'They may only find my bones...'

‘They may only find my bones…’

Two frisky fantastic kids bounded into the Poetry Yurt this afternoon.  They ran round reading lots of poems, and telling me about themselves.  Mum looked in so we took off all together to explore the Gunnera Bog.  Damian and Cheyenne squirmed into the core of the Gunnera, leaving a trail of shrieks.

When they came back to the Yurt they wrote poems about their experience on Logan Poetry Postcards.  Here’s an extract:

‘The leaves feel like sharkskin 

and I feel like Thumbelina’  Cheyenne


‘It’s a world where size goes wrong.

I was in a green tunnel.

They may only find my bones.’     Damian

Later I set off into the Garden, where I read poems to visitors, by the Poet Tree, by the beech hedge (while a sweet baby of 11 months cooed at flowers), by the Millstones and back at the Poetry Yurt…

A Book of Six Leaves

A Book of Six Leaves

I handed out some copies of ‘A Book of Six Leaves’ too, so people can make their own poems as they explore the garden.