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.


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