where may they ‘find my bones’?

'They may only find my bones...'

‘They may only find my bones…’

In August Jean Atkin met some awesome children – here’s two of them with poems more than suitable for the night that’s in it!

Frances, project manager

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.

Still walking …

Poems to Hang in a Walled Garden driftwoodFor four months this summer, four fine poets took up residencies at each of the four gardens of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.  I have had the great job of driving around Scotland to beautiful gardens working with interesting and lovely people.  And it’s not quite over!

On 28 November a celebration of the project is being held in Edinburgh at the RBGE.  Full details can be found using this link at eventbrite – join us if you can!

Between now and then, our online celebration begins with a reprise of blogs and poems from Gerry when in Dawyck, Jean in Logan during August, Mandy’s month in Edinburgh and Sue’s June at Benmore.  Relive summer 2013!

Here are two short poems from the anthology Sue Butler created to celebrate the glorious redwoods at Benmore –

Redwood Avenue at Benmore Garden

Redwood Avenue at Benmore Garden

Sad trees by Rosemary Owen, Glasgow
Puck’s Hut:
A beacon in the distance.
Trees dance to the melancholy of the wind
As I descend.

Untitled and anonymous
Tall, tall trees
with green, green leaves
are nature’s key.
This I now see.

Project Manager

That which was broken

A small, exquisite and fragile artwork arrived at Dawyck, sent from Finland by the artist Hannele Rantala. She writes: “Inside of this package should be an egg. It was once broken, but I made it as new as I possibly could. Somehow it is not, after my restoration, as good as new. Something very big is missing. . . . find a peaceful place for this broken (but repaired!) thing to rest.”

Fragility, ephemerality, trust, wisdom and art are what Hannele sent.

So: Hannele Rantala, with Morven Gregor‘s photography, Dawyck Botanic Gardens & my suggestions:









I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong.


Morven Gregor’s Guest blog

Walking with Wilson & Wang Wei

Plant hunter Ernest “Chinese” Wilson (1876 – 1930) built his reputation gathering plant specimens from across China and bringing them to the UK. Many of the specimens he planted thrive in Dawyck today.

Wang Wei (701 – 761) was a poet, painter and writer on painting. He is credited as being the first Chinese pure landscape painter. His work became a model for future generations.

At Dawyck in the 21st century, we walked among Wilson’s now mature plants and landscape that was animated by Wang Wei’s poems.




a burn of light

Autumn renga composed at Dawyck Botanic Garden, September 30th, 2013
by Colin Will, Gerry Loose, Morven Gregor, Stewart Keith, and with an opening verse by Taneda Santoka.


I sit down

in the midst of

my local dialect

                grey cloud threatening

                shining ceramic

a burn of light


ten thousand leaves

                is that the tree

                that smells like toffee?

parachuting spider

do you care

where you’ll end?

                freewheeling Dylan in Dawyck

                no hard rains after all

I’ll give you

the big half

of the apple pie

                fattening fruit

                the grower eyes each one

tea from the terraces

green on green

fold on fold

                coorying in

                wool blankets and rum

home comforts

out the window

on a starless night

                drinking until dawn

                a hint of hyacinths




Knitting Indra’s Net

Maybe there is no link between knitting and poetry. My mother knitted all her life, all through my childhood. Socks, jumpers, scarves. As a small child, I had a pair of knitted swimming trunks. Hats, including those I tried to throw away, but were always retrieved.

Maybe I’m simply trying to reconnect with someone, something gone. Call it Proustian, tenuous, even foolish, but I wanted to speak to the women who make up a knitting circle here and try for a connection.

We talked about pattern and words. One woman had a Shetland uncle who also knitted all his life. They told me the stories of Aran jumpers having family patterns, and the same for Shetland families. We talked of samplers; we talked of the need for thrift and the warmth of hand knitted clothes.

Maybe it was that warmth I was after. It certainly came from the women and from their talk. It came closest to poetry with their needles moving. Words, however, knitted into something, were elusive, until our host showed me what her godmother had recently knitted and that she was just now putting a backing on. It was a delicate, white on white knitted near-sampler, with what I guess to be her own and her god-daughter’s initials. For me, a link; and to warmth; a knot in family life. A poem.


Tom Leonard writes eloquently, gracefully and in a moving way:

                   In Hospital

I like seeing nurse frieda knitting

as I like watching my wife knitting

as I liked watching my mother knitting

though she was more of a dabber

(plain and purl, plain and purl)

it’s not

“women being in their place”

or knitting the chains that keep them down


the future, knitting the future

the present peaceful, quiet

as if

the same woman knitting

for a thousand years




And the knit link between Dawyck Botanic Gardens, mothers, wool and poetic form is Morven Gregor’s work after Angus McPhee, knit with long grasses:

3.After Angus McPhee


In such an arboretum as Dawyck, there are many birds. The most obvious are the slightly foolish pheasants, creeping around all the paths and grasses, as if invisible. Their yells and clockwork flight when they feel they have been seen are fun. Buzzards of course, wheeling above and mewling. Tree-creepers, goldcrests, tits, finches of all sorts. Evidence of woodpeckers. These enormous firs, pines and spruces provide ample cover. Herons on Scrape Burn too,

We spent a happy morning introducing cranes to Dawyck. Although conservationists and ecologists get very nervous about the introduction of alien species, we were blatant. They seem to thrive, but may not be true breeding pairs.






Each crane, however, is the carrier of a poem.