Friday, July 16, 2010

We had a good walk, and were very lucky with the weather. There was serious rain from time to time, but it fell while we were in the car, or having coffee in a nice place in Gullane, or, at worst, walking through trees. We drove west of Edinburgh to Yellowcraig and walked perhaps five or six miles in all, along the beach and back along the dunes. All rather wonderful.

I was too tired last night, in a thoroughly nice sort of way, to get much knitting done. The back of the Green Granite Blocks is finished – indeed, I’ve gone a row too far – but not finished off.


I ordered some “walking onions” from an eBay seller yesterday – all your fault, Mary Lou. I’m going to try them in the part of the garden fully exposed to rabbits (and thus well away from the strawberries). There are plenty of rabbits about, but they are, for whatever reason, leaving me alone this year. I had hoped maybe parsnips and perpetual spinach would both be safe, and so far both of them are. Plus some spicy salad leaves. By nature? or because the rabbits have declared an amnesty? We will see whether walking onions can be added to the list.

We have occasionally bought books after learning of the author’s existence from his or her obituary, and did so again last week, Geoffrey Dutton’s “Some Branches Against the Sky”. It arrived yesterday, and has been set aside for thorough reading in Strathardle.

Dutton was Australian to begin with, and his distinction was in biomedical research, but the interest of the book to us was that it described his “natural garden” -- not the same thing as a wild garden, apparently – somewhere “north of Blairgowrie”.

The Telegraph obituary said that he kept the precise location of the garden secret, but you can’t really do that in the Age of Google, and I’m pretty sure I’ve found it, just above Bleeton Hallet on that rather scary road from the A93 to Alyth. Not in Strathardle itself, but well within our orbit. We might have known him, were we more inclined to scrub up and go about in society.

He was a writer -- a poet, indeed – as well as a scientist and a gardener. The book promises very well. His approach to gardening sounds much like my husband’s. He deplored improving the soil – it only encourages weeds. I wonder what has happened to the garden. I learn, from dipping into the book, that a natural garden can be recovered from neglect fairly easily. And its outlines would surely survive for years.

Still, you can’t grow vegetables that way. It was Mrs Duthie of Bleeton Hallet who told me, at the Games one year, that rabbits don’t like broad beans. I wouldn’t have believed a lesser expert, but she’s right. I’ve been growing them fully exposed to rabbits for a decade now.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, you would have the location of Geoff's garden about right I would think. He was an Adelaide man and one of the prime architects of Writers' Week, now a part of every Festival of Arts here. My father knew him well. They went to university together. He also had a small beach house ('shack') on Kangaroo Island when we lived there and would call in to see my father so that they could talk books!