A Walk Through the Garden …
Thank you for joining me today
for a walk around the garden.
To Friend, Mentor, and Grandpa,
John Hall, at the Botanic Gardens, Belfast, c. 1960.
A quiet and gentle man, I never once saw him
leave the house without his pocket watch in his waistcoat,
and New Testament in his inside jacket pocket.
This meek man taught me the principles
of Edwardian Gardening, in which a garden
was gently established by nurturing the soil
using the hands and head (and well-rotted horse manure),
rather than the modern abomination
of dumping steroid-like chemicals
and noxious poisons into the soil
in order to provide a ‘quick fix’ for lazy people.
From him, I learned the importance of soil,
how to position and care for plants properly,
and the immense privilege that is to be found
in sharing the garden with the birds and animals
that come to visit.
My first ‘professional’ work was in 1969,
at the Botanic Gardens in Belfast,
where, as a little boy, I was charged
with the terribly important job of
removing the stones from the garden beds
outside the Tropical House.
I think of my grandpa
every time I step into a garden;
and feel the softness, and smell the aroma,
of friable garden soil.
Killinchy – our house that appears
in the centre of the photograph – fronting
onto the High Street, with orchard visible
at the rear of the house.