Posted by: leafvigurs | November 9, 2015

Call of the Mountains

Gonz and buzzards2

The sun has already set and the light is fading from the sky when I hear the call of the buzzard, and to me it is the sound of the mountains.

It has been a beautiful day in the garden, surrounded by mature trees resplendent in their autumn colours. Bright pools of leaves collect at their feet, mirroring the reds, yellows and gold’s that shimmer above them.

I know that buzzards are becoming more common now and can be found in many habitats, but as a child growing up in Birmingham it was only on holiday in Wales that I saw them, and it is in the mountains there that I have had the good fortune to observe them up close. Once while approaching the summit of Cadair Idris in low cloud, one suddenly appeared out of the surrounding swirling mists and glided overhead so close I could hear the wind rush through its feathers. They are magnificent creatures full of power and a savage beauty and wherever I hear their cries I am instantly transported back to the mountains.

A while ago I heard an interview with Dan Pearson, a gardener I greatly respect and whose beautifully simple planting schemes have always inspired me. He spoke of an epiphany he had had in the mountains of Spain; walking from the foothills up to the snowline he observed “… plants growing in the wild in natural combinations and suddenly everything made sense”. Cadair Idris is a mountain I know well, my own route up it takes me through woodland and then a bog, before it finds the stone ridge that rises from the earth and carries me to its summit. From the tiny lichens and mosses to the ragged carpets of coarse golden grasses and the heather encrusted rocks that litter the landscape, it is a perfect palette with not a leaf out of place. When asked what he thought gardens are for Dan Pearson answered “I think gardens are a place of escape, and a place of immersion. They are somewhere you can be yourself completely, and provide you with tremendous freedom. It is the place I am happiest”. For me all of this is true of the mountains themselves, and it is the place I return to again and again whenever there is opportunity.

However I find the garden is a bridge between the home and the mountain and it is a place that I can tell a story, with plants and wood and stone; a painting I can never finish. It is hard as a gardener to be still in any garden, there is always too much to do. Yet I have become aware, ‘unfinished’ as they are how often I find myself gazing at all of ‘my’ gardens, and how much pleasure they give me, lost as I am in their journeys. It is both a surprise and a joy that through no fault of my own I am able to spend all my days outside.

In the garden the cries of the buzzard come from far overhead, sometimes if I look up I can see them soaring gracefully high above; at other times they remain obscured by cloud or trees. It is a sound that never fails to uplift me, awed as I am by the natural beauty of this world. It is a good place to be a gardener


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