Archive Photos

Selected Sentences on Gardening

The following sentences and photographs are extracts from an ongoing monthly diary of activities in the garden at Little Sparta. They record seasonal changes, regular maintenance work, necessary renovations or renewals and occasional unexpected happenings. There is a preoccupation, as for all gardeners, with the weather – its very unpredictability and the changes it effects.

George Gilliland
Head gardener



“The weather has shifted from unseasonably mild at the start of the month to a more familiar cold as first snows and heavy frosts take hold. The days are bright, the sunlight sharp and low.”


“Snowdrops and aconites are flowering bringing bright little bursts of colour all around the garden and woodland and are a delight to see.”



“It seems extraordinary that a month which ends basking in bright blue skies and unexpected warm bright sunshine began in snow and freezing cold with everything muffled in dense white fog.”

“Ever more spring green is apparent – snowdrops continue in abundance, crocuses and daffodils now pushing through – though it will be a while yet before they are fully flowering.”


“The leak in the pond in the Parkland keeps recurring – the water wants to retrace its original course, but the problem area is now clearly identified and another application of magic mud should seal up the gaps.”


“There is colour now from hazel catkins, the daffodils are in abundance, flowering current and pussy willow, cherry and plum – everywhere the buds are filling out and ready to burst into new green leaf.”


“We are fully immersed in springtime – the light and colours of the garden change and freshen. Seasonal jobs start to stack up as new growth emerges.”


“All of the artworks have now been unwrapped or brought out of storage and are back out in place – it is one of the most pleasurable adjustments of the garden to encounter its structure and composition again.”


“The tree canopy closes over, the garden is enclosed in green dappled light. For the most part it has been a mild month, bringing lots of vigorous new growth.”


“The long task of cleaning all the artworks was begun, then brought to a halt (for risk of frosts), by a brief cold snap early in the month, but was completed soon after.”


“A family of ducklings on the lochan have been nesting by the sunken column in amongst the flag iris. It is a pleasure to see them in their family group as they familiarise themselves with their new surroundings – but they soon fledge and depart.”

“Early orchid blooms have appeared on the hillside by the boundary fence, and by the base of the hedge in Huff Lane. They seem more prolific this year so perhaps have taken a liking to conditions here.”


“Cupid’s arrow has been replaced in the woodland garden – the original too out of scale and damaged – a new missile now pierces the mossy bark of the tree where it landed.”

“It has been a very unsettled month as far as the weather goes. The atmosphere is very close, the air warm and claggy with yet more rain – a disappointment as a season.”


“There are ongoing repairs to the top, middle and Artemis pools to keep them running – though water is still escaping somewhere underneath bypassing the system…”

“In the early mornings now we are greeted by the sight of lots of little cobwebs – silvery dew laden hammocks – stretched out between the spiky branches of gorse.”


“The soundtrack to our days now is filled with the gabbling and honking from skeins of geese as they pass overhead in V-shaped formations, patterning the mostly ever-greying skies.”

“In the Hortus overhanging branches from outside are cut back and the fruit trees inside pruned back into shape – herbs are cut back in the parterre beds.”


“It remains a very busy month, as the artworks are first given a quick clean, and when at last the wet weather relents, all of the pieces are either covered or brought into storage for the winter.”

“The pattern of days is now marked by ever changing colours – the leaves, the hills, the skies, the waters darken. A definite shift in seasons turning.”


“Preparations are now being made for winter with the first hard frosts more frequent. There is still a general round of clearing leaves – and another area too cleared for collecting and storing leaf mould.”

“The main preoccupation this month though has been starting to lay new stone paths around the very worn sections of compacted grass pathways in the woodland.”


“The curving serpentine walkway of blackcurrants in the middle of the Parkland has been remade – 40 new bare-root plants have been put in place. These fresh juvenile plants should quickly fill out and improve this feature next season.”

“All is tidied away and the garden is finished for the year. It rests in a still quiet air.”



> Read the full gardener’s diaries


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