The Lost Gardeners of Heligan (ctd:)

I should probably have called this posting further travails or further adventures – or something of that nature because we were woken in the middle of the night by the sound of the heater powering down and an acrid smell. Generally speaking this is a bad sign, but when we woke up freezing cold and discovered there was just one warm place – under the bed where the batteries are situated – it became a different kind of bad news.  Exploding lead acid batteries under the bed are best avoided, and half of today was spent with me trying to fit into extremely confined spaces with a multimeter and Googling to see who or what might be able to help. After a endless amount of deliberation we decided that the knackered batteries had deteriorated to the point where they had partially shorted and kept calling for more current from the charger, thereby heating them up until I pressed the off button on the charger – which turned the camper van into a tin tent – which, in turn,  is why I am typing this in the dark, wearing a head torch and three jumpers. We’ll replace the batteries first thing tomorrow. More money – aaaagh

Meanwhile we managed a walk around Heligan and there are some photos above. The reason I called this post the “Lost Gardeners of Heligan” is that there are little memorials to the mostly young gardeners who died in the First World War all over the place, each accompanied by a flower display or arrangement. It’s very affecting, and of course the reason the gardens were abandoned was that so many were killed, there were no longer enough workers to keep the gardens going.  The then owner was too affected by grief and memories to live here any longer, and moved away.

Strangely there’s no sense of melancholy around, especially on such a sunny day when even the icy northwesterly wind couldn’t dampen our spirits. Plants are never more perfect than when they’re first emerging.  They spring from the earth untouched by insects and diseases and full of vigour. It can be tricky identifying them from their new leaves, but we get better at it. Todays crop of fungi and bryophytes was a good reason for getting a bit more knowledgeable about them. They just carry on continuously all year round so there’s always something to look for. But the primroses, dandelions, snowdrops and daffodils somehow seemed just a bit more beautiful than the camellias in the formal gardens. Spring is coming – you can smell it!

 

 

 

 

Author: Dave Pole

I've spent my life doing a lot of things, all of them interesting and many of them great fun. When most people see my CV they probably think I'm making things up because it includes being a rather bad welder and engineering dogsbody, a potter, a groundsman and bus driver. I taught in a prison and in one of those ghastly old mental institutions as an art therapist and I spent ten years as a community artist. I was one of the founding members of Spike Island, which began life as Artspace Bristol. ! wrote a column for Bristol Evening Post (I got sacked three times, in which I take some pride) and I worked in local and network radio and then finally became an Anglican parish priest for 25 years, retiring at 68 when I realised that the institutional church and me were on different paths. What interests me? It would be easier to list what doesn't, but I love cooking and baking with our home grown ingredients. I'm fascinated by botany and wildlife in general, and botanical illustration. We have a camper van that takes us to the wild places, we love walking, especially in the hills, and we take too many photographs. But what really animates me is the question "what does it mean to be human?". I've spent my life exploring it in every possible way and the answer is ..... well, today it's sitting in the van in the rain and looking across Ramsey Sound towards Ramsey Island. But it might as easily be digging potatoes or making pickle, singing or finding an orchid or just sitting. But it sure as hell doesn't mean getting a promotion, beasting your co-workers or being obsequious to power, which ensured that my rise to greatness in the Church of England flatlined 30 years ago after about 2 days. But I'm still here and still searching for that elusive sweet spot, and I don't have to please anyone any more. Over the last 50 or so years we've had a succession of gardens, some more like wildernesses when we were both working full-time, but now we're back in the game with our two allotments in Bath.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.