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Mixed Borders: planting the seeds

Sarah Hesketh leads Mixed Borders students in some green-fingered writing exercises.

Sarah Hesketh leads Mixed Borders students in some green-fingered writing exercises.

The Poetry School and the London Parks and Gardens Trust have hybridised!

Between now and London Open Gardens Weekend (13-14 June 2015), seventeen poets (including two members of the Poetry School staff) will be running mini-residencies in some of the London gardens that take part in the annual LPGT scheme. There are city gardens and graveyards, wildlife gardens and stately home gardens … each of them will host a poet who will be looking for new work and audiences amongst the veg plots, orchards and flowerbeds.

Poet Sarah Hesketh manages the London Open Gardens weekend. This collaboration with the Poetry School – which we’re calling Mixed Borders – is the perfect way to combine her love of the horticultural and the poetical. Our first session saw us leading a residency training session (covering hostile audience awareness, spiky plant risk analysis, blank page minimisation strategies and all the other fun stuff) followed by an afternoon in the garden of the Jamyang Buddhist Centre in Kennington writing garden-themed poems in situ.

Over the next six weeks, we’ll be reporting on the poets’ progress, showing you their gardens, poems and projects. Meanwhile, here’s a sweet-smelling bouquet of all the participating poets’ favourite garden flowers: forget-me-nots, fuschia, rose, peony, freesia, medlar, pulmonaria, cornflower, cyclamen, honeysuckle, lavender, snowdrop, granny nightcaps, columbine, sweet williams.




  • Trevor

    The wild narcissus is being cross pollinated to such a degree with daffodils it is difficult now to find them in nature. You can get these lovely wild flowers and they go well beside water in a small garden. I do not like the Latin name however, it is : Narcissus pseudo narcissus. I have a few in my Somerset garden and know of only one spot in the Blackdown Hills where they grow (and I am not telling).

    Narcissus Flowers

    Down there by where the small stream flows
    It’s damp and shady too
    That’s where the wild Narcissus shows
    Its sunny yellow hue

    Its face looks down t’wards the ground
    Its leaves all look upright
    There bumble bees will buzz around
    Through dappled rays of light

    So seeming shy it flowers there
    Within the semi-shade
    Narcissus does not have a care
    Nor debts that must be paid

    Narcissus is a flower, that’s all,
    Within a habitat
    And sorrow does not come to call
    For flowers don’t feel that

    If pain and sorrow is in us
    We can’t externalise
    Plants aren’t a part of all our fuss
    In time we may be wise

    T.Morgan (from Tale of Aethelwulf, a work in progress)

  • Julia Bird (Poetry School Staff)

    Hah, that’s a no-nonsense Narcissus, thank you Trevor!

  • Trevor

    I just love the turn of the seasons and although not much of my work is botanical I like what you are attempting here. I do however write in quite unfashionable lyrical verse with even more heretical use of rhyme.
    Best wishes with this. I will not be able to get to London for the foreseeable future but look forward to reading about it.
    Here is another effort of mine:

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