The Gardens, weeds & words podcast, Series 1 Episode 8

Words and gardens

with Sean Swallow

Social media can throw up the most wonderful connections. You might, for instance, be watching images of the most beautiful garden on the Welsh borders, when suddenly the garden owner begins to recite his own poetry. This happened to me and, having a fascination with the relationship between gardens, words and language, I asked Sean Swallow to appear on the podcast. In this episode we talk about his garden at Scatterford, his poetry, and the relationship between the two.

In this episode I’m wondering about the relationship between words and gardening – why might it be, for example, that so many famous literary figures chose to pen their greatest works at a desk in their garden shed? Perhaps they were seeking inspiration in the garden, or solitude – or maybe a mixture of both.

There’s no denying that words can be of great help to the gardener – from the humble list, to something altogether more uplifting, but when it comes to describing our experience of the natural world as it exists beyond our back doors, language can often seem less than adequate. So why do we still persist in trying?

I’m delighted to have had the company of garden designer and poet, Sean Swallow, to help me wrestle with these questions. You’ll have to listen to discover whether or not we came up with any answers in an interesting and often wide-ranging discussion, which took us all the way from his beautiful garden at Scatterford which he built together with landscape architects Askew Nelson, to the South Bank of the Thames, via an Arcadian glade.

I hope you enjoy this episode – please continue to share the podcast on social media, and if you’d really like to brighten my day, leave a review on iTunes or your podcast app of choice. Or drop me a note in the comments section below, having listened on the embedded player on this page.

Gardens, weeds and words podcast, S01E06 show notes

A blend of slow radio, gardening advice and conversation, and readings from the best garden and wildlife writing.

These notes may contain affiliate links. 

Garden soundtrack

Is there anything left to write about gardens?

The garden as a place of ideas

The garden as a place of activity – where ideas can flow.

Words as containers for thoughts and ideas

Interview with Sean Swallow

07:38 intro

07:56 from garden designer to poet

16:38 the garden at Scatterford

20:17 are gardens ineffable? Why do we bother trying to capture then in words

22:46 strong gardens

22:30 disruptive poets

23:40 thieving bumblebees. Carpenter bees stealing nectar by drilling through flowers

24:56 Death in the garden, Poussin’s Et in arcadia ego

29:40 Poems ‘strong enough to help’.
Seamus Heaney,
The Redress of Poetry

30:42 gardens reflecting the shape of thoughts

A short film of Sean, his work, and his garden

Sean’s garden at Scatterford on the NGS website

You can find Sean on the web at and Instagram

Further reading on writers and gardens:

The Writer’s Garden: how Gardens inspired our best-loved authors

Jackie Bennett





You can hear find the podcast trailer and the first four episodes here, either on iTunes or on Switcher.

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Hello! I’m Andrew, gardener, writer, photographer, and owner of a too-loud laugh, and I’m so pleased you’ve found your way to Gardens, weeds & words. You can read a more in-depth profile of me on the About page, or by clicking this image.