Words and gardens
with Sean Swallow
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.
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
07:56 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 https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=14120
24:56 Death in the garden, Poussin’s Et in arcadia ego https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Et_in_Arcadia_ego
29:40 Poems ‘strong enough to help’.
Seamus Heaney, The Redress of Poetry https://www.seamusheaney.com/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 http://www.seanswallow.net and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/sean_swallow/
Further reading on writers and gardens:
The Writer’s Garden: how Gardens inspired our best-loved authors
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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.