Monday, 23 June 2008

A Nice Green Leaf: New (half)-year's resolutions

519vmea35l_ss500_By Emma Townshend

With the Solstice fast approaching I had to drive down to Somerset to see a man about a bit of Japanese topiary. Stonehenge was coned off with all visitors being funnelled into enormous car parks west of the site to try to impose some order on chaos, as people arrived to celebrate the arrival of the longest day.

Driving past the huge stones made me think of the book I'm reading at the moment. In The Morville Hours, Katherine Swift describes her careful watching of the movements of the sun through her garden:

"I didn't know yet what form the garden would take, but I had an atavistic desire for the extremes of midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset...

...I wanted the garden to reflect the sweep of the year, the lengthening and shortening of the shadows, the turning wheel of the stars. I wanted to mark where the midsummer sun rose and set - the azimuth, where the apparent orbit of the sun bisects the horizon - describing in the course of the day a great arc from the trees north-west of the school house right round to the barn north-west of the big chestnut."

Driving back from my topiary rendez-vous, I formed two resolutions for the post-solstice half of the year.  Number one, try out some cloud-clipping. And number two, find a way of having a personal Stonehenge in my garden.

Swift got to know exactly where the sun would rise and set in her garden, by just being out there and seeing. She describes marking the point where the midwinter sun would rise, and then watching it inch back week by week.

All the rain might be a problem but in the long-term I definitely want to start thinking about how to create my very own garden temple to the sun. It's a really momentous day in the calendar, especially for gardeners and SAD sufferers. I think marking the day properly is something I ought to do, and I think the idea of doing it in your own garden - rather than having to drive to Stonehenge - is really lovely.

Has any one else got any grandiose Henge-building-type aspirations for 2008 Part II?

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