Sunday, 7 February 2016

Invitation to gardens in winter

Invitation to gardens in winter
Pines from Mexico, with needles soft as feathers,
their cones as big as fat bananas all over the ground.
Scarlet cotoneaster berries, bright as sunshine,
hang above frosty shadowed corners.
There are plane trees, London planes as big as a city,
branches full of fruit against a startled blue sky.
Beside them we will watch the river rolling by.

We will sit on a bench in the slow morning sun
to share fresh apples and sandwiches of cheese and salad,
while we are watched by a pair of hopeful geese.
And you will see more trees than you can ever count.
Here are the tallest eucalyptus,
covered in the longest strips of subtle coloured bark
around twisted trunks, from lightest yellow to greenest dark.

I will tell you about the perfumes of heady wintersweet,
fragrant daphne, and all the honeyed scents of this season.
We’ll find oak, elm, cedar, Zelkova,
and the oldest oriental plane on the planet.
You can talk to me of this world of trees,
else how will I know their names and places,
whether they grow in valleys or wide open spaces.

And we’ll walk by grasses, tall in golden slanting sun,
where long shadows of bamboo stand out clear
against the wide spread of green lawns;
and dogwood stems stand proud in crowns of red.
Geese will shout their calls over the still frozen mere
and we’ll watch coots totter on ice, unsure of their ground, 
while we wonder at all the treasures that we have found.

As afternoon draws down its shades and the bitter cold lingers
we’ll take a turn in the Palm House to thaw our frozen fingers,
where we’ll drown in warm scents of tropical rainforest.
At the end we’ll aim for the café where temptation waited all day.
You know, you simply have to come to the gardens –
not just for all the trees, the grasses and the lake,
but without you, who else will I have to share the cake?

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