I’m writing to you from abroad now. I left St Leonards about 6 months ago as I really wanted to live in a hot place – I’m in the south of France, Marseille, following the publication of my book, ‘Gardens for the Future’. But Georgeo I just have to tell you how amazing my time in St Leonards was and I will never look back at that time at all. I particularly enjoyed wandering in the many gardens and parks and they have truly expanded since the dark days when there were few. I know there were always parks and gardens in and around St Leonards but they were small in comparison to what they became – huge parks and gardens to replace the many houses and other buildings. They took all the derelict land, waste land, building plots and spare spaces and gradually those green areas got bigger and bigger. It was the time when Transition Towns were rife and though Hastings had taken a back step in that direction for a while it was soon revived and then they came back in full force.
Anyway, I just want to tell you a little about the gardeners I met there and the elemental folk. You know, how I love to roam around as I am contemplating my next book, well these gardens were the perfect place.
It was one particular day when I was out collecting flower petals to put in my scent room at home. I was making a special blend of lavender and lily as a washing balm and room scent. I wandered into the old St Leonards Gardens and started asking each flower if I may take a petal or two and more than enough were willing. So I put them into my scent pocket and ambled around in my half dream state as if I was almost floating on air. I could tell that more than just a few of the elementals were around and soon they were showing themselves to me and whispering new ideas into my mind. I learnt many things about the garden in that way and they told me to bathe in the lavender and lily balm daily to relax fully but not to give it to others yet. They said I needed to work on the balm further to perfect its essence. Once I had found a formula that worked most favourably and powerfully I could then develop this enough to give to others.
I was then approached by one of the head gardeners, a tall woman with long blonde hair wafting in the wind and a brightly coloured hemp dress hand painted in tulips, daffodils and lilies. ‘Come dance!’ she beckoned me. ‘I see you are in need of revitalisation.’
‘Am I?’ I declared. I wasn’t sure.
‘You surely are, but it is up to you. Would you like to dance with us by the oak tree?’ I said I would, knowing that it was partly true. I had not exercised much of late. She took me over to the other gardeners who were all holding hands in a circle around the oak tree along with other garden visitors. The garden musicians were playing in the centre of us around the tree with their flutes, whistles and tablas. The music was mesmerising and ecstatic as we circled round and round the tree with petals and blessings thrown up to its branches as we danced. ‘Hey, Solarias what are you doing here?’ It was the boy, Luke, who had helped me move into the new hut. He came running up the path towards me in quite a desperate hurry.
I was disappointed to finish dancing but felt such urgency from Luke I went towards him. ‘I’m just collecting petals for a new essence Luke, but they asked me to dance. Why don’t you join us?’ Luke looked sullenly at the ground and I watched as tears floated down from his eyes and dripped off his nose. ‘No-one likes me in this town. I have no friends Solarias. I’ve given up. Why don’t they like me?’ I pulled Luke towards me and hugged him tightly. He was only 16 but seemed to struggle a lot with life. His mother had died when he was only 7 and his father had been away a lot. I’d taken him in at times but that was all I could manage. ‘Let’s sit by one of the trees Luke, see what it has to say. Would you like that?’ He nodded.
Sometimes people came to the garden when they couldn’t make friends easily. I told him trees always understood a person’s emotions even if not other things about our human lives. We chose a yew tree and sat close to its trunk. I put Luke’s hand to its bark. ‘Ask for its special energy Luke. Ask it to give you its blessings.’ He did this and soon felt more revived. ‘I’ll go and join the gardeners Solarias. I’ll become a gardener. What do you think of that?’
‘That’s a great idea Luke! Why don’t you talk to them now. See that woman dancing, she’s the head gardener, Lucy. She’ll be the one to talk to. Maybe life in the garden will give you new skills and ways of connecting with the fairy folk. They’ll help you make friends, I feel sure of it.’
Luke was gone a long time while I spent my time collecting petals from the ground and a few leaves to make another tincture. Autumn leaves are good for blessing a person with Autumn energy – time for settling down to the darker days of winter and preparing for inner reflection and inner growth. I realised Luke was entering a new phase of his life too where friends would be an important part of it. I knew the garden would help. I watched as the gardeners had got him dancing now and a subtle smile was emerging on his tear damp face.
There was another gardener here, Sam. I recognised him from his work at the Warrior Square gardens. ‘Hey Sam, I see you’ve moved!’ He approached me slowly, waving his Sombrero hat in the air. ‘Its a great garden here Solarias, real comradeship you know? We pray and bless every blade of grass, tree, flower, herb and plant every evening at sunset. We are here at sunrise blessing the day ahead and all who enter the garden. We dance three times a day and have our garden musicians playing almost all day long. We have feasts here and celebrations. All plant life is amazing here. Have you seen the new herb garden? And the vegetable plot is getting bigger all the time. We’re extending again next springtime to make an even bigger veg plot and orchard. Come, have a look!’
It was indeed amazing. Sam took me over to see the 2 acre orchard in the other field and the 5 acre vegetable plot. We helped ourselves to apples, pears and aubergines from the greenhouse. This food was able to feed a good proportion of St Leonards and had the finest qualities you could imagine. I could literally taste its high frequency energy. ‘Thanks Sam. I almost forgot about this!’ I always walked in the gardens, not the orchards and vegetable plots. I tended to buy my fruit and veg from the St Leonards market but most of it came from here anyway.
We departed company as I made my way back to the Oak tree to see where Luke had got to. He was laughing and playing with the other gardeners and appeared to have joined them already. Some of the gardeners were still children if they proved to have the special gifts of connecting to plant life. Luke ran up to me as he spied me approaching. ‘Thank you so much Solarias. I know what I must do now. They’ve let me join their team for a week to see how I feel. But I feel so much better already. Maybe I’ve been inside too much lately, I don’t know. I just get tired and lonely and fed up and then I just don’t go out. But if I was in the garden every day I think I’d feel better, I really do!’
Luke did become a gardener and a very good one too. He learnt to play the lute and became a garden musician eventually, but first he needed to connect to the plants and trees and they helped him make many friends there in the garden.
I just wanted to tell you all this Georgio because I think the way they run the St Leonards Gardens is so good, it should act as a fine example to other towns. Why don’t you have a look and see if they’ll do it where you live? And if you spend some days there yourself I’m sure you’ll be revived.
Well, please pop down and see me in the South of France some time as well and remember the garden Georgio – it was surely the best thing about St Leonards and the best place to go if you are ever feeling low.
Much love from Solarias