in the garden

Poetry Breakfast ~ at home


As we are unable to meet together for our Poetry Breakfasts, I invite you to join us for a virtual session instead.  So, with the help of Tim, Ali and Hilary, I will share ideas for poems, on the theme of each Poetry Breakfast already on our (now redundant) calendar, on a weekly basis.

Please add your ideas for poems into the comments box below. If you can’t find online versions to share, just tell us where you found your poem so we can look them up. Feel free to comment on any of the poems, or just simply add your own suggestions.

Sending you all much love!

Anna x

PS The next theme will be ‘Urban Beauty’

Our theme today is ‘In the garden’ – and what a richness of poems we have for you!  As Theo Dorgan says so beautifully:

There is a garden where our hearts converse,
At ease beside clear water, dreaming
A whole and perfect future for yourself,
Myself, our children and our friends.


~The Promised Garden’ by Theo Dorgan

Those of us lucky enough to be able to escape to our gardens just now are truly blessed, and I hope these poems will help all of us find the garden’s ‘fair quiet’, if only in our imagination.


We start with a poem from our Poet~at~Home (‘in residence’ feels a bit out of kilter given where we all are right now) Steve Harrison.  Steve has been bringing his poems to breakfast for several years now, and we all love them! I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Thanks, Steve.

If you would like a copy of the full text, please ask in the comments.

OUR GUEST POET ~ Thirza Clout

Thirza Clout grew up in Kent and Wales and now lives in Shropshire. Her first chap book, The Bone Seeker, was published by Mark Time Books UK in 2016 and is available directly from In May 2019 her second pamphlet, Aunts come armed with Welsh cakes, was published by Smith Doorstop, and chosen by Carol Ann Duffy in her Laureate’s Choice series. Thirza won the Poetry Prize at the Doolin Literary Festival in County Clare, and her poem Dandelions, see below, has been selected by Carol Ann Duffy for the Write where we are now project. Thirza is now studying for an MA in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.


I do not sheath my spotted hands in gloves
while teasing pallid veins up from the underworld
ground elder betrayed by livid shoots

after winter floods I drink down the blessing of the sun
trace and lift brittle yellow nets
capillaries to feed forbidden crowds of nettles

there is such pleasure to be found in forking through
winter-crusted earth and smelling the damper dark
pushing a steel prong deep down beside each rosette

I am tracing the routes of nurture
isolating before they can flaunt golden heads
before the wind can puff so many ticking clocks


19 April, in my garden under lockdown in Shropshire

Cottage garden

Let the creeping buttercups creep, let dandelion clocks
bloom unstopped, fresh green brambles root and spring
in graceful arcs, let bindweed conquer wigwams,
blaze luminous trumpets above the strangled beans.

How tired you are of kneeling down to gouge out
baby blue eyes of speedwells and families of forget-me nots,
how tired you are of slashing juicy stems of nettles, how tired
of digging deep, pulling out each forked root you do not want.

It’s autumn, Roman ground elder has woven a wormy mat
raised white-plumed standards unopposed. A vicious cycle
aches in your bones. Lick your tears, they taste of earth.

from The Bone Seeker

The best poem I know that’s directly about gardens and gardening is Kipling’s The Glory of the Garden. It’s technically more or less perfect in every way.


New Fruit by Ann Drysdale
from 10 Poems about Gardens published by Candlestick Press

Here’s another that’s beautifully put together, to be found in Candlestick Press Ten Poems about Gardens, and by the way I want to hear it read by someone with a voice like Eartha Kitt…


Ali’s choices:

Digging by Seamus Heaney from Death of a Naturalist, published by Faber & Faber

Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota
by James Wright

from Above the River: The Complete Poems and Selected Prose, published by the Wesleyan University Press.

Absence by Elizabeth Jennings

from Poem for the Day edited by Nicholas Albery & Sinclair-Stevenson, published by Vintage

Her Garden by Freda Downie in Sixty Women Poets edited by Linda France, published by Bloodaxe

Planting Crocuses with My Mother by Magi Gibson, from Modern Scottish Women Poets, edited by Dorothy McMillan and Michel Byrne, published by Canongate Classics (now out of print)

The Garden by Andrew Marvell 

The Promised Garden by Theo Dorgan from Poem for the Day edited by Nicholas Albery & Sinclair-Stevenson, published by Vintage


A call, by Seamus Heaney, from The Spirit Level, published by Faber

and also Lupins by Seamus Heaney, from Electric Light, published by Faber


And lastly, my choice is Windowbox by Angela McSeveney from Modern Scottish Poets published by Canongate Classics.


I do hope you have enjoyed your Poetry Brealfast ~ at home.  Please feel free to add poems, comments or suggestions in the comments box below.  Till next time …


  1. Miggy Scott

    Norman Nicholson (1914 – 1987)

    Some people are flower lovers.
    I’m a weed lover.

    Weeds don’t need planting in well-drained soil;
    They don’t ask for fertilizer or bits of rag to scare away birds.
    They come without invitation;
    And they don’t take the hint when you want them to go.
    Weeds are nobody’s guests;
    More like squatters.

    Coltsfoot laying claim to every new-dug clump of clay;
    Pearlwort scraping up a living from a ha’porth of mortar;
    Dandelions you daren’t pick or you know what will happen;
    Sour docks that make a first-rate poultice for nettle-stings;
    And flat-foot plantain in the back street,
    gathering more dust than the dustmen.

    Even the names are a folk-song:
    Fat hen, rat’s tail, cat’s ear, old men’s baccy and Stinking Billy
    Ring a prettier chime for me than honeysuckle or jasmine,
    And Sweet Cicely smells cleaner than Sweet William
    though she’s barred from the garden.

    And they have their uses, weeds.
    Think of the old, worked-out mines –
    Quarries and tunnels, earth scorched and scruffy,
    torn up railways, splintered sleepers,
    And a whole Sahara of grit and smother and cinders.

    But go in summer and where is all the clutter?
    For a new town has risen of a thousand towers,
    Sparkling like granite, swaying like larches,
    And every spiky belfry humming with a peal of bees.
    Rosebay willowherb:
    Only a weed!

    Flowers are for wrapping in cellophane to present as a bouquet;
    Flowers are for prize-arrangements in vases and silver tea-pots;
    Flowers are for plaiting into funeral wreaths.
    You can keep your flowers.
    Give me weeds!

    • Anna Dreda

      That’s fabulous Miggy, thank you! Isn’t there a saying that a weed is only a flower in the wrong place? I’ll add this to Urban Beauty this week, thanks.

      • Miggy Scott

        Thank you! I had this as a poetry poster in the loo when we had three young kids and an enormous Vicarage garden. I also had a great affection for Norman. I love David’s “Pulling up Weeds” poem too, from the same garden, especially his Ground Elder, linked in a mafia of underground handshakes, and being lifted like a jigsaw. Now its Cow Parsley time — this is her wedding day…. she knows where her strength lies..


    Thank you, Anna and all contributors. It was a delight to delve into this over my breakfast

    A poem I like which I think could creep into “Urban Beauty” is John Ormond’s “Cathedral Builders”

    Best wishes,

    • Anna Dreda

      Thank you so much Pat, I’l certainly add that to this week’s Poetry Breakfast, thank you.

  3. Philip Browning

    Hello Anna – the opportunity to browse through my poetry books with a topic in mind provides so many byways and delights.

    A Hot Day
    by A.S.J. Tessimond

    Cottonwool clouds loiter.
    A lawnmower, very far,
    Birrs. Then a bee comes
    To a crimson rose and softly,
    Defly and fatly crams
    A velvet body in.

    A tree, June-lazy, makes
    A tent of dim green light.
    Sunlight weaves in the leaves,
    Honey-light laced with leaf-light,
    Green interleaved with gold.
    Sunlight gathers its rays
    In sheaves, which the wind unweaves
    And then reweaves – the wind
    That puffs a smell of grass
    Through the heat-heavy, trembling
    Summer pool of air.

    • Anna Dreda

      What a lovely poem, Philip, thank you!

  4. Steve Harrison

    Thanks for the Kipling suggestion Tim , as you suggest the best poem on gardening in content and form .It’s been following me around the potting shed and veg. beds and makes me want to throw out all my plastic pots. I went to Batemans ,his house in Sussex last year and had an interesting debate with the NT guide who called him a self-made man !


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