Two weeks go by

29 May 2017
Ben Pentreath

I realise a couple of weeks have passed since I last wrote; it’s Monday evening, at the end of a quiet Bank Holiday, and I’m on the late train back up to London as I’ve got an early start in the morning. Do you know that funny feeling you get, after three days off, when you can’t quite remember the small details of what happened in the last two weeks?  Work has been pretty intense, with some big deadlines. But they were all delivered, and this Friday, Charlie and I are off on holiday for a week. Destination Mexico. You may think it’s a strange thing to leave England quite when she is at her most beautiful, but it’s going to be good to get away, and we can’t wait.

The interesting thing is looking at the garden at this time of year, and how much it shifts in just a week. These photos were taken last weekend. The iris were just beginning to unfurl. Now they are in full flow.  When we are back, they will be gone.  Gardening is a transient art.

Henry eating grass and Mavis having a lie on the terrace.  The sharp-eyed will note Charlie’s dahlia border beginning to get going…

There isn’t much that could be as soothing as this view at the end of a long week.  It really is Iris time. Charlie planted 200 tubers last autumn.

O N E   W E E K   L A T E R

One week passes and here is the garden on a brilliantly sunny evening, last Thursday.  The foxgloves are at peak, the aquilegia has self-seeded like a mad thing, and Charlie’s iris border is unfurling by the hour (almost literally).
It’s a happy and completely unplanned coincidence that at the precise moment the irises are out, the sun settles perfectly to shine on them through the gap of the garden gate. 

I had a quick trip to the Isle of Wight to see Mum and Dad, and help them with a few things – and with their imminent move after 25 years, which is daunting and exciting in equal measure.  Back home on Saturday evening.  The rest of the weekend was grey, damp and misty, which was rather beautiful, and made the intense green of late May, tipping into June, all the more saturated.

We had friends over this morning and went for a wander around the lake and the village.  I should say that we have had a few new adventures in the last couple of weeks – not least, the sensational Vanessa Bell exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery that ends in a week – but they weren’t recorded in a photograph, I’m afraid.  But quite nice for once, perhaps, to have a blog that treads a very familiar path.  This afternoon, after heavy rain, mist came down with a vengeance. The valley was silent and warm, the garden drenched, and the air dripping.

Amongst all this peace and quiet, of course, it has been a week of grim news, and of utter senselessness, in which lives have been altered and dreams have been shattered, to no end and for no reason. Prayers of hope to those who need them.


26 comments on this post

Laura Harrisonsays:


Please oh please, do consider having note cards made of some of your glorious photos (especially the ones in this post!!). Printed on hard card, nice and glossy, they would be cards to cherish after their receipt. It would be hard to part with them, and send them to others, but I would relish in the JOY that these images would give and delight so many of my friends! Please do consider it!!!


So beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

John Hartsays:

Your garden is an inspiration! Have a good holiday in Mexico. We are traveling to England next week, a few days in London then up North. Looking forward to photos from your holiday. Please can we have some pictures of your work sometime too?


What completely stunning photos. It transports me away from my desk to an altogether more stunning world. Thank you 🙂

Randy Coxsays:

Just beautiful! Thanks for posting!

Penny Armstrongsays:

Such beauty ! Monet would faint !


What I wouldn’t give to be a fairy in your garden…


Your garden is Best in Show. Perhaps Mavis is eyeing up all those “sticks” still attached to the tree. Expecting hot spicy photos from Mexico in sharp contrast. Best wishes, Nicola

Lady Evesays:

Such beautiful photographs of your garden in two very different moods. This is the moment of the year where everything is on a knife-edge of perfection, before tipping over into the lush over-abundance of later summer.

By the way, I am sure Charlie will have told you, already, but irises grow from rhizomes, not tubers! So many people here have said they want to grow irises now, it’s worth noting that rhizomes and tubers have completely different growing requirements. Hope you don’t mind my mentioning that.

Carol Crump Brynersays:

Such abundance! It’s absolutely glorious.


Gorgeous time of year for you guys over there. What wonderful colours in your garden. Jealous
Felices fiestas in Mexico


The garden has exploded! It’s beautiful, and the iris are stunning. I am looking forward to more garden photos as the seasons progress. Have fun in Mexico!


Such glorious light in the first sets of photos. And the beauty of the irises makes me want to rush out and buy tubers. I’m looking forward to the dahlias too. Their small presence in these photos is reassuring.


Wonderful images the irises has the sun sets look devine. Well done to you and Charlie for giving such vibrant coloured plants to an already idyllic garden.Mavis looks as though she too is taking in the serenity around her and the air must be so fresh with delicate scents and the aroma of nature not forgetting a hint of sea breeze hmmm heaven.Enjoy Mexico.

Lovely! Have a wonderful vacation in Mexico.


hello, can you please tell the name of the very tall., very big leaves plant in the middle of the garden. how cane you bear to leave the garden for Mexico

Isla Simpsonsays:

Those Bearded irises are achingly beautiful Ben, they work so well with The Parsonage. I was admiring similar ones at a little fete last weekend. Such colour even in the rain!

David Sanderssays:

As Valerie mentioned, gorgeous photos, especially of the wet and misty scenes, and the colours of the irises – just beautiful. Interesting thing about cats chewing grass; it is usually a prelude to an upchuck, I think they use it as an emetic. El viaje seguro, Ben & Charlie.


Ben, your photographs and words make my heart sing. Have a well earned break in Mexico.


Gorgeous photos as ever, such a lovely time of year. We too went to the Vanessa Bell exhibition, it was fab! She’d have loved you if she’d met you Ben

southern galsays:

lovely photos and writings as usual. my heart ached for Manchester and all the people in the horrific attack. senseless brutality we are seeing all to often.

Re Irises, interestingly, i have had some in a pot for four years and they NEVER bloomed. each year up came the leaves and no blooms. This year BRIGHT YELLOW blooms in the last few days… ironically the same week that my landlord informed me that he and his wife want my small wee apartment as their ‘near NYC’ apartment when they move to be near their daughter in Michigan when he retires (she is already )… in about a year.

so it was a dreadful week for me… these wonderful photos help soothe …


Such peace & tranquility in your little corner of Dorset,a blessing to be sure in these perilous times. Hope you & Charlie have a cracking holiday! Enjoy some well earned down time.

connie kennedysays:

Once again I sit on top of my mountain here in Toowoomba and am transported to your beautiful part of the world. Thank you Ben for this beautiful post.


charlie’s superbly bountifully lushly english garden seemingly reflects the love you two share in life, dear ben. thank you for sharing. memorable photo of the mavis girl star gazing in day light with well chewed bones nearby….more contented happiness at dorset.

don’t drink the tap water in mexico….am looking foward to your architectural heart eye bringing home many hitherto unforseen pretty pictures of mexico. bon voyage.



Thank you for the tranquil pictures especially the iris photos. I have some iris plants from my grandmother’s garden that are at least 70 years old. Whenever I have moved, I have written into the house sale contract that the iris go with me; these blossoms are my reminder of the loving woman who raised me. Enjoy Mexico, especially the fresh soups.

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