Tag Archives: environment

Borderlands Renga

IMG_3645What the land says


Morning sun

warms crumbled earth

relief from frost heave


I hold it in my hands

it holds me


hills made overground

by velvet tunnellers

dark soil workers


home to the unseen

and the spectacular


a rusty horse-shoe, half-buried


O larch, cone

and whisker of you

nubs of dusted red


ash trees do it for me

sometimes, especially


fluid hardness of wood


leaning into, leaning on

a steady place to start

bones and barks both bend


hollowed, clothed

folding rock and living humus


the burn’s law carves a groove

divides a field

opens up earth’s skin




sunlit current between the banks

silent cross-currents within me


aching for the river’s touch

to be closer

to my open hand


telegraph pole floating down in the flood


the stream tumbling into my right ear

drifting from my left


glistening water

passes under the high bridge

carries thoughts downstream


shadow of a fish

playing with light



a water world



too thirsty to write a verse

above the river, I drink


above is below, flickering

skittish dipper flashes

stone to stone


today’s green umbrella

sheltering last week’s rain


earth route, sea bound


the water continues

sure in its course

holding to uncertainty





around the shadow of my hat

grass glows


in an auditorium of green fire

burning off

winter’s residue


furious and ferocious me

I lie down and rest


bliss – a line

scorched between

need and no-need


sun-grown leaf, grain, fruit


this stone below me, slow

this light on my face


a constellation of solar systems

scattered over

the dandelion meadow


red absorbed

sleepy cushion after lunch


furnace of microbial life



photosynthetic factories

forging the sward




feathers in my pocket

song in the air


crows – two in the uplift

corks on an unseen river

your wings, my home


take me up, thermals

so that I may see


the nothingness of being

that lives by breath


ripple in the pool, rustle in the tree


tickling my cheekbones

songs of blackcap, chiff chaff, jackdaw


drowsy afternoon

a chance to listen to air

sifting memories


my mother’s bloodroot


a wave of tiny combustions

the wave arranged in patterns, rhythm


cow-breath gorse-breath

blowing the flute

of the secret valley





where the skylark is –

even to the ten thousand galaxies


this pen settled in the saddle

of thumb and forefinger

widening to describe all this


space curves

there is a tree, a wall, a house


a network of human habitation


soft sow shape of Cheviot

stretches out asleep

over all those centuries


distant granite whaleback


in the distance

between thoughts – a space to fade to


sky full of bird paths

each flown invisibly

opened and closed


bear’s garlic, shepherd’s purse,

Persian speedwell


blue harvest


slip through

follow the fold of sky






the me that has no thoughts

the other quietly watching


a way to be back

along the boughs

a root home


with all the twists and turns

still there is the green


can we meet the tree?

sometimes I sense it

and so must she


tell me what I am

and through me sing


a group reflects

a hawthorn dances

I listen


preoccupied by the thinking

we forget the knowing


delusions like crows on a fence


arthritic old thorn

teaches silence

to sapling ash, oak, gean


ten thousand green eyes

turned skywards


what a day of embrace!

tree of heart’s desire

hold our grief, our trust, our uncertainty


alive to this place


tangled in and out of shadow

risk yes risk joy.



A walking renga

from Borderlands 3 at Burnlaw,

Whitfield, Northumberland,

on 23rd April, 2017.



Jo Aris, Melanie Ashby, Michael Van Beinum, Matilda Bevan, Neil Diment, John Fanshawe, Jane Field, Linda France, Kate Foster, Malcolm Green, Sharon Higginson, Geoff Jackson, Martha Jackson, Georgiana Keable, Virginia Kennedy, Linda Kent, Martin Lee Muller, Karen Melvin, Tim Rubidge, Geoff Sample, Torgeir Vassvik, Gary Villers-Stuart, Rosie Villiers-Stuart, Nigel Wild, Richard Young.


Borderlands 3 was a gathering of Northern Networks for Nature.  On Saturday we were mostly indoors, listening to excellent speakers, sharing thoughts (and fantastic food – thanks Martha!) and watching and listening to a ‘salmon fairytale’ from Norway.  On Sunday we went outside and walked down the valley as far as Bridge Eal, stopping along the way to consider the elements and write renga verses.  This renga is the fruit of that walk in that place on that day with those people.



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Moorbank Update

DSCN3570The Moorbank Executive Committee has been constantly working behind the scenes to secure the future of the garden year. However, we have been significantly hampered in our efforts, and would appreciate help or advice from new sources now.

Over the last year, the committee have sought out new partners who may be interested in the Moorbank site for educational and horticultural purposes. To that end, we had pulled together a business plan with Northumberland College, for them to use Moorbank as a satellite site for their horticultural and other land based management courses. The Friends of Moorbank would have been allowed to continue volunteering, whilst also assisting with increasing the availability of the garden to members of the public. This plan was turned down by the Freemen as they do not wish to issue a lease to a third party, and would prefer to manage the garden themselves.

The committee have also been approached by The Sainsbury’s Trust, who have offered funding for three years to support Moorbank’s transition from a University department to a more public facing facility. This funding would cover all the utility and other direct costs, which would have given the garden the breathing space to build up income from visitors and other sources of funding. Despite the committee offering to put together a full application for this funding on behalf of the Freemen, we have received no reply to them about this proposal.

In addition, we have received political support from the Council, which unanimously passed a motion to support Moorbank. They have requested a meeting between the Freemen, the Council and the Executive Committee to plan the future of Moorbank. As yet, we have had no response from the Freemen about this request. We have also had support from 38 Degrees, the Northumberland and Newcastle Society, the Journal and potential financial support from individuals.

Newcastle University need to start relocating the plants soon, although a number of them are not suitable to move to another site due to their size and tangled roots, or they are not of interest. As such, a significant number of plants in the Tropical House and Desert House (not owned by the University anyway) are likely to be left in situ at the end of November. We have not received any assurances from the Freemen that heating and water will be provided to these plants after this date, so it’s looking quite dire for them.

The University lease expires on the 30th November, and we have no clear idea of the Freemen’s plans for the site after this date. The University have pledged to leave all the plants in place if we can care for them, but the Freemen have not revealed whether they will continue to heat and water the plants in the glasshouses. Time is now tight, and we need help in how to advance the situation.

If there is anything you can help with, we can send more information to you, contacts we have made and other facts if you need them. Any suggestions for how to advance this situation are welcome. Please email us at moorbankbotanicgarden@gmail.com.


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