castle garden of water to beyond

Twelve months in a Japanese garden in Edinburgh


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December – Ken’s post

As the year winds down towards the shortest day. I’m joined by Alice, Grazyna, and Alexander, and their daughter Marcelina; plus the dogs, Ness and Holly.

There are a few cars in the car-park but their drivers must be at whatever’s happening in the house as we have the garden to ourselves. After recent frosts and sleet the weather has calmed down, but it’s cold and occasionally we’re threatened by rain.

I ask Alice about something she was working on when I last saw her back in the spring, and she says it went well, but it’s poignant thinking back to it, as it took place in Glasgow School of Art just before the fire, in the ‘hen run’, the corridor originally used by the female students which was completely destroyed. Alexander recalls we spoke about Bernat Klein earlier in the year, and that he has since died.

Those losses, the brown leaves slowly turning to mush, the weak midwinter light and the fact I’m aware this is the last of these monthly vists all make it feel like an afternoon of endings. But as a counterbalance this is Marcelina’s first visit to the garden, so it’s a beginning too. To warm us against the cold I hand round a small bottle of Croatian plum brandy my older daughter brought back from her summer holidays, a welcome reminder of summer and the south.

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Bernat Klein’s Studio

In the February post I mentioned we were talking about Bernat Klein’s studio near Selkirk, designed by Peter Womersley. These are some photos of it from Alexander.


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February – Ken’s post

The last day of the shortest month. I’m first to arrive, and admire the pair of sphinxes by the gatehouse, though one is sadly headless. – As in January there are five of us, plus the two dogs, but this month all on the same afternoon; eventually, at any rate. After Alice, Andrew and I have strolled and sat and sheltered from the rain for a couple of hours and are about to leave, Grazyna and Alexander arrive with the bounding deerhound, and we stay for the best part of another hour, chatting about the Borders, and about the textile designer Bernat Klein who has lived there for many years – I haven’t come across him or his work, but he’s a shared point of reference for the others.

Few changes I can see from last month in the garden – no shoots and few buds – but the light is stronger, and it’s a little warmer. Rehearsals are progressing but it’s a while till opening night.

We watch a band of clouds move in from the west and pass over, making a rainbow in the firth as they do so. I follow a bird as it flies over the garden into a tree, about magpie-sized and with long tail feathers, but the colours are all wrong. Perhaps a kestrel?

Looking in the water Andrew spots something, clambers down and pulls out two labels with drawings Alice had made last month. Despite their immersion they are intact, and I photograph them on the rock where he left them, having not seen them to do so last month.

By the time we reach Davidsons Mains the café is about to close, so we warm ourselves by the fire at Ye Olde Inn instead; beer and chips rather than tea and cakes.