The robin materialises from a point in the ground where the storm disappeared. Out of all the thrashing rain and screaming winds, the bird stands, in the conspicuous, red-breasted, defiance of the season’s greetings card pose and begins to sing.
Storm Desmond, which newspaper headlines have called the wildest of all, seems to have largely passed through, although there are still errant gusts and cat-spits of rain.
“After a storm there must be a calm,” sang Desmond Dekker. It’s not calm yet. At the coat-flapping edges of the gale we escaped the worst of the flooding and wind damage that hit the north. But we have not come out of it unscathed. Flood barriers have been erected on the river towns, and the Severn flashes across fields where swans and geese gather for the event.
As a writer, gardener and conservationist, I am fascinated by the way our attitudes to wild and cultivated plants shape the world we live in. Much of what I’ve learned about that I’ve discovered from botanical gardens — and Kew is the greatest of these. Kew is more than a venerable historic institution; it is a living thing, a community of plants and people that has grown through the centuries. Kew tells us about the past (inglorious though some of its stories are) and it is telling us about our future, too.
'Hosting the event in a bird hide flavored it with a sense of theater. It brought people into a building built into a landscape that aimed to camouflage, rendering them invisible to the wildlife outside.
On that day the clapping of wings was drowned out by the clapping of hands, the cries of wading birds became woven into the threads of poetic words that chased one another out of the mouths of poets and story-tellers'.
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