I’m thinking of writing a memoir about the gardens I have loved. The light is fading yet the gardens in my memory are bright with colour and with hope. To capture their beauty in words will be a challenge. The peace and harmony I’ve found throughout my life in the gardens I’ve known I’ll struggle to convey in words, yet some impulse drives me. My story begins when I was three years old.

The light is fading. It’s my bedtime. It’s raining and I should be inside. I run across the grass to the darkest corner of the garden and crawl through the undergrowth. Rhododendrons tumble onto my shoulders, scattering raindrops on my cheeks and down the back of my neck. It tickles. My fringe is plastered to my forehead. I shove my nose inside a great crimson bloom, poke my tongue out and lick the petals from the inside. I am a bee!

I’m inside the foxes’ den. The rhododendrons tower to the sky, their huge green leaves layering a ceiling above me. I sit down. Dig my shoes into the soft earth floor. Spongy brown, damp. Insects scatter. I pile the musty leaves over my socks and shoes and legs, burying them. My blue pleated skirt spreads out like a fan. I fall to the ground and shut my eyes. It feels cold but wonderful. I’ve put myself to bed with the garden.