Other eyes

I know my garden; I’ve worked in it for time out of mind and I’ve photographed it a lot, and I mean A LOT. But last weekend two friends came round for afternoon tea and a walk (which we gave up on, due to the weather), and one of them is a professional photographer.

I’ve worked in mist myself, and I love the effect it gives – but mist and persistent drizzle? When there’s a stove to be lit and crumpets to be toasted? Hmmm. The weather did not, however, deter my friend. When I saw his shots I was surprised at what he had photographed, and delighted. So here, with his permission, are three looks at my garden through someone else’s eyes.

First, the old pigsty. You could call it a potting shed but you can’t actually stand up in it. It’s a pigsty. Or was, literally. Now it’s a metaphorical pigsty – a general dumping ground.


I would never have drawn attention to the wheelbarrow. I prefer to forget it’s there, and that it needs replacing. I’ll get round to it soon.

Now for the garden’s tutelary deity:


Yes, that’s right, it’s a concrete budgie.

It was here when I arrived in 2002, propped up in the roots of the rowan where they scrabbled over one of the retaining walls. The rowan has since gone, brought down by last winter’s storms, but the budgie remains. His eyes are bright amber, his beak is chipped and I can’t think of the garden without his slightly cheeky presence. He’s only about seven inches long, so he doesnt take up much room. At present he lives in the gnarled remains of the rowan’s trunk, and will soon need a new home when we get round to dealing with that too. After the wheelbarrow.

(The wall just below here has some horseshoes built into it; in fact the whole house is ringed with iron. This is possibly due to the fact that the small hill diagonally opposite me was traditionally supposed to be one where the Tylwyth Teg – the Fair Folk – met. So there.)

This last shot I would never have taken – too much reflection, I’d have thought. But I like it and should evidently not be so narrow.


It’s an old stone sink which provides a bird bath (and disguises an inspection trap over a place where several pipes meet on their way to the soakaway). It’s not particularly picturesque, but the birds love it, and the stones enable anything which falls in to climb out. I sometimes find toads nearby, as well, but I’ve not had frogs. Yet.

(Probably just as well, given what Next Door’s Cat can do when she sets her mind to it.)

All photographs courtesy Malcolm J. Murgatroyd


13 thoughts on “Other eyes

    1. kate Post author

      I think it’s really useful. Last year it was open for the local gardening club, but most of the feedback from the 50 or so people was about cake…!

  1. Cathy

    That’s some mutant budgie, Kate! This must have been such an interesting experience for you – and even though there are times when I have tried to ramble round my garden completely objectively it isn’t an easy thing to do, although I do notice things I had forgotten about. Sometimes I will do it as a mental distraction exercise before I go to sleep (ie in my head, not for real) but I never complete a full circuit before I drop off 🙂

    1. kate Post author

      Don’t you be rude about my budgie – or who knows what will happen? Seriously, I suspect he was probably painted once upon a time – he might have balanced on the edge of a bird bath or something like that – but that’s long gone, along with any smooth finish and most of his beak.

      The outside view is so interesting. I walk past Budge every day, repeatedly, and yet I hardly ever actively notice him….

  2. islandthreads

    an interesting post Kate, sorry about the walk but the crumpets sound good, B&W makes an amazing difference to everything, your friend seems to have been looking at texture and tone, I confess I have in the past posted photos of wet stones and water reflections, I think you answered your question about photographing the wheel barrow it is too tied to the idea you need a new one for you, thanks for posting I enjoyed seeing the photos and your reflections on them, Frances

    1. kate Post author

      With you on the B&W, I must try doing more myself. I always used to, but digital has made me lazy – though of course I can work on B&W versions of digital shots. I have done, ages and ages ago – much go back to it. Sometimes…

      You are so right about the wheelbarrow – maybe we should all get friends round to look dispassionately at things!

  3. croftgarden

    Looking at photographs of the garden taken by others is an interesting experience and far more revealing than their comments (invariably polite).
    Your wheelbarrow looks in better condition than mine, which like everything else here, suffers from a terminal rust infestation.

    1. kate Post author

      You can’t see the rust in this shot! Actually, it’s a ‘new’ – well, new to me – wheelbarrow after the other one rusted itself into an archaeological deposit rather than a piece of useful garden kit. With you on the rust… sigh…


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