Abergavenny is a bustling town with mountain air giving it a liveliness and energy. Yet near the centre is a tranquil place where the visitor can rest, picnic and walk: The Linda Vista Gardens, literally “beautiful view”, where you can enjoy the sight of the Blorenge Mountain.
Its origins were as a private garden to the Linda Vista Villa built in 1875. It changed hands several times before being acquired by Abergavenny Council in 1957 to be transformed into a public park with added land to the west and south, the Castle Meadows. It has an intricate layout in the formal part and the quality of the planting is exceptional, with a variety of trees and shrubs and some unusual specimens including rare orchids. Not only is it a delightful spot in itself but it hosts open air music concerts during the Summer Festival.
Landscape gardening went through several phases of fashion in past centuries and, although this is different from the work of Capability Brown, I was reminded of his words when he saw his role as akin to that of a poet or composer: “Here I put a comma, there, when it’s necessary to cut the view, I put a parenthesis, there I end it with a period and start another theme.” The emphasis is on the experience of the visitor and making sure it is harmonious and modulated.
As you enter you will notice a wooden sculpture ahead which depicts aspects of the history of the town. The middle section was of particular interest to me since it shows the treacherous woman supporter allowing Owain Glyndwr into the town which he then virtually destroyed. This might have been one of Capability Brown’s commas and, for me, the full stop was when I paused to sit on some wooden pallets near the exit and suddenly realised they were a bug hotel in preparation.
I was also aware, as I took the photographs, of what I believe was a habit in the Victorian period of looking at a view with the aid of a wooden rectangle to focus on one section of a panorama. Pointing my iPad, I felt I was doing something similar and was preserving all this for later as Wordsworth mentally recorded his daffodils. A sonnet formed in my mind, partly because of the assonance in the name Linda Vista and partly because of the philosophical conundrum about whether or not things continue to exist when not perceived directly. And – carpe diem when you are in a place like this.
This breeze, sent down from mountains, calls the name,
breathes “Gerddi Linda Vista” to the flowers.
They whisper back, the message is a frame:
“You count millennia; we live in hours.”
One plant claims a brief season within Spring;
another takes the Autumn by surprise.
Here are no masters and no underlings:
each has its day to seize our lazing eyes.
Captured in sunlight by my mental click,
they know I am a camera – so they sway,
toss petal-locks, give their green fronds a flick,
as if I’ve caught them in their négligées.
Yet, when I go, will they dance on and make
more moving selfies for the garden’s sake?
There a section of garden poetry on my website: Formal Poetry and other idiosyncrasies