Gardens | The Haute Seat

A dispatch from a Dorset garden

Our guest blogger scents restlessness in the early summer air

A dispatch from a Dorset garden

May 30 2011
Ben Pentreath

There is something this week in the weather, and in the landscape, that I am finding unsettling. First in London, and now here in Dorset, in the west of England, we have had days of relentless wind, of temperatures at once too hot, and then suddenly cold, for comfort. Down in the country the cows have been huddled against hedgerows. The landscape feels flat under the muted light of dull white cloud, the trees buffeted by endless gusts, the atmosphere heavy.

The restlessness in the air leads to a restlessness of temperament. Have you, like me, found it hard to kick off shoes of lethargy in the past 48 hours? I have been overwhelmed by a desire to do nothing at all… which I can actually recommend as a fairly perfect way to spend the time.

On Friday evening the clouds parted for a few hours to reveal an extraordinarily beautiful sunset, and I was struck by how remarkable it was to be standing, outside, at 10 o’clock in the evening in the light of a quiet dusk – when only a few moments ago we were deep in the grip of the longest winter I can remember for years. It seems strange all of a sudden that we are galloping towards the longest day of the year.

Like me, the garden feels confused. Drought-stricken, plants that we would expect in September are coming into flower; yet in my head, it is early spring still – as if we are some metaphorical explorer in space for whom time travels at a different speed to those left on earth, or as though we are trapped in a dream.

I am rather hoping that things are rebalanced by the first of the month – and that the unseasonal gales blow themselves out, and a warm, contented June settles across the countryside. There is something about new beginnings that we probably all find deeply necessary: nothing gives me so much pleasure today as when I was a child, starting a fresh exercise book. I think it would be rather good if this last week of May could be put to one side, as we turn over a new leaf in our diaries for the new month, on a rollercoaster ride towards the middle of the year, and beyond.

Ben Pentreath worked for The Prince’s Foundation before setting up The Working Group, his architectural interiors firm in Bloomsbury, London, in 2005. He opened Ben Pentreath Ltd, his interiors shop on Rugby Street, in 2008. He is a regular contributor to the House & Home section of FT Weekend.

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