Algy perched on the roof of a wee stone bird table, close to a pretty mauve azalea, and gazed at the garden around him. In the distance, massive, ancient oak trees towered over the rhododendrons, while closer to his perch there were several huge, exotic conifers reaching high into the sky. But at the lower level, close to the ground, there was a bright sea of fresh green and colourful flowers, with no disturbance except the flitting of birds among the bushes. It was so peaceful in the garden; Algy could hear no noise except the trickling of a burn and the sweet sound of birdsong. He was reminded of the opening verses of an old poem:
How vainly men themselves amaze
To win the palm, the oak, or bays,
And their uncessant labours see
Crown’d from some single herb or tree,
Whose short and narrow-verged shade
Does prudently their toils upbraid;
While all the flowers and trees do close
To weave the garlands of repose!
Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,
And Innocence thy sister dear?
Mistaken long, I sought you then
In busy companies of men:
Your sacred plants, if here below,
Only among the plants will grow:
Society is all but rude
To this delicious solitude.
No white nor red was ever seen
So amorous as this lovely green.
Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,
Cut in these trees their mistress’ name:
Little, alas! they know or heed
How far these beauties hers exceed!
Fair trees! wheres’e’er your barks I wound,
No name shall but your own be found.
[Algy is quoting the opening verses of the poem Thoughts in a Garden by the 17th century English poet Andrew Marvell.]