From the Kirkyard


Our Brain is a wonderful organ. One of its many functions is our Memory. It stores up so many facts from our past that we can savour, or otherwise, in our declining years, the incidents we can recall, now that we have the time to ponder.

“Self-inflicted wounds ripped deep by English cutting edge”, the heading in the daily newspaper of 12.03.17 - Twickenham and the Calcutta Cup!

The Scottish fullback, 'truly believed' his team could win, Tim Visser is claimed to have said. “Twickenham has no fears for me” and these were backed by fellow team mates and the army of supporters who made their way south on that disastrous day. Grand Slam winner, Gavin Hastings and many like him were preaching caution as to the outcome of the game. Whoever said “Scotland will have enough strength to withstand any English surge” was woefully out of touch. The English team had a lot to lose and they were determinedly playing their best rugby. “Twas ever thus” I am tempted to state but No! I can remember my first Calcutta Cup match, when we had a resounding win. As a teenager, with my friends, I recall walking home along the road to Corstorphine decked in our tartans, waving and grinning to passing motorists and passengers on crowded trams, who smiled and waved back, and there have been similar
victorious matches since. Think back to 05.03.83 for one! So, hang on to the dream, maybe next time! Meanwhile, a cup of tea is the order of the day so I make my way into the kitchen to put the kettle on. As I stand at the sink, looking down the garden, I am reminded of the many people who have shared this view with me over the years. The many friends who helped to build the view and provide the memories.

The garden swing, situated on the patio where many a cup of tea or coffee was enjoyed, was given by our friends on the occasion of our Golden Wedding. Behind the garden hut, soaring above the shrubbery on the west side of the garden, the rhododendron 'Pink Pearl,' gifted for our Pearl Anniversary. There are four azaleas, 'Elizabeth', brought on different visits by our friends in Kent, no prizes for guessing the lady’s name! On the corner, placed so that he can see the garden, a Mallard duck stationary and silent, introduced by myself because I just love ducks, and he doesn't require a pond! Along the wall to the west, honeysuckle, which was supposed to trail down the stonework exuding its perfume in the summer evenings, except for the fact it is in fact prostrate, hugging the ground and without scent. Two friends and I bought one each when visiting the market in Lanark. Mine is the only one left as one friend has died and the other moved into a flat, leaving her garden behind. These two also contributed a Golden Wedding Rose, part of a basketful of goodies presented for the celebration.

Many years ago a member of Session found a small Ceonothus plant growing in his shrubbery. He made attempts to find the name given to this species but there was none. He called it 'Cramond'. I was given a cutting from this and it seemed to thrive but after several years, I lost it in the garden over a winter. The minister had a gorgeous bush in the Manse garden and gave me a cutting, which I have split, and it grows on either side of the path leading down to the bottom lawn. There is a raised bed behind the heather garden on the east side and two wild rhododendron bushes, now the same size, grow there. One of these was in the garden when we inherited it. At that time it was a lone tree growing in a wilderness of weeds. My father died in 1972 and after the cremation we drove up to Tighnabruich for a few days. Climbing the path to witness the sun setting over the Kyles, I looked down and there at my foot was a small seedling. I brought it home, planted it, and you know the rest. On the eastern wall there is a camellia bought with a garden voucher from a friend for my birthday. I planted it on the west wall but it wasn’t happy there so I replanted it on the east side of the garden where there is less frost. It thrives and blossoms every year and gives much pleasure in the early part of the season. Also, a welcome visitor at this time is a creamy plant of the primrose family. A true friend visited us several years back with a pot full of cuttings. These, she informed me, were prolific and they are!! They are so rewarding and brighten the garden when the snowdrops have faded and the daffodils are about to bloom. Dear Jean, thank you!

Behind the camellia, in the garden next door, is a giant holly tree. It can be a nuisance when it starts shedding its leaves but it always seems to carry an abundance of red luscious berries for hungry birds in winter. This tree is ‘Ella's Tree', and reminds me of a gentle lady, now sadly gone. Under the two wild rhododendrons there is a carpet of bright yellow. This I call ‘Golden Rod' because I don’t know what it is. It came from my parents’ garden when I was first married. They brought cuttings of it from my grandfather’s garden in Ayrshire many years ago. Matching this is another yellow border plant which, I have been told, is nicknamed Creeping Jenny, which does spread but which brings memories of kindly neighbours who moved away when she died. After my husband died, I was given a lovely rosemary bush (which signifies remembrance), a thoughtful addition from a knowledgeable gardener who also contributed my gorgeous blue meconopsis poppies, which I treasure.

We have five Cordon apple trees on my east wall. The first one I bought was an apple tree from Mr Spray who had a small nursery near the Pentlands. He showed me how I could train it to grow on a wall. Unfortunately it died or so I thought. I went back to replace it and the new sapling flourished but the original seemed to resurrect itself and the following year was looking healthier. I retraced my steps to explain to the gardener (he had given me the second tree for nothing because the first had supposedly died). Offering to pay for the first tree, he refused to take it because he thought I had worked hard to save it. The apple trees are growing old, like myself, but still produce juicy fruit. We have many rose bushes scattered throughout the garden, commemorating anniversaries, birthdays and special events and all remind us of the persons who gifted these to enhance this special plot.

There is a rowan tree at the front gate. We were looking after two young children while their parents were away in the south for a wedding. I organised a picnic at Craigie Woods and told the story about how you keep witches away from the house by planting a rowan. We managed to find two very small seedlings and planted one at the gate of their home and one at ours. The children, now parents with youngsters of their own, still ask if my tree continues to grow. Theirs is no longer at the gate of their old house. They now live on the Black Isle but still remember the story.

We have two large lawns which hosted, in their time, badminton nets, a hole to accommodate practice putting shots, a tent which always seemed to attract the rain and hoops for croquet among other ploys.

I do hope I have not bored you with my reminiscences. My last thought comes from the heather bed which occupies most of the east side of the garden. My father had an amazing collection which he refused to transplant believing that heather enjoyed where it was planted, in plenty of peat, and removal upset it. He gave us a variety of young plants and, though he has gone, the heath garden is a sea of white, pink and deep red. There is colour from this area throughout the year. Perhaps this, of all the plots, is the one which calms me when I am perplexed and gives me courage when I am down but, best of all, lets me see how much I have to be thankful for!

Doris Duncanson

P.S. We ended the Six Nations with a resounding victory. Thank you Cotter and the team!

November 2016
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