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20 Sept 2018

The spirit of Inverewe captured in poetry

Written by Jacky Brookes
Lydia Muijen and her poetry book ‘Spirit of a Garden’
Inverewe Garden has provided the inspiration for a new poetry collection by Lydia Muijen.

Author and actor Lydia Muijen first came to Inverewe in 2016. She found herself instantly captivated by the beautiful garden. Accepting the role of poet-in-residence in 2017 gave Lydia the opportunity to write about her love for both the garden and this peaceful corner of the north-west Highlands, a place where Lydia finds the words flow ‘like water down a stream’.

Spirit of a Garden is the result of her year-long residency at Inverewe, which her first poem ‘The Spirit of Inverewe’ so eloquently describes. As the weeks went on, Lydia found further inspiration from the wider landscape, and from the history and culture of the area. The collection mentions individual plants and places in and around Inverewe Garden and the estate. It invites the reader to go on a treasure hunt and search for some of the more hidden spots inside this beautiful garden.

Erythronium, which feature in Lydia’s poem ‘The Spirit of Inverewe’
Erythronium, which feature in Lydia’s poem ‘The Spirit of Inverewe’

Lydia explains: ‘There is an introduction that explores aspects of poetry. The book is divided into spring, summer and autumn, which is a reference to the film Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring. In the back of the book are three maps; these maps are of the garden and the surrounding area, each with links to the pages of the poems.’

Lydia adds: ‘This is continuing the tradition of education and welcoming poets and artists which was started by Osgood Mackenzie. The spirit of Inverewe is in each plant and item. You can touch and feel the love and care that went into all of it. The spirit of Inverewe is a time machine that takes you from the past right into the present.’

Inverewe House
Inverewe House

Operations Manager Kevin Frediani explains: ‘Inverewe facilitates an environment of creativity that visitors can experience. Inverewe Garden is gaining a reputation as an imaginative and inspiring arts destination in its own right, with a thriving programme of cultural activity.

‘Our current Sawyer Gallery exhibition, which runs until the end of October, is called Tales of a Stranded Piano. This is an artistic collaboration between a musician, an artist and Lydia as a poet – and is where Lydia’s poetry collection was launched.

‘Tales of a Stranded Piano tells how there is more than one life for this piano. Donated by the grandson of former 1930s concert pianist Ella Ford, the degraded piano will be made into a harp following its final performance on the launch night. Lydia’s poetry forms part of the backdrop to this exhibition.’

Kevin continues: ‘We know that Inverewe encourages creativity and that people feel an instant connection with it – people love Inverewe and the other places that the Trust protects, as do the volunteers and staff who care for these places day in, day out, for the love of Scotland.’

Lydia at the poetry signing
Lydia signing a copy of her new book

Lydia’s poetry is a clear demonstration of this love for Inverewe in action – and now visitors have the chance to experience the beauty of Inverewe through her work. Spirit of a Garden is available to buy from the Inverewe Visitor Centre.

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