21 August 2020

What nature means to me

Writers share the inspiration behind their displays dotted across the Gardens this summer

By Meryl Westlake

Nepal mountain peaks

Leo Boix

I live in Deal, a small East Kent coastal town overlooking the English Channel, where I swim regularly.

Nature, in all its forms, has inspired my poetry in unexpected ways, from the marine environment where I live and work, to the woodland trees and migratory birds I'm surrounded by.

This special connection became even stronger since I moved to the UK from Argentina in 1997, as it reinforced in me notions of belonging, exile, and fleetingness.

A view of the Nahuel Huapi Lake
Nahuel Huapi Lake ©Leo Boix

Óscar Martín Centeno

For me, nature connects with the human being, transmits its heartbeat, amplifies its silences. In the poem it is more than just a stage. It is the invention of love.

The photograph is of a crasa, it is a typical plant in arid areas, quite common in southern Spain.

I like it a lot because it looks like a green rose that is born in unsuspected places. I took the picture on a rainy day and the drops of water shine on the plant.

A casa plant with rain drops
©Óscar Martín Centeno

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

When I was young, my mother told me there were kami, spirits, everywhere. Sometimes, I sit still and try to listen out for them.

©Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Jini Reddy

Nature is the living earth – in nature I experience freedom, belonging, repose, an unravelling, and often, joy.  

This is an image of the St. Lawrence River ( and the Lachine Rapids)  taken from the end of the street I grew up on in Montreal. Whenever I arrive back in Canada, this is the first place I go, and it represents so much: sweet memory and homecoming but also the beauty and power of nature. When I come to this spot, I exhale, unravel, feel free and at peace.

St Lawrence River
St Lawrence River©Jini Reddy

Yuyutsu RD Sharma

Nature in the Himalayas is not just a physical thing but a spiritual entity, Devatatma, a Sanskrit word meaning a place where soul of the god lives. It’s through the celebration of these magnificent Himalayan glaciers, named after divine beings like Annapurna, Lord Shiva’s consort, that I have been able to get in touch with the sublime and seek higher truths in life. 

The song of these glaciers that melt and replenish the granary stores of the Subcontinent bestow upon us a sacred mission to survive, keeping us physically fit, agile like birds, connecting our breaths to the colossal soul of the gods.

Nepal mountain peaks
Himalayan peaks ©Andreas Stimm

Nina Mingya Powles

I took this picture outside a temple in Yunnan, China, in 2016.

The courtyard was coated in yellow leaves; the air was full of incense. Ginkgo trees are very ancient – to me they represent memory, history, and connectedness.

A temple in Yunnan flanked by a Gingko
Gingko, Yunnan, China ©Nina Mingya Powles

Toni Giselle Stuart 

My walks in Silvermine have become about connecting to my ancestors, the indigenous ones who have walked this land for thousands of years, and those who immigrated here centuries ago in various ways.

In the mountains and at the ocean, I remember and feel, how I am part of something much bigger. This makes me feel held and safe. 


Silvermine landscape
Silvermine landscape ©Toni Giselle Stuart
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