Wild Garden Haikus

19th Jul · Dawn Hawkins

Tucked away at the back of the Barn is our Wild Garden – a beautiful community space and a haven for wildlife.

Wild Garden Haikus

Tucked away at the back of the Barn is our Wild Garden – a beautiful community space and a haven for wildlife. Fiona Simmons, a regular visitor to this tranquil space, was encouraged by garden volunteers Joan Fleming and Tom Gray to show the Barn team the poetry she had written there during lockdown in 2020.

And so began a really collaborative project. Fiona’s haikus were engraved by a local engraver Mairead Amos on to separate pieces of plywood saved when the Barn’s technical booth was removed to create better access for our volunteer projectionists. The plywood was cut to size, first by volunteer Tom Gray and then by team member Graeme McKinnon who also fitted them to stakes before placing them sympathetically into their wild setting.

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In this blog Fiona shares what has been the inspiration for the works you will enjoy as you make your way through this wonderful poetry path right here on your doorstep.


Who is Fiona Simmons?

I have lived in the area since 2000 when I moved here to live with my parents because of illness.

I have worked as a Conservation Housekeeper at Crathes Castle and followed my main passion: singing. I have always been interested in writing in different forms. I had written and recorded a song called The Secret based on a poem I wrote walking in the Wild Garden at a workshop at the Barn. But it was Elaine Reid’s workshops that opened the floodgates when I went looking for song writing inspiration. During Lockdown I did two Writing for Wellbeing courses by Jill Teague and learned to do more structured things with the flow of writing facilitated by Elaine.

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What does nature mean in your day to day life?

I have recently lost both parents and had to move from the family home in Woodlands of Durris to live in a more built up environment. I miss the comforting presence of the forest, the moon, the stars, the sound of wind in the trees. I have had to seek out natural surroundings closer by. There in the Wild Garden I find wellbeing and creativity, a certain spiritual sense of peace and freedom and purpose too just by existing alongside it. I feel guilty that I do not actually garden in the Wild Garden but to have sat and done the haikus feels as though I am at least giving back on some level.

What does the Barn and Wild Garden mean to you?

I think the whole area encompassing the Barn, the Wild Garden and the neighbouring Bistro has something special about it. Positive thoughts grow, creativity flourishes, people meet each other and try things out. Things happen. I sometimes say to people “I am sure there are angels here!” I find coming here helps keep me going through hard times and enhances the goods times. I frequently also do singing practice here too! Silently and sometimes not so silently…

What is your connection to FLOURISH the 2017 Community Writing Project at the Barn?

I have been to workshops by the FLOURISH writer Elaine Reid, in fact it was Elaine who turned the key in the ignition of me finding the flow of words which lead to the haiku writing. I made some small contributions to the writing activities in FLOURISH and did have a creatively eye-opening experience of a small piece of writing in the Wild Garden back then.

What was the motivation for the haikus?

The haikus were not written separately. They crystallise what is written and explored in the prose part of the haiku. I was trying to express the essence of what I felt and thought and observed as a result of being there in the Wild Garden, responding with my imagination using words and in a very few syllables.

How does it feel to have had so many people involved in realising this project?

It is humbling to see the care and creativity which has taken place in the wake of me on my own just jotting down words in a small notebook. Each stage has been carefully considered by each person who has contributed. There are so many constructive people interacting with the Wild Garden and it is so rewarding to feel part of this, to make a contribution.

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What does seeing your words in the Wild Garden mean to you?

I frequently spend time in the Wild Garden. It has been a whole new adventure as the boards have appeared. They really blend in with the Wild Garden, and don’t shout at all. I keep being surprised and discovering new dimensions as I reencounter the words I scribbled in my notebook in an outburst of creativity last August. It is delightful to see the project realised. I also feel more integrated into the Wild Garden as a result and I hope people will weave their way into the experience, creating their own connections and meanings as they discover the boards and explore the Wild Garden.