In praise of the bench

We have a lot of benches in our garden.  I like to sit and look and drink a cup of tea.  Some are workaday, some are more formal.  I thought I would take you round and we can sit on them one by one.


This is a very workaday one.  It is just a slab of slate on concrete blocks with an old plank behind it for the larger bottom.   It is in the kitchen garden, just outside the largest of the old stone pigsties.  This is not a place for relaxation  It's too narrow, too hard and doesn't have a back on it.  It is more somewhere to have a break from weeding.


The best thing about this bench is that, if you sit still for long enough, the swallows that nest in the pigsty will decide to ignore you and will come whizzing over your head into the pigsty through the hole above the doorway.



Come out of the kitchen garden and there is another bench which might not be for lounging on but which does have the best view in the garden.  This is the bench for a cup of tea on sunny day or for a glass or wine with friends in the evening.


Maybe it vies for best  view with this one.  This is on the sunny bank in front of the holiday cottage and looks out over the hawthorn hedge across the valley.


On a clear day like today you can see all the little fields and farms all the way up to Moel Arthur, the rounded peak in the distance.  This is, obviously, where King Arthur is buried.  Glastonbury? Just another pretender!


This is the most sheltered bench in the garden, right by the door of the holiday cottage and tucked down away from any wind.  You can often sit here even in winter on a sunny day.  These last two benches belong to the holiday cottage so we only use them when we don't have guests.  That is not a hardship because there are so many other places to sit!  For someone who loves to walk I am very fond of sitting still.


This is a private one, one of my favourites,  tucked away in the side garden and the nearest one to the house.  This is the one where I might sit to eat my breakfast or to have a cup of coffee mid morning if it is windy elsewhere.  It doesn't have the big view of the valley, just a small intimate one across the garden, but sometimes that is what I want.


So that is five so far.  Go out through the gate into the field garden and we are back with large spaces and big views.


This is another home made one, using one of the pieces of slate which were taken out of the holiday cottage when it was converted from a stable over ten years ago.  It is right by the swing so a useful place to perch while children swing until they shout to be pushed.


This bench looks down towards the fruit trees and the cutting garden.  At this distance it is not possible to see the weeds!  Result.


This is another workaday bench, battered and elderly and demoted from use in the garden proper.  It hides in the corner where it is a good place to sit and watch the hens.  Hen watching is very therapeutic.

Two more to go!  Here is the bench by the shepherd's hut.



This is another one of my favourites but because it is in the far corner of the field it doesn't tend to be used when I stop for five minutes.  It is more of a place to walk over to with a book and a cushion and the intention to stay for half an hour.



And this is the newest addition.  It sits down in the far corner of the garden where it catches the last of the sun.  This is another, like the side garden bench, which does not look out to our big view, but inwards, across towards the mulberry tree and up to where the grasses echo the line of the native hedge.


It will in time become another hidden place to sit when the grasses thicken, the new hedge on the left of the mulberry, currently about ten inches high and invisible in this photo, grows up and, best of all, when Ian builds a summer house to shelter it, open at the front to the evening sun with sides of woven hazel.

We haven't spent much money on any of these and they are a motley collection I suppose but I love them.  They make the garden a place of refuge and calm as well as a place of labour.  Do you have a place to sit in the garden?  I would love to know.

Comments

  1. Even your most dilapidated/relegated bench looks safer than my hedged 'throne' which has been returning to its elements for some years now. My dad made it and it has lasted 20 years - so I'm reluctant to replace it - that is until my bum falls through it.

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    1. I love the idea of a throne! May have to incorporate one somewhere.

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  2. I love this post! What a delightful tour of your garden (really, more like an estate, isn't it?! ;-) What really appeals to me is that the benches have obviously been added organically, nearly "growing" themselves into place by some version of form following function. They fit perfectly where they are because you've noticed the times and places when/where one needs to have a sit-down. I believe Time is the best garden designer there can be, and your post offers a great example of this. I'd love to sit on one of those benches some day. . .

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    1. Well I hope you will sit down here with me Frances! That would be wonderful. And the garden is a bit of a hotchpotch really, definitely nothing like an estate! We have a site which is just about two acres but much of it is not what you could call gardened. We do good wildlife.

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  3. Yes, I love benches. So much so my photography blog has a bench every Friday :-)

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    1. I don't remember your fab benfh by the shepherd's hut. Is it new?

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    2. We didn't have that bench there when you were here Michele. It used to live down by the bank near the cottage but we have had a bit of a change around.

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  4. Your view is stunning!
    Sitting out in the garden is something I don't do nearly often enough. As such it is very precious time. I have a bench facing west which I really must take a book out to one of these warm evenings.

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    1. I am trying to make time to sit in the garden most days, even if not for long. A book on a west facing bench in the evening sounds perfect.

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  5. You obviously spend a lot more time reflecting than I do, and I will learn from that. I love all those spaces you have created and don't know which one would be my favorite. As you said: different places for different moods. We do have a couple of seating areas but they were not chosen with much care. There is one where we land at the end of doing our chores and, though convenient, it is not because it is a place for more than a glass of water. We also sit everywhere on our wrap-around porch, but it is too connected to the house for "peace".

    Thanks for your inspiration! I am going to look around for more suitable opportunities.

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    1. I love how you describe what I do as "reflecting" Anneke, rather than idling! I know what you mean about sitting close to the house. There is something different going on when you sit in the garden rather than in or by the house, more observation, more quiet, less tendency to check things on line!

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  6. I haven't as many as you but I do have a few places to sit in the garden. I have benches by both of my ponds so I can watch the fish and a small bistro set on the patio for my mid morning coffee where I share my biscuits with the birds

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  7. I haven't as many as you but I do have a few places to sit in the garden. I have benches by both of my ponds so I can watch the fish and a small bistro set on the patio for my mid morning coffee where I share my biscuits with the birds

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    1. I do very much like the idea of a seat by the pond. Hard to explain how that might not work here. The pond is on a slope. I know, sounds crazy. How does the water stay in? So I would either sit too high above or too far below. But so appealing...

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  8. You always need a good place to sit, especially when you have such beautiful views to look at! xx

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    1. The view is compelling. Better than the garden!

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  9. So many lovely places to sit and enjoy the view; all so nice with beautiful views.

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    1. I sometime find it hard to do anything! There is always something to look at going on in the view.

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  10. Elizabeth, I would never consider this collection of benches motley. Each one of them has a unique origin and placement. I would love the opportunity to rest on any of them. I would also love the opportunity just to lie down on one of your grassy lawn areas and even take a nap, after contemplating the sights, the sounds, the scents, all around me. My sketchbook page would no doubt remain empty, despite my best intentions to do some drawing in your lovely garden.

    xo

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    1. Now if it gets hot enough (rare but it did yesterday and the day before) a nap is one of the best things to do in my garden. In normal conditions you need to move fast to keep warm!

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  11. Wonderful, there is a big need for banches all over a garden. Yours are fantastic, and the stone built are so very charming! What a fantastic garden you have. Seems to be realy hughe!
    Thank you for sharing
    a wonderful summer and all my best from an Austrian gardener
    Elisabeth

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    1. The garden is a bit of a mish mash really Elizabeth. The whole site is about two acres but it is not all gardened. Great to have a visit from Austria!

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  12. How wonderful! We have just the one bench here, but it's where I spent many hours chatting to my mum while she was with us, so poignant and happy memories. Good things garden seats.

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    1. I remember sitting and shelling peas with my mother on the bench by the cottage door. Yes, powerful memories.

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  13. I have a postage stamp garden so the only seats are the chairs we put out in summer. But the living room wall is almost all glass so I can always see my pots and such and in summer the hounds lazing in the sun. A bigger plot would be good but I'm not sure I have the oomph that serious gardening requires. No where to sit at the front either, but I can fairly frequently be found perched atop a gate to the field across the way.

    You have such great views from your hilly fastness :)

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    1. Now sitting on top of a gate sounds good! I haven't really done that since I was a child.

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  14. Your garden is lovely and what views! I'm getting better at sitting in mine and inheriting two chairs from my parents has helped so even in my very small garden I have five (six if you count the step up to the deck) different places to sit. I know exactly what you mean about the 'break from weeding' seat, very important it's not too comfortable! I always enjoy reading your blog Elizabeth.

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    1. Hard to have too many seats! And welcome to the blog. Your garden is very lovely. Makes me feel mine is very chaotic!

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  15. You certainly have a lot of places to sit and relax in your garden but the thing that really took my eye was the wonderful shepherd's hut. How I would love one of these.

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    1. I love my shepherd's hut. It was bought a few years ago after my father in law, who died last summer, came to live with us. He used the room which used to be my study so the hut gave me a space of my own. One of my favourite places ever!

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  16. 'good things garden seats'
    We have, the little blue bench where I usually eat my muesli looking up to the mountain. Two table and chair sets, that we need to learn to like using in a different climate - we no longer eat most of our meals outside, but it is winter. The Adirondacks for peaceful afternoons.
    But that gardening thing, the garden calls, as soon as my tea is drunk.

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    1. I find it depends on where I sit as to how loudly the garden calls. Some of these seats give me a full of view of jobs to be done. On some I can persuade myself that things look ok!

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  17. I've just hopped over to your blog via Sarah at homeslip and I'm so glad I did. What a lovely place you have. We're busy renovating our garden and seeking out the good spaces for sitting. Morning sun here, evening sun there, better view over there... Best wishes from the far south-east coast. Sam

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    1. I know what you mean about seeking out the good sitting places. Ours have grown slowly over the nearly ten years we have been here out of my saying "Have we got anything we can use to make me a bench just here?"

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  18. I love to see sitting areas in gardens. My favourite place to sit in my garden is a bench in a little gravelled area. I have planted lavender at the back and pots of scented pinks and herbs around.

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    1. That sounds perfect Margaret. I don't really have anywhere to sit which is scented and I am very taken by the idea of sitting amongst lavender and pinks. I wonder if I could do that with any of my seats....

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  19. I have a swing seat which recently lost its canopy so has been moved into the shade. There are chairs round a table on the new slate chippings patch (formerly a wilderness of weeds) and a very dilapidated recliner on the decking. I think the swing seat wins for comfort but not especially for the view. I love your view over the hawthorn hedge.

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    1. Thank you Lucille. I do too. The view always wins here over anything I can do in the garden but that's ok!

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  20. After being ripped apart on Amazon this morning, I very much enjoyed the relaxing feeling of seeing these benches and the views from them!! I feel a little calmer now! x

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    1. Ripped apart! That doesn't sound good. You can't please everyone though and you do please many! I was astonished the other day when talking with a friend about Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, which I think is an extraordinary tour de force, to find that she didn't like it at all and had found it turgid and close to unreadable. Still don't get it! Hope you have a lovely and calm day! x

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  21. That was lovely Elizabeth. I'm bagsying (remember that from school) the pigsty one please. I promise to sit still in order to encourage the swallows. Just lovely.

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