Arbutus at Kew Gardens

­                       It’s a lifetime
­             since we rode the red bus
from Twickenham to Kew,
­            me and you,
and walked among the trees:
blossoms in spring and – in autumn – leaves.
We listened to the soft fret and whisper
­             of secrets passing
­             from tree to tree.
And then we met the glossy arbutus,
with her leaning trunk,        twisting branches
and glossy leaves. You collected strips
­             of cinnamon-red
­         bark, reminders
­      of her scent
­­     and the day
we went
to Kew
on the red bus –
the day we met the arbutus.

Kim M. Russell, 1st August 2019

Arbutus Tree, 1922 - Emily Carr
Arbutus Tree by Emily Carr 1922 – image found on WikiArt

My response to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Wordy Thursday with Wild Woman: The Art of Emily Carr

Sherry is our host today with a video about Emily Carr and a selection of her major painted works. She says that Carr, a visionary Canadian artist whose paintings celebrate the wild beauty of Vancouver Island, was ahead of her time. She has also given us a brief background to the artist’s amazing life.

For this prompt, Sherry invites us to choose whichever of her paintings appeals (or choose one at Emily Carr Artworks), and write a new poem, including the title of the painting and its source. I chose Arbutus Tree, painted in 1922. The poem is a fictionalised memory of  one of many visits to Kew Gardens with my daughter when she was a child. 

22 thoughts on “Arbutus at Kew Gardens

  1. Your poem is so lovely, Kim, even more so when I read that the memory is of your daughter. We have arbutus trees up and down Vancouver Island, too. Sooooooo beautiful. I like the idea of the scent in the snippets of bark, for remembering.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Compact and nicely woven with loads of light and heart. Loved the gentle assonance and rhyme, placed just so, right in the sweet spot. Title knits those sounds into an overarching kiss.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I lke this a lot. We have arbutus trees up north but not down south. I visited Kew Gardens a couple of times while in London. It is a wonderful place. And to have memories tied to that place through your child, your daughter, makes it even more lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joni Mitchell wrote and sang about the arbutus in her song ‘For the Roses’:
      ‘It was just the arbutus rustling
      And the bumping of the logs
      And the moon swept down black water
      Like an empty spotlight’.


  4. I loved that Red Bus ride over to the Kew Gardens. There are “typical” provincial London city homes all lined up along the way when one gets out towards the Garden. For sure we are introduced to numerous plants and trees. I don’t have recollections though of the arbutus or most of the others by name. Two time we visited.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. p.s. I have posted a picture of the Trapeze School at the exit of the school. Although I have several pictures taken there this is the only one that I have posted.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the shape your poem takes. It is truly Poet-tree! I really liked the sounds of the leaves as whispers passing from tree to tree which seems to mimic the conversation of the narrator.


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