Barney Bubbles Memorial: A Landscape for the Birds to See



half a dozen tulips.

three that Barney did for Quiver’s ‘Gone In The Morning’ LP in 1972. (Looks like marquetry using  imitation wood-grains on sticky-backed plastic, perhaps? DW)
and three that he did for various 7″s of Elvis Costello’s ‘New Amsterdam’ in 1980.


My Garden in The Haight and Ashbury District of San Francisco

By David WIlls

My garden in Haight Ashbury’s lee

Of petal power is where I sow

To diagram ideas for days

A landscape for the birds to see

Where friend Pruzan got me to grow

My sprouts in such mysterious ways.

I filch plants by Philodendron snatching

Houseplants left upon on the street

Get Pineapple Lillies from the dead

The Portugal laurel’s a rooting

And Lords and ladies that I meet

Were bought, so it was said.

The building of the garden at dawn

Is green and gleaned in wild ways

With sunken paths, a vertical lawn,

Raised beds, trees, and creepers dense

The wriggling paths a maze

Where lanes tell a story within the fence.

It’s a city thinker’s place to walk

A watershed of wet dynamics

Where barrels of water talk

From great height to do their tricks

Dribbling about in a giddy jig.

The tangled growth of Jimson Weed

Tells a story of the garden’s big

Wiccan stone circle aligned by spies

Where the winter solstice moon’s rise

Is a veil for all that witches need.

There’s a feel of an ancient dig

In these sunken paths at home

Where compost cob walls grow so big

They’re later demolished for their loam.

There’s dirt in the fingernails

Mud on my shoe, as hard they slog

Past the Elegant Salamander who hails

Under that old rotten, forgotten log.


Getting a bit emo here. Graphic whiz, my old chum Colin ‘Barney’ Fulcher and I dreamed, for a couple of weeks, back in ’67, (after seeing Martin Sharp’s, Flower Power OZ) a dream of militant Flower Power, where stamens meant truth and beauty; where honest bumble-bee business took place; where peace would rule and the blues were key. It was the time of the painted bus, of the joy of recognition of fellow heads on the street.

“The Bauhaus lives !” A community was born, rock and roll was the lingua London. All the petals would sing their praises, Hallelula On High. “My white bicycle” in the air. Grow it kid! Existence is unhappiness. Change is in the air. Grow bromilliads, it’s the air plant, keep ’em moist with a spray.

We moved on. But Barney always liked to go to ground, to hide from the city out in Alison’s garden at Fleet in Hampshire, or somewhere. It was one of the places he called his monastery, with a field to walk in. I had places to go to too, I’d paddle Poole park in a canoe, kiss Stonehenge or hang-out over at Hampton Court Palace, with the deer in Home Park near where my mum’s secret lover, the old shepherd Tom had his shack on wheels. But we both kept the thrill of the modern too, “… ev’ybody’s talkin’ ’bout the new way o walkin,’ baby gonna loose yo’ mind ” in mind.

Then he died, the idiot. Having always had the idea at the back of his thoughts, Barney did the ultimate “I’ll show you…” to a major client and copped it on purpose it 1983 after some biz-bloke type said something along the lines of, “You’re past it, you’re all washed up.”

So my garden came to be, in 1983/4, amongst the other things, it became a Barney Bubbles/Fulcher place. I’ve kept sane, by helping tend the spirit and thrill of the man, by keeping my eye on the new, tracking modern times in my garden, a place where I express my inner landscape. Here’s what I know…

Create the scale, let the garden be a space and spaces. To have depth of idea. That’s what Fulcher would think. “Let it have a wilderness,” as Lord Montague of Bute so often said – and was often derided for it, but one could have the whole caboose be a wilderness if one felt like it. I do. My whole spread is a scraggly maze. It doesn’t matter what the size – you could have a wilderness in a thimble.

Another peerless comment came from Lady Aberdeen in her garden in Edinburgh, she stressed vistas; vistas to emphasize the depth of what you’ve got… or not. She grew a vista of arches, but it could be seen as a recession of screens, the scrim of the classic stage set. That was her working principle. My garden is laid out similarly, but on the plan of an old, irregular Welsh stone circle, that aligns with the apogee of the 18 year and eleven day cycle of the moon, the something or other Cycle. An oval, egg shaped fourteen stone circle, marked by earthquake downed chimney pots, My stone circle is not mathematically laid out, neither was this Welsh one, it were done kind of country style, see?

Originally the circle was marked out in the field of Bermuda grass by the black and white dog of knot-artist, the submariner, Buster Fleming. Then the running circles of cats added to it in interlocking ovals, to create as many pathways as possible. It forms a cabala.

I have over 250 feet of linear pathway winding about in a space of about 1250 square feet (or 25 x 50 feet). With a 200 sq ft (or 8 x 25 foot) ‘panhandle at the end stolen from my neighbors. I like to dig the pathways deep, similar to the trenches in 1914 Flanders, one of the places where my Rummy card playing partner, and Uncle, Corporal Peter Watkin Llewellyn Davies, 2nd Battalion, Welsh Fusiliars, earned his Mons Cross for surviving the entire war. Although one time, after occupying an abandoned bar in the mud and getting sloshed he was demoted to private. But I dig the paths as shelter from the winds, not from shells.

“Let the paths be unpaved, for unpaved we shall let the sand run free.” (Is that Deuteronomy 5. 11? No, I just checked, that’s “… the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” the branding instructions for flowers.) Having unpaved sand for walks is good for the ground water too.