Miss Haversham’s Garden

The garden has an air of decline towards the end of October.  Particularly if you stumble into it on a misty morning.  It is like entering the realm of Miss Haversham.


We might have to pick our way through cobwebs and dust.


And shrouded lamps.


Gossamer threads, which waver and tremble.


We have to peer through the curtains.  We’re not sure what we’ll see.

Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’

Is that a bridal veil?


Soft undergarments cast off,

Rosa ‘Young Lycidas’

left abandoned on the floor?


There are shafts of light streaming in through the window,

Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’

Is someone there?

Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’

There are soft whisperings,

Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’

As if someone is reading, or singing, or murmuring incantations.

Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’

But you can’t quite catch the words.

Rosa ‘Princess Anne’

Your clothing snags.  You gasp.  The voice stops.  Buttoned-up lips.

Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’

You peer around the corner, barely breathing…


Is it?

Could it be?

A rose with such depths you cannot imagine.

Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’

It has hidden itself away here, self-contained.  Surpassing the promise of the bud it once was.

Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’ in bud

She wears a veil so you can’t see what she is thinking.  Still waters run deep.

Rosa ‘Princess Anne’ with Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ behind

I remember finding the image of Miss Haversham thrilling and terrifying in equal measure.  Her abandon of social convention.  Her total neglect of housework.  Her cunning.

She’s focused on what everyone would rather not know or would like to forget…

Staying with the pain, attending to it, being present to and with it—that’s the task, because that’s the only (as far as I can tell) hope of finding a way forward.

Laura Mullen

Miss Haversham is a survivor.  She deserves our attention, and compassion. Maybe we all have an inner Miss Haversham?

Do you have any anti-heroines?  If you were to turn to the dark side, which one would you be?  

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42 Comments Add yours

  1. Brilliant post, Ali – very clever! Beautiful photos as always, too. I think it would be fun looking round the garden for anti-heroines, it certainly brings a new perspective to things. I’d be torn between Lady Macbeth and Cathy from Wuthering Heights. . . mmm, definitely need to find some dark and brooding plant material for that pair!

    1. Ali says:

      Oh, I love Cathy. There’s a new David Austin rose called ‘Emily Bronze’ but it seems a bit tame for her! I can imagine a gorgeous dark and bloody rose for ‘Lady Macbeth’. Or a Dahlia, or Gladioli.

      1. Oh yes, the darker and bloodier the better!

  2. Tish Farrell says:

    Love your Miss Haversham garden, Ali – all frosty heads and webs and scattered underwear 🙂

  3. I remember reading about Miss Haversham in the 9th grade, well over 50 years ago. It’s a story that stays with you and haunts you for a long time. Your photos captured it beautifully.

    1. Ali says:

      It does! A film adaptation where a mouse runs out of the wedding cake has stuck with me.

  4. nancy marie allen says:

    The image of Miss Havisham and the cold and cobwebby wedding table has stayed with me since I first read “Great Expectations” as a young woman. I loved your photos and poetic musings on the fall garden; it was like going back to Dickens’ time! Your roses are fabulous!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Nancy. She is such a strong image; a gift for Halloween associations!

  5. OK. Now I am compelled to add Great Expectations to my list of must reads in retirement! Your garden musings about Miss Havisham have convinced me. My favorite anti-heroine is none other than Scarlett O’Hara. She is a selfish, scheming femme fatale, but she pulls everyone she loves through the American Civil War … even those who resist her!

    1. Ali says:

      She does stick in the mind too! I don’t think I’ve ever seen the film all the way through, but do remember watching a big chunk as a child.

    2. Ali says:

      And I once nearly bought a beautiful Bouganvillia called ‘Scarlet O’Hara’!

  6. bcparkison says:

    It is the webs not covered in dew that attack us. Just walking through them gives a creepy feeling. Wonderful photos as usual. Thanks.

    1. Ali says:

      Ooh yes. Soggy spiderwebs. Eugh.

  7. Great post, Ali! It is very creative, wonderfully whimsical, and leads the reader on a journey o thoughts. You conveyed a story through photos and only a very few words. I love it!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed it.

  8. I’m not familiar with Miss Haversham and shall google her! Great post and photos Ali! I especially like the spiderwebs.

    1. Ali says:

      Oh yes do, try to get an image of her too!

  9. A brilliant post. Well done!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you. I had a little peep at your site and it looks stunning. I look forward to exploring.

  10. Chloris says:

    Lovely atmospheric October pictures. I suppose the autumn garden does have a Miss Havisham air about it. The trouble is she was totally bonkers and so very destructive. Estelle never recovered from her twisted upbringing.

    1. Ali says:

      You are right, Chloris. I would not want to encounter Miss Haversham in real life; she would be described as a toxic parent. Maybe one function of literature is that we can meet a nightmare and can better deal with it because we can close the book.

  11. Heyjude says:

    I don’t know Miss Haversham either ( I confess to not reading any Dickens whatsoever ) but nonetheless I enjoyed your post. You have such a descriptive way of writing – discarded underwear and all… 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      Thanks Jude! I have read surprisingly little Dickens (I am an English Lit graduate so you would have thought I would have done). I’m saving him for later!

      1. Heyjude says:

        I can’t recall reading him at school, though you’d think I would have since I attended a Grammar school!

  12. Love those “last roses of summer” in your wet garden.

    1. Ali says:

      I’m hoping some have another month in them…

  13. Eliza Waters says:

    Definitely a haunting tale. Love your cobwebs, just in time for Halloween. Have you had a frost yet?

    1. Ali says:

      We had two very slight frosts in September (unusually early) and then one at the weekend, but nothing that has actually touched the plants yet. Generally October is the time we expect the first frost.

  14. Clare Pooley says:

    I love your Miss Havisham’s garden! I also adore those buttoned-up lips of Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’!

    1. Ali says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed them too, Clare! 😂

  15. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful beautiful blog – contains my favourites – reference to great and haunting literature and one of our most exquisite roses, Munstead Wood, which I have just ordered as a bare root……. have the spot marked in the garden
    Love the reference to “ staying with our pain as the only way forward “
    Thanks for the inspiration……. x

    1. Ali says:

      I am really glad you enjoyed it. Munstead is probably my favourite – a source of endless wonder. Yes, that quote struck me as powerful and true.

  16. How beautiful, Ali! I am having a bit of a sad Monday. These pictures helped me a lot. Plus, I LOVE Miss Haversham. I love Dickens in general, but I love Miss Haversham. If I were to go to the dark side…I might be Wilson Fisk from the show Daredevil. My husband and I are watching that right now, and he fascinates me.

    1. Ali says:

      I am sorry to hear that Shelly. ❤️
      There is something about an anti heroine isn’t there? You can explore an alternative reality, but sanitised through its fictional status. I will look up Wilson Fisk. Hope you take time to look after yourself. Sending love.

      1. Things are looking up Ali! The week has gone much better.

      2. Ali says:

        I am very pleased to hear that. ❤️

  17. Jewels says:

    Lovely images Ali ❤

  18. janesmudgeegarden says:

    How lovely. You are able to find beauty in every aspect of your garden Ali, no matter what the season, and you text is so fitting. I loved the underwear abandoned on the floor! I am a big fan of Margaret Atwood’s writing and I think the character Zena in ‘The Robber Bride’ is a brilliant antihero.

    1. Ali says:

      I love Margaret Atwood too. My favourite is ‘Alias Grace’.

  19. Indira says:

    I am awestruck!!! Great post!

    Thanks for visiting my pages 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      Thanks Indira. X

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