Threshold Poems from Ann Gray

From Ann Gray

When I was invited to join the Thresholds project, my first choice was the Botanic Garden. Lucky enough to be there, it exceeded all my expectations. I witnessed all the trees at their statuesque best, covered in snow and then slowly stirring from the depths of winter. It was marvelous to discover the Garden from its beginnings in medicine to the huge and rare collection it is now, a still and beautiful place, healing in a thousand different ways.
Here, working with the young people from the Red Balloon Learner Centre, I was able to see their joy in the space, watch them take photographs of their favourite trees and find a way of using words which would add to the richness of that experience. Everyone found his or her own way, just as I found the mulberry tree reminded me of an excursion to a silk farm as a child, and the University Herbarium took me back to all those times I, my children and my grandchildren pressed flowers to try to keep the wonder and beauty we'd discovered.

Reading in the Glasshouses will stay with me always, not just a beautiful space and a generous audience, but the chance for my parents, both aged 90, to hear me read for the first time. All the Garden staff have been generous with their time, Judy Fox in particular has been a friend, an advisor, and a font of all knowledge about trees!

As a Cambridge child, I took the Botanic Garden for granted. Now, I tell everyone I meet how they must go, not just once but at least once in every season! Every time I am back I will be in the Garden watching it change with the year, knowing now the history, the hard work, the research, the volunteering and the depth of plant science knowledge that makes it such an extraordinary place.

Thank you all for making me so welcome.