Of Fiona Hopes, who died 21st October 2019
... our much loved, inspirational and accomplished gardener, Trustee and Gatekeeper Magazine Editor
Fiona was a practising garden designer and consultant with over twenty years’ experience of designing and building gardens and landscapes. She initially trained at Pershore College of Horticulture whilst working as a gardener on a large country estate, and continued her studies as her career developed. Her desire to be physically involved insured that she continued to get her hands dirty and become a gardener to many of her clients, many of whom became good friends.
Fiona was a Fellow of the Society of Garden Designers, and for many years took an active part in the running of the Society and the production of the Garden Design Journal. She was also a Member of the Institute of Horticulture.
Fiona exhibited regularly at the Malvern Spring Gardening Show, the Royal Welsh Smallholders and Garden Festival, and at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show, where she has won a series of gold medals for her innovative and inspirational gardens.
Fiona was author of ‘The Pruning Handbook’ (Hachette Livre, 2005), ‘Bonsai’ (Hachette, 2006, French edition) and ‘Gardening With The Moon’ (Hachette, 2007, French edition), and wrote on all aspects of garden design and environmental awareness. She also regularly gave talks and taught on all aspects of garden design, pruning, healing gardens, symbolism, sacred geometry, and energy patterns in the landscape.
For several years, in conjunction with Jude Currivan, Fiona was one of the principals of The Earth School, This was a two year Earth-centered programme that included the experiential study of geomancy, sacred geometry, astrology, bodywork and resonance, combining traditional mystery and alchemical teachings with modern scientific and philosophical discoveries.
Fiona’s other interests included Earth healing through pilgrimage (with the Gatekeeper Trust), Feng Shui, dowsing, all forms of geomancy and the use of energy patterns to create sacred space in gardens and the landscape.
Fiona Hopes was a gifted designer and gardener who was dedicated to helping owners of gardens create a sacred space of peace and harmony, through her advice on structure and plant design.
One of her many talks, “Mars and Venus in the Garden: Creating Heaven on Earth”, was recorded by the Gatekeepeer Trust: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdYK4fbeU4w
In this light-hearted talk, Fiona explained how electric motors related to some earth energies, why slugs know how to find your lettuces, why copper is the best metal for garden tools to maintain a healthy soil, and why the moon, the planets and the stars affect everything you do in the garden. In this journey from outer space to the bottom of the compost heap, leaving few stones unturned, Fiona’s unusual combination of ideas will help you to get to the roots of your garden challenges, and help you create your little bit of Heaven on Earth.
Her garden, which was still being developed, is full of her design practices and include areas of wild flowers with mown paths; places to sit, and meditate, or entertain friends, a mown lawn surrounded by borders of herbaceous, perennials, and annuals, decaying wood piles to attract insects, bird feeders and nesting boxes; the inevitable compost heaps (2), raised vegetable and fruit beds, a plant nursery, a toolshed / greenhouse, with light and power.
Fiona’s workshops included ‘Sacred Geometry for All’
"There's a part of the sun in an apple, a part of the moon in a rose,
There's a part of the flaming Pleiades, in everything that grows."
Her commitment to running the Local Gatekeeper Group, and organizing national events, such as Crop Circle Days in the Pewsey Valley; visits to Avebury, and other events for the Trust are too numerous to mention:
A proud day for Fiona and Chris, when their daughter, Hannah, graduated with a 1st at Lancaster University
JOHN COLLINS WROTE FOR THE MALVERN DOWSERS
So much seems to have happened during the short time since the first issue of this magazine during the season of withdrawal and renewal. The longest night that holds the promise of the light to come. Probably the news which has had the greatest impact on both MD members and friends within the local community was the sudden loss of Fiona Hopes.
A highly creative lover of this land, and established author of a series of expertly written gardening books. Her hands were more at home in the soil or dowsing upon it and illustrating her designs for her client’s gardens than engaged anywhere else. Except perhaps for her kitchen, with her own home produced organically grown vegetables from her sensitively managed garden. Fiona’s understanding and overwhelming sense of reverence for the Land and the life it nurtured was her greatest driving force.
It was only natural that her organisational skills should come to the fore on behalf of The Gatekeepers Trust, successfully managing conferences at a variety of venues across the country and also running the regular walks from Malvern into the lesser-known and fascinating landscapes of the region.
One of Ced’s earliest Malvern memories, before he founded this group that is Malvern Dowsers today, was of a Gatekeepers walk. As too, was the experience of your editor, a walk to light a Samhain fire as the Full Moon rose above the previous Whiteleafed Oak in the shadow of these Hills.
I suspect that Fiona introduced many people to the ancient mysteries, hidden and hinted at, in the landscape around Malvern and beyond. We are blessed with eyes to see, may we also understand what it is that we see.
At the time of her passing she was actively studying a course in Eco-Shamanism in the Forest of Dean with fellow landscape enthusiast and worker, Mandy Pullen.
There is nothing ‘new’ or ‘foreign’ about shamanistic thought. Appropriately enough Fiona’s business as a landscape gardener/designer ran under the trade name of “Song Of The Earth.” Basic shamanistic necessity demands continuous two-way communication, you have to ‘feel’ and ‘listen’ before you can ever ‘do,’ something of which Fiona was always acutely aware.
An important principal that a dowser must never ignore. Our place is not to ‘impose’ upon our environment. We need to ‘talk to’, ‘sing along with’ and respect the land and its needs. Dowsing this Land is like any other worthwhile relationship, it is a constant two-way co-operative discussion.
It is wholly fitting to my thinking that she should have departed during the period of Samhain, at the time when the Land naturally draws quietly into itself to rest. Fiona who always brought to mind an image of the busily industrious hedgehog, never pausing in its purpose, always on a mission and never idle, a symbol of dedicated order in creation.
The smiling generous woman who once happily described herself simply to me as a “hedge witch.”
[John Collins, editor PENDULUM online members’ magazine MALVERN DOWSERS]
FIONA’S LONG COMMITMENT TO GATEKEEPER TRUST:
Fiona was the Trust’s Co-Chairperson with Richard Douglas for a year in 2008.
‘For those that do not know me, I have been the Local Contact for the Malvern area for many years, running eight pilgrimages in the course of the year. I have been responsible for gathering the information for the Programme Leaflet longer than I can remember and I have been a Trustee since the end of 2001. ...
She took over from Maggi Fielder as the Gatekeeper Magazine editor. Her hard, meticulous work preparing the Gatekeeper Magazine for publication will be sorely missed. The following is an excerpt from Fiona’s editorial for the last ‘GATEKEEPER’ Magazine, issue No.28, 2012.
“....As always, in the Local Contacts’ section you can read about what other members around the country have been doing. Some groups run regular pilgrimages, sometime at the festivals as I do over here in Malvern, and their journeys and discoveries make fascinating reading. It is inspiring to see the Gatekeeper Trust in action, consciously walking the land.”
Fiona’s deep study of Art and Science and the Sacred Geometry of the Wheel of Life informed her deep wisdom. Her abiding interest in sacred geometry was the theme of many workshops:
[Taken from ‘A Brief Word about Sacred Geometry’, Gatekeeper Newsletter No.18, 2001:]
‘Geometry exists everywhere in nature; its order underlies the structure of all thing, from molecules to galaxies, from the smallest virus to the largest whale. Despite our current alienation from the natural world that our so-called ‘civilised’ society asks of us, grown from a philosophy of scientific determinism, all human beings are still bounded by the natural laws of the universe. (‘Universe’ = ‘one song?) The recent extreme weather conditions have clearly demonstrated this unbreakable connection. .... The harmony that is inherent in geometry was long recognized as the expression of a divine plan that underlies the whole world, a metaphysical pattern that determines the physical. This inner reality transcendent of outer form, has remained as the basis of all sacred structure. It is imprinted indelibly in our unconscious, and is part of our genetic make-up. .....Sacred Geometry reintegrates humanity with the cosmic whole, through the universal application of the same sacred principles. It links through time and history, giving us an understanding of pagan temples, mosques, mausoleums, sanctuaries and structures around the whole world. It is found in mathematics, music, architecture, in language and sound, in the structure of the living body, in snowflakes, and stinging nettles, in the flight of a bumble bee and in the song of the ascending lark. It is the measure of the Earth, our Mother, and the sanctity of all life.’
‘Upton-upon-Severn: flooded fields seen from one of my gardens.’
Margaret Shade, a long term Gatekeeper Member:
‘Deeply sorry to hear that Fiona has passed away. Feeling lucky as lucky can be to have made her acquaintance. She was full of the kind of expansive wonder and sharp insight that you can only have if you've got your feet firmly on the ground. Her kindness, earthy smile, and twinkly eyes shine through, way beyond her lifetime. Fiona was an amazing lady, person, and presence.’
Gail Smalley – current Trustee:
‘I was so fortunate to meet her at the last GK Trustees meeting at her house, where she gave us a tour of her wonderful garden. Reading this it feels even more so essentially Fiona, that the beautiful wild flowers she gave me from our meeting showered heart shaped confetti petals on my dining room table for nearly 2 weeks and that one of the plants I bought back from her garden has flowered almost continuously ever since.
I wish I had had the opportunity to get to know Fiona better, I will start to read some of her books and articles... there seems a great deal to learn on many levels & applied in a wonderfully down to earth, practical and beautiful way. My goodness, what a wonderful gatekeeper and what a full life of abundance teaching, learning & practice on so many levels.’
Charlotte Yonge – current Trustee:
‘Fiona was a conscientious publisher, editor, workshop facilitator, researcher and gardener, who helped people to make their inner vision visible in their home gardens. She had a firm grip on practicalities as an organiser and trustee, as well as a faithful friend who helped out in times of need. Her energy seemed untiring despite having difficulties with her physiology, and her optimism seemed ready to flow at all times. She was a remarkable, philosopher-pilgrim, with a wider range of knowledge than I could describe in a paragraph, and links with many foundational speaker-authors and philosophers such as David Furlong, Peter Dawkins, Chris Street and others. She was an essential part of a cutting edge group of practical spiritual adventurers working for transformation and healing in these days of challenge.’
All at the Gatekeeper Trust gratefully acknowledge the privilege of walking alongside Fiona on part of her pilgrimage of life. We thank her for her dedication, her wisdom, her inspiration, her humour, and her generosity in sharing so much love and light with us all.
FIONA HOPES, A DEEPLY LOVED, CREATIVE GARDENER-SAGE AND PILGRIM, GATEKEEPER TRUST, 2020