The Eloquent Garden

The garden you create or dream of creating is a mirror of yourself

Category Archives: Alternative Therapy

Change – The Secret Guide To Change

I really like this Blog from Sandra, hope you find it is thoughtful as I did.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the different perspectives on ‘Change’ from the seven of us in the Health and Happiness Collective bloghop.

We are soon to choose a new subject for our next bloghop.. I’ll keep you posted

 

Change – The Secret Guide To Change.

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Welcome to The Health and Happiness Collective Bloghop

Welcome back to The Eloquent Garden!

And welcome to a bloghop that I’ll share with six other bloggers.

We all share interests in natural medicine and gardens as a source of health, happiness and inspiration.

I enjoy these different writers..they take me on a journey with their words and stories, then send me off in a different directions of thought.

Our bloggers practice naturopathy, homeopathy, aromatherapy,  natural medicine, therapeutic gardening, the creation of  perfumes, gardening experiments and Chinese Medicine.

Over the next seven weeks we’ll all blog from our different perspectives on “Change.”

Please hop on over to their blogs..with all our different yet similar passions it’s bound to be fascinating!

Enjoy reading blogs from The Health and Happiness Collective:

Some Energy Thing – Margi MacDonald

Your Health, Your Life – Kathleen Murphy

Peter Kington

Vitale Blog –  Ananda Mahoney

Natures Healing – Sandra Venables

The Wellness Ninja – Sarah George

‘One cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore’   French Philosopher, Andre Gide…

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O! This is unexpected, finding you in my bed.

I planted a garden bed. Pretty,  simple, cute. But above all, perfectly balanced in colour, foliage and spacing.

Dwarf blue and white agapanthus. Deep purple heliotrope ‘cherry pie’. Angelonia in deep pink, some white alyssum, sedum edged in burgundy-pink. Two dipladenia, one deep red, one white, with clear fishing line from soil to steps, so the plants will climb magically into the air, seemingly without support. Tufts of white variegated grass. Two phyllanthus multiflorus. As a backdrop to these pretty, yet strong plants, three cerise-flowering, pepper scented geraniums. These I discovered years ago in the cool  Maleny hills and propagated them through several moves, to be with me in each new home, each new garden.

As I admire my new and lovely plantings while taking a Sunday-ish morning garden walk, coffee in hand, I notice something. O! This is unexpected, finding you in my bed!  And yet as I look at you, I think, how well you do look.

I love when gardens surprise me. And this morning,  I see,  a dwarf african lily, quite past its flowering time, has made a strong, white flower stalk. And there’s much more! Suddenly my sweet, balanced garden has gone from exactly as I planned, to an interesting, challenging thing.

Yes, a slim vigorous pumpkin, or is it a rockmelon, vine – insistently,  laterally twining his way. I am most fond of many lateral thinking people, so I’m delighted, if surprised to find this determined little vine in my garden. And is this not more balanced, more complete – a masculine vine to balance the planned sweet feminine garden? I move him slighty, tenderly,  as he embraces, a little too passionately for now, the Angelonia. She seems grateful for this small intervention, straightening slightly. I love vines, at one moment twining closely, the next off on some funny fearless tangent.

And since this garden shows itself to be such a ferly thing, I accommodate its adventurous spirit, experimenting with   Lisianthus in who knows what colour. And the rambling mystery of Colour Parade petunias..there will be some surprises there!  And what about some poppy seeds? Yes, such gloriously free and surprising flowers from the far North of Europe are also bound to feel at home here in my garden, I feel. For some unexpected tomato plants I make pyramids of stakes, tied at the top so the vines can freely grow upwards.

And another unusual thing. One plant that has always flourished, used all throughout my planting life, has decided that it will cease to grow. It is gone, beyond all life.  I think on this, introspection takes me over.  I conclude it  did not suit my new garden.  Like a habit, that really has no further use in my life. Just gone. A symbol, I decide, of my firm, full resolve to leave behind an old behaviour that really does me no good all. My garden as a mirror of my self.

Can I suggest you think on your garden, real or imagined, houseplants too, as a symbol, a mirror, of yourself. Think on what you plant, and why. Who inspires your gardening, your life. Is there something unexpected in your beds? Think on your garden of the future, still in your head.

Think on what you long to plant. Maybe honeysuckle vine, symbol of loyal love and friendship?  Beetroot? – Read ‘Jitterbug Perfume’ Tom Robbins on beetroot and its pollen! A bay tree, for luck and fortune? Perhaps there’s a plant taking too much time,  unhealthy or difficult that simply needs to go. Or perhaps some plants just for fun, some annuals. Maybe try new plants, new ways of gardening.

Maybe make a space and wait, see what you dream of planting there.

I am for now, wondering what my vine plans next! Climbing? Perhaps investigation of a nearby garden bed? Vines are so much fun, at one moment twining closely , next moving in lateral surprising ways.

Do I think our gardens, real or imagined, somehow mirror our selves, our lives? ……Yes, why not.  Maybe.

But what I do know is that while in our garden,  in nature, we have time to contemplate, or not contemplate, to think, or not think – on our lives. And in this Empty Space,  solutions, answers, creations, appear. And we smile and  feel strong.

Therapeutic Gardening exercises for every Lovely little bit of you

When using a spade or shovel, change which hand is at the forefront of the implement, every so often – this will enable you to dig for longer, and we all want that, right? Plus you’ll exercise both sides of your body equally.

When using a trowel, change over to use your other hand intermittently – this is like dancing, helps keep your brain agile, as well as good exercise for hands and arms.

Sing, (or maybe hum if your neighbours are sensitive. One of my gardeny companions puts Vera Lynn CD on, when I begin to sing. What’s he telling me?) When you sing your brain is fully engaged and you cease to think, so you can’t focus on worrying things. Good for easing stress. Also inspiring of  creative thoughts, as after you stop singing, you’ll probably find all manner of interesting ideas, thoughts and solutions spring to mind. I keep a small notebook for these when gardening. I now need many little bookshelves for these. (I promise Emmsie, I WILL put them onto the computer! Soon!)

Gaze at the horizon. Find a point, maybe a tree on top of a very distant mountain, or a palm tree far off into the distance and focus hard on that, until it comes into focus, maybe about 30 seconds. Then very quickly move your focus so your eyes are looking at something very close. Perhaps a lover’s Favorite Freckle on your arm? Or, if you are unblemished, maybe a tiny flower very close to you. Focus intently for 30 secs. Again swiftly move your focus to the far-off tree. Repeat this whole process 6-8 times. If you get into a  habit of doing this when in the garden, it’s great for strengthening eye muscles, and especially good if you spend lots of your working life  on the computer, or maybe reading fascinating and cute gardeny blogs (such as Nitty Gritty Dirt Man, Visionary Gleam and Helen Babbs, current Favs of mine). If you also breathe a little more deeply and slowly it’s quite meditative and calming. Take deliberate breaks throughout the day, computery folk, editors and writers,  to do this one.  Or do at least every second day. This also frees up time you may spend at optometrists – now, what to do with that extra time?

Now, I suspect you’re thinking “She said every little part of me, so what about my pelvic floor?’  Yes indeed, for men too! And have no fear, this one won’t scare the neighbours nor the Companion Gardening Cat.  This will definitely strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Here’s what you do. When standing still amongst your garden, or indeed anyone else’s garden, curl your toes downwards (Hmm, upwards would be interesting..please get back to me, with photos preferably, if you can curl your toes upwards). Hold this for about 6 seconds , then uncurl toes.  Repeat curl-uncurl about half a dozen times. Hold for more time as you get used to it.  Keep breathing – to do otherwise is risky and  a strong  pelvic floor will do no good at all,  if you cease to breathe. You may choose to do this in the company of a consenting adult. Not that they’ll know. Unless you tell them.

Not only gardeners need strong lower stomach muscles. A physio I worked with told me this one, to help prevent back injuries and help to avoid developing hernias. Just prior to lifting, brace the lower stomach muscles, just below your waistline, hold for 5 seconds, and then lift the pot, potting mix, whatever. Remember, bend your legs as you lift, don’t bend from the waist. If you always do this bracing-thing, there’ll come a time you’ll brace these muscles automatically, as you even contemplate lifting. Very good for dancing Ceroc or Lestep, too, when participating in athletic lifts and dips!

Passion for Pumpkin

made by Daria Knowles

A week ago, I developed an intense, overwhelming  desire – that would not be waylaid,  no matter how I tried –  to make pumpkin soup.  And not just from any pumpkin. This soup had to be from a pumpkin that I had grown. Oh yes. It just had to be, my dream insisted.

However, I am  presently out of  home-grown pumpkins, since I am ‘in transit’ and my garden consists of an ever-expanding   population of potted plants.  My delightfully muscular friends who move me at a regular intervals will have to really go into training to lift this lot.

Now, from my extensive gardening experiments, I believe that pumpkins will not grow well in pots. So, I had not attempted this brave task.  Therefore, no pumpkins nurtured along in preparation for this time of pumpkin need.  Oh dear.

So I thought, hmm, maybe it’s the orange-ish, pumpkinish colour I want. Perhaps that will satisfy?

Therefore, I decided to make carrot cake.  And yes,  it was delicious, with that cream cheese slightly lemony icing, that my daughter finds so delicious.  (For this,  you mix together 125 g spreadable cream cheese, 5 tspns butter with about 1 tblspn hot water mixed into it, icing sugar, and lemon juice, to taste. Spread on carrot cake. Thickly, but not too thick.)

A  consenting adult and I enjoyed great gluttony of that carrot cake with pretty cups of tea that afternoon, with the sun warming the back patio and Natasha the Wonder Cat reclining nearby, as she does so appealingly for approximately 22-and-a- half hours of each day. We ate so much, a two-hour walk at Sandgate barely touched the extra kilos!

But, no,  still I needed pumpkin soup. With a pumpkin I had grown. This thought persisted into the next few days.

I had another try, at the colour orange.  I decided to make salsa. Orange Capsicum Salsa.

I very lightly fried a small red salad onion and a chopped garlic clove.  Meanwhile, I chopped finely 4 small red tomatoes,  an orange capsicum,  one small orange chilli, coriander, a tspn Marjoram. I mixed the fried onion & garlic with the rest of ingreds, added lime juice, salt and pepper. I left it for about 5 hours to achieve perfection, then ate it with some Rosemary bread of Friendship and Forgiveness made from a recipe found in “The Villa Della Luna”.

Did you know that according to plant lore, Marjoram will help induce feelings of happiness in women?  I think that’s true, Inhale the slightly sweetish smell of marjoram and feel a smile.  And what of herbs to induce  happiness for men? I’d love  readers to tell me of their knowledge of this.

Oh yes! The Salsa was yummy, too. And a nice contrast to the carrot cake, which had left me no longing at all,  for cake, for I suspect, a long time. At least next Sunday.

But, still, I thought of Pumpkin Soup.  And GROWING PUMPKINS. Yes, this had now achieved Italicised Capital Letter status.

Now, for those of you who’ve just today joined my blog, and maybe haven’t (yet) read my first 2 posts…. as a Therapeutic gardener,  I use gardening activities as a means of addressing the needs of people I work with.  I may also use the garden as an allegory, a metaphor, when the time is right (stories of that for future blogs).

So if someone  really, really wants to grow pumpkins, I would be wondering why. I would perhaps ask “Why do you need pumpkins?” And quite often, after a question like this, a story or thought that is quite telling, emerges.  It may revolve around their garden history – past, present or even future. The garden is  a place that can encourage a person, even someone who’s reticent, to tell, sometimes indirectly, sometimes surprisingly directly, of a need that exists. Garden allegories can be a safe way to speak.

So I wondered –  why my need, my passion for Pumpkins?  I thought of their velvety golden flowers. I remembered the strange other-worldly smell of pumpkin leaves.  Their soft prickliness.  I thought of their dusty and persistent pollen.  Their spreading adventurous nature.

I thought of walking along the foreshore of Sandgate after the huge and destructive Floods of early this 2011, seeing smashed furniture, wrecked water tanks, remains of boats ripped from their moorings in Brisbane, and Pumpkins! Whole Pumpkins. I felt sorry for the farmer who had lost a whole crop, but astonished that they were intact, save for a few small dents. Are pumpkins the toughest vegetable on earth?

I remembered pumpkin vines past. My Clermont Grandmothers paddocks with pumpkin vines and paddy melons. Searching among the vines for pumpkins. What excitement when we found one, with withered stalk,  ready to pick! My mothers pumpkin vines. My Brisbane grandmothers pumpkin vines.  Pumpkin vines I had when my daughter was a little girl. Gosh! A considerable Pumpkin  History.

glass-pumpkins

And then, suddenly, there it was.  An unhappy pumpkin memory.  Of a pumpkin vine that grew in my garden in Brisbane 4-ish years ago. It was gorgeous, climbing, twining, making its way forth energetically, happily. It had flowers.  Then I came home and it was gone. Murdered.  Such sadness. My partner decided it was untidy,  unnecessary. It did not fit his obsessive need for absolute control in our garden.  I hung in a while longer, but after I left him, I’ve  been somewhat itinerant for a few years. I had a  pleasant interlude where I house-sat a house-and-yard-full of plants (over a thousand I believe) for a friend who owned a plant hire business. But itinerant I have felt, for some time.

So what my need for pumpkins told me is that I long to find and create my own home again. A place where with family, friends, a lover,  I can sit at little decrepit tables, drink Pinot grigio, or eat carrot cake,  surrounded by wild pumpkin vines, purple and yellow passionfruit, ground apple, sweet potatoes, and maybe rescued battery hens, garden quirkily,  grow the things I need and love.  And then I will have –  the pumpkins!

And did I make soup, after this epiphany? Yes, I did. I bought pumpkin and made Pumpkin Soup with Roasted Hazelnuts, my invented recipe. I invited Gordon, we ate it with grainy bread while watching the little mystery birds in the Honey Gem Grevillea in the back yard. While Natasha snoozed.

Perhaps you’ll be your own therapist, wander into your own garden, look around and ask yourself, ‘What do I need in my garden? What’s happening here?’  Please feel free to share your garden epiphany …..

Pumpkin Soup with roasted hazelnuts.

Lightly roast 1/2 cup hazelnuts.  Saute an onion and a garlic clove in olive oil in a saucepan. When onion is soft, add chopped pumpkin, couple florets cauliflower, grated medium carrot, some marjoram, paprika, soya sauce, ( I used about 4 tablespoons), a little salt, pepper, enough water so water level is about 2 inches over the level of veges, and a very small sprinkle of star anise. Cook til all veges soft. Let cool a little. Blend til a grainy texture. Heat and eat.

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I keep a container of cinnamon sticks beside my computer. When I need to refocus, sharpen my attention,  I take off the lid and deeply inhale its mysterious scent.

 Natasha, the Wonder Cat snoozing.

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“Lilith’s Love Potion Number Eleven-and-a-Half”

I’m loving my bespoke perfume – and so are my dancing partners, hence the name I invented – created by Brisbane perfumier Margi Macdonald.  She told me, ‘I thought of you dancing the quickstep, of the colour red, of vivacity. I danced as I mixed Tuberose, Guiacwood from Paraquay, coco, lime, and more. A deep, dark tone emerged, and then I added Vanilla to return the sweetness. ‘

Its gorgeous. Complex. Surprising. An alchemy of dark woody Places, rose scented smoke, almost-sweet citrus, velvet.  And made entirely of natural ingredients. Margi can be found at blogsite Some Energy Thing.

What are your earliest garden memories?

Before I tell you something..I wonder if you’d like to write down your earliest garden memory? Get a  largish piece of paper, perhaps a hand-made paper, or something very lovely. You may even want to frame this one!  Now sit, preferably outside, gaze at the horizon, remembering. Then begin writing. Be as detailed as you can….flowers, activities, people, scents, feelings, colours, places, gardens, kitchens, there may even be memories you may think bad ones. Anything garden or nature-related.

Then, put your memories aside for the moment. Right now, I want to tell you about a morning in Brisbane, at a retirement village. We sit around tables with little terracotta bowls of dried rose petals, others with lavender flowers sitting on embroidered lace tablecloths. There are tiny drawstring bags in pink, purple, orange, white.  Huge bunches of rosemary and of roses in old-fashioned vases in the centre of each table.

I ask this group of about 15 elderly retirement village residents, ‘What’s your earliest garden memory?’

Dorothy says ‘It was during the War. We had to grow veges or we had none. My job was to water the veges..heaven help me if I forgot, we depended on that food. My father made me a watering can. He punched holes in the bottom of a tin can, put a wire handle on the top so i could carry it. I had to fill it with water and walk up and down the rows of veges, make sure they got enough water.”

Joan ‘We did too, had to grow our veges. We lived in London. Where were you?’

Dorothy says “We lived in London too.”

‘Gosh! Old neighbours!’ I say. Everyone laughs.

Joan and Dorothy live in the same retirement village, a slow 10 minute walk from one another.  They have never met before, never spoken. Amazing? Somehow sad. Yet now that they have, somehow hopeful!

Alcea has exotic tales..a life lived in Peru, South Africa, Europe, travelling as her husband was employed with a mining Company. A fabulous tale of the ‘Tropicana Nightclub, with a glass dome ceiling, with trees and swings and girls swinging on these over the heads of diners!  Whew…no troublesome workplace health and safety getting in the way of Big Fun there!

But today-  together we make lavender or rose bags. Small, coloured chiffon bags to hang in wardrobes. Or to hang in the shower so the smell is enjoyed while showering. Someone’s inspired to make an extra lavender bag for a beloved great-grandchild when she visits next. ‘Great idea!’ Others do too.

I take Photos of everyone enjoying the morning. There’s much laughter as everyone wants their “best side’ shown! Me too!

Two of the residents discover they’re both named Rose. They also have never met before. One talks of her now dead mothers rose garden..tears come to her eyes. The others nod, remembering too…

Margery remembers playing with a friend, making ‘perfume’ with rose petals and water, giving some to  her mother for her birthday. Her mothers joy at receiving this.  Margery laughs, with the knowledge of adulthood. We join in.

So many memories expressed in these answers- old friendships, fun, family history and secrets, lives led, plants special to certain people, events forgotten, now remembered.

I suggest that over the next 6 weeks we could do ‘Garden Walks’- visit everyone’s garden. Have a cuppa at each garden, morning tea, warm the friendships begun today. Ask one another “where did you get that plant?’ ‘What’s your favorite plant?’ Enable time to tell more of themselves. More of their garden histories, gardens remembered, garden companions,  garden loves.

In this lovely activity today, I see the seeds of friendship sown, hear laughter, reminiscence, enable arthritic fingers to move and exercise, stimulate  memory and imagination, be involved in meaningful activities. I record all this-with photos to be given to each, at our next time together and to put into a new photo album.  A garden history together, to be added onto their life garden history. Everyone takes some roses or rosemary home.

So what was your garden memory?  What did it say about you? Your philosophy on life? Your family? Relationships? What’s in those memories for you today, to think about?

My memory is of visiting my grandmother, a quirky, slightly radical soul- yes, a gardener! I was wanting desperately to climb the very high trellis to pick beans. How daring! How forbidden! My mother would have had a fit!  ‘Why not!’ was Grandma’s response.  Something that’s stayed with me all my life. Yes indeed ‘Why not!’  Have fun, take risks, climb high. I’ve had so much fun!

Then another memory. Sadder perhaps….but maybe not, depending on how its perceived.  Shutting myself into my room.  Dramatic family life, events that were definitely not ideal, swirling around me.  Climbing out my bedroom window, picking grapes, and swiftly back in the window undetected, to read for hours. Grapes from the garden and a good book..what a great escape!  What a comfort.  Some may say, and I agree, that I learned to comfort myself when life was sad.

Blog in Bloom

Welcome to my first foray into blogdom. As my profile suggests, this blog will be an outlet for my experiences, stories, images, ideas, reflections and findings relating to therapeutic gardening, horticulture and the enjoyment of the natural world.

“Gardens are not innocent spaces” – Holly Kerr Forsyth

Eucalypt, by Holly Kerr Forsyth

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