The Eloquent Garden

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

Category Archives: therapeutic

Gardening, a cautionary tale – Living with the Alien, homage to Crazy Russian Hacker, Crocodile tea-towels, and reflections on cults

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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.

crazy little thing called change

Humans seem  fascinated, sometimes obsessed with change. In the name of change, humans embark on some fabulous,  interesting, and some might say quite crazy behaviours.

I’ve just read “Maddadam’ by Margaret Atwood. Now she’s an author who’s  terrific at imagining change. She  takes our fantasies, our dreams of change and details them in dystopian comedy-dramas. “God’s Gardeners” in charge of the world. Hmm. Not so practical, it turns out. And that marvelous  fantasy that males and females have –  ‘if only we knew exactly when someone wanted to mate with us’ –  that would save us so much time and heartache we think. It’s wonderful what Atwood does with that one. I won’t spoil it for potential readers, but it does involve spontaneous colour change of body parts.

And plants and animals  change too in surprising, fascinating ways.  Convergent evolution, where two unrelated species take on the characteristics of one another. Scientists suggest this may be explained by such things as shared climate which accounts for similar changes in both the species.

Then, Plant Chimeras, the shape shifters of the plant world are spontaneous mutations that create a bloom pattern called a pinwheel. This pattern is genetically unstable, but sometimes if you take a stem cutting,  a plant with the same flower can be reproduced.IMG_5354

Or you could take a cutting from a variegated plant and see what happens. What fun, being the creator.

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You could deliberately try to replicate nature’s changes. And  perhaps you could also take an early morning garden walk and see what change has happened in your Garden, think about that change and how it relates to your life?

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For isn’t our garden a projection of our dreams, fantasies, desires for change, desire for self-sufficiency, desire to control our environment or be at one with it.

Clare Marcus Cooper believes that our house is a mirror of our selves. Certainly a garden is an extension of that house.

A therapeutic gardener may ask you “what do you like in your garden? Why have you planted this? What do you like? What do you want to change? And in answering these questions, you will find some interesting questions and answers about your life. It’s Rainer Maria Rilke who says “we should try to love the questions themselves”, not only the answers.

Let’s see what my garden tells of. Last week I discover a delicate, yet at the same robust-looking trailing vine has mysteriously appeared under my papaw tree.  Its bright green heart shaped leaves and  clear white flowers surprise me, but  I welcome it into my garden and wait to see what it will do. Will it blend with my garden amiably, will it fit nicely with my other plants? Will it need curtailing, or shall I be happy for it to twine its way among the slightly restrained experimental wildness that is my back garden. Time will tell.

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And there’s a new  dwarf zinnia, from Spring-scattered seeds, now a compact bush surprising me with many coloured flowers. Unlike the parent plant which, from memory, was pink. I think of Wally, now gone from this world, whose garden they came from. I think about him, wish I’d asked more questions, different questions.  Changes like this often bring regrets. But also the chance to change the way we are,  ask the questions while we can.

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Twelve months ago, I put up a wire mesh frame so my outdoor sitting area could have a green wall to shade from summer afternoon sun. I chose to plant a honeysuckle vine, symbol of enduring love and loyalty in friendship and love. And now it’s lush and twining, fulfilling my imagination in planting it.

I placed a seat in my garden right in front of the wall of honeysuckle, for when I want to contemplate this vine and its meaning for me. What’s important in friendship, in loveship. What things help friendship stay through life’s changes.

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And what of my cute, maintained front garden? I had to take out the pepper scented geranium, it just wasn’t suited.  Which left a space for something…..What a change in my garden two Flamingos make!

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How else can the garden help us change? As Sarah, fellow blog-hopper of the Health and Happiness Collective  quoted in her blog the Wellness Ninja “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.’ If work weighs you down, would a bunch of flowers on your desk help you and others change the way you look at situations? Would humming a song, my favourite for such occasions “Blue Skies,’ not only cheer you up, but confuse those workplace bullies? Would buying a new house plant while on your lunch break help your mood?

Perhaps planning to get your garden project moving along would give you a new outlook, get you in touch with what’s important for you. With what your dreams and desires are.

Would starting your day with a short garden walk help you change the way you look at things? Would planting a passion fruit vine be what you need?IMG_5298

Not such crazy ideas for change, I think. What about wearing a green wig? A little shape shifting?   Oh maybe that’s going a little too far.. but then again maybe not…….is seeing the world from another perspective,  shape shifting our brains?

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Versatile..what a relief!

How wonderful!

…After years of confusion, thinking I am scattered/focussed; intense/frivolous;  nutty/sane;  intrepid/fearful; cool/excitable; blunt/subtle;  honest/dishonest; imaginative;  conservative/ lateral; dancing to distraction/introspective; flexible/stubborn; and Overly Fascinated with — the meaning of gardens, irony, alliteration. With history, mystery, strange dark Finnish films, chocolate scrabble, idle and not-so-idle chat……..

Kevin at Nitty Gritty Dirt Man has solved the mystery, and set my mind at rest…..

………………….apparently I am VERSATILE!

Thanks Kevin for being on his list of those nominated for the Versatile Bloggers Award. I don’t know if this nomination had Capitals, but for here, I have chosen to give it some.

Anyway,  here are some of the many things that I find Overly Fascinating, just on the verge of full moon early in February 2012……

The Language of Flowers….Once there were no Texts or emails and people relied on letters and words to stuff up communication between the sexes. Before that, writers claim, would-be lovers communicated their feelings with bouquets of flowers, with each flower having a specific meaning.

These bouquets were called Tussie Mussies. I can only imagine the monumental  miscommunications these must have caused! A peony posy and a few dandelions misinterpreted and you could have found yourself married to the wrong man…or a woman! Or two men! Or celibate for life! Gosh! …Makes my love life seem tame really……

What inspired these thoughts? A book by Vanessa Diffenbaugh  ‘The Language of Flowers’ …about love and fear and flowers. Vanessa wrote “My skin lifted under his gaze as if the surface of my body were reaching toward him without the permission of my mind.’  How I wish I’d written that!

A fine way to begin the weekend with The History of Madness in Brisbane a local history session at Brisbane Square library this Saturday…

Hmmm, I’m thinking of differing historical views of madness….

Friends Hospital in Philadelphia described madness as ‘people deprived of the use of their reason’, and treated patients with active therapeutic gardening.

Yet Sam Harris, after publication of ‘The End of Faith’, received tens of thousands of emails and letters from people of all faiths and doubt, ‘who believe that the most important moral questions facing humanity today are not able to be answered by reason.’

What about the passion of Luang Pu  Boung Leua Souriat who depicted his unique vision of spiritual life in an astonishing giant size cement statue garden near Nong Khai in Thailand. Do you find this reasonable? And what of his devotees who continue to maintain his vision after his death?

And Edward Wilson’s Biophilia Hypothesis described our affinity with nature as innate, essential, part of our biology.

So maybe those who don’t regularly go into nature are in danger of madness?

Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in The Woods’, describes children who don’t spend time in nature as having Nature Deficit Disorder…

And Gardeners….what of our madness? We lose sense of time and probably reason, as we give ourselves over to the passion of gardening. We believe our plants communicate with us. We fall in love with plants,  wonder where and how l they’ll fit in our gardens? But we love them,  find a place, learn their needs.

Sometimes gardens have their way. They create a living work of art. This one’s at Ayutthaya in Thailand, the head of a statue enclosed within the roots of a Ficus tree.


Gardeners are taken with strange ambitious projects that consume us and make our friends smile fondly (mostly…) and maybe wonder just a little, as we confess our sudden inspiration to grow a…

Frangipani Forest ! Yes indeed. I had many frangipani cuttings, and a sudden vision overtook me! Of a colour wave of  frangipanis, kept to 2 and a half metres high, a perfect canopy of fragrance and colour, their deciduousness to remind me of cooler climates, and maybe my Grandmother who grew them…. Madness?  Memory?  Inspiration? …Sometimes inexplicably linked.

And People with Passion ….inspire us to lateral or amused thoughts, to keep us mainly sane….

Think of visionary gleam, one of my fav bloggers, who honours plants and flowers that look like football teams. Oh, have a look at that one! Fabulously nutty!

And me so thorny……now he ‘s a funny one! But is he mad?  Not in blogging world…maybe blogging is  therapeutic? And if therapy is needed, is blogging madness? Oh I can see where this is heading….

Then appreciation of delicious, a blog by a Filmmaker, of things pleasing to her eye. Some quirky, amazing finds from creative talents in art, photography, fashion. Keep an eye on the progress of the author’s films, too. Think on ‘The Storymaker”  and latest ‘Campers’ – Art that ‘has the capacity to generate different meanings without ever being completely consumed.’ (Umberto Eco.)

Now over the last few months, I have come to appreciate the concept that neighbours may potentially become confused when aspects of adjoining lives are glimpsed in cosy moonlit backyard…chocolate scrabble playing, idle and not-so-idle chat, pumpkin picking rituals, memorial ceremonies for my Companion Animal, practicing Modern Jive, other such fanciful-ness.

So, to avoid neighbourly confusion,  I have become Overly Fascinated with…

                          Garden Rooms, the concept of creating private, enclosed spaces within a garden..using hedges, vines, green walls. Now I believe I read that in Germany and Switzerland it’s mandatory for all roofs that are flat to be Green Roofs, now that’s just sensible, and lovely.

                                                 My Garden Room is to be purple Honeysuckle climbing sides of a pergola, with a golden Duranta hedge on other side.

Another has begun to be walled with jasmine and passionfruit, completely climbing over this immovable

children’s fort that came with my new bare backyard. My very own Folly, complete with Ship’s Wheel.

And as there are other things in life than gardening….

I am also Overly Fascinated with…..

Becoming a versatile, playful Ceroc dancer..maybe even sultry if I can be bothered going to any workshops.

And swimming in a tidal swimming pool to cool this Summer Heat.

And making Alzira’s Russian Salad

mix together: 1 cup beetroot, cooked & sliced. 1 kipfler potato, cooked & cubed. 2 hardboiled eggs, cubed. 2 tablespoons pickled cucumber.  few drops of lemon juice. approx 2 tablespoons salad cream.

and reading  ‘Damned’ by Chuck Palahniuk, which begins ‘Are you there Satan? It’s me, Madison. I’m just now arrived here, in Hell……’. Hilarious, contentious. And he wrote ‘Fight Club’ too, among many others.

This has reached the tipping point of versatility…..I hope you enjoy this in several readings and tell me what you think……

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.

Mourning in The Garden

Yesterday, I watered Avalene’s garden. I was alone there for the first time, because she died last Monday. She was 85. I feel sad that I can’t garden with her again. I always smiled in anticipation when I was driving to garden with her.  She loved gardening and was fun to garden with, we laughed, she engaged me with her beautiful full smile, conversation, talk of her family, daughters named from the garden – Primrose and Marguerite, her son, a granddaughter in Great Britain.

Avalene’s garden was full of history….well over 55 years of history. Some she shared with me, of beloved plants, difficult plants, plants given to her by her daughters, cuttings given and found. She called me when she began to suffer lots of pain in her hands. She said she needed me so that together we could do the garden jobs she wanted to do, but couldn’t quite manage.  But never did she give up. She stayed determined to always do some gardening beside me, and together we’d wheel the bin over, she’d carry plants, water, do as much as she could, while directing me.  Always excited and grateful when I would bring a few plants, cuttings, offerings from my worm farm.

I remember the day Avalene found the tiny green frog, on her Strelitzia. She was very excited, as she hadn’t seen him, (perhaps her?) for quite a while. She told me to be very careful not to disturb him and maybe he sensed his safety, as he stayed unperturbed while I pruned near to him.  I think of and immediately smell intense honey scent of alyssum..purple, white, pink, and some in between. Is there a specially sensitive  part of our brain that remembers the scent of flowers? Does anyone know that? Please let me know if you do.

So it was sad, being there alone. Avalene’s spirit is still there though, in the mix of sweet peas, passionfruit, lettuce, chilli bush, blue plumbago, coleus,  white crocus, curry plant, pink and yellow Star above Star Camellia, pink  and purple bromeliads, brunsfelsia, apricot geraniums, hippeastrums, so many more. A garden as practical, as many faceted as its owner. I picked bright red chillies as a memento.

I plan to take some cuttings of her Camellia, Geranium, Banksia Rose, for her family. Then I thought of my own family, my beloved Daughter, living in Great Britain,  who left to go home again only a short week ago.  I thought of the lovely and varied  time we had together.  I also mourned her leaving, as I watered.

The garden is a good place to mourn. And a good place for comfort. Gardening is a continuous cycle of endings and beginnings and who knows which is which.  Plants finish a flowering season, but are no less beautiful when deciduous or in seed.  Seeds are hope and promise of more of  life to come.  A new plant with many possibilities –  a different hue, size, flower shape. Or perhaps sown in a different place?  In the Garden is always hope.  Avalene’s funeral service reading had 2 lines that brought tears, yet at the same time comfort, thoughts of the future: ‘ Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her, Or you can be full of the love you share.’

I think about Avalene’s Funeral ,  where we gathered to honour and celebrate her life. I learned many more things about her, understood what an inspiration she was to her whole family. I admired her, still more.  I ask myself, do I live my life in such a way that I will be missed and honoured as much as she was.  Now, there’s something to think on. I learned that she went on road trips only a few years ago, with 2 other women, to Darwin! On the road trips they loved listening to “Bright Side of the Road” by Van Morrison. As we walked out from the Garden Chapel where her funeral service was held, we listened to that song, and felt lighter, somehow.

This is the poem written on the back of the order of service:

“Into the freedom of wind and sunshine

We let you go

Into the dance of the stars and the planets

We let you go

Into the wind’s breath and the hands of the starmaker

We let you go.”                           (Ruth Burgess.)

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On Saturday, I saw ‘Tree of Life” with 2 dear friends. Gosh!  we talked for 3 hours  afterwards-OK, not all about the film. But surely themes inspired by that…Love, loss, death, dating,  food, dancing……I liked the film’s lack of dialogue, I thought it was like being in the garden with someone-  where sometimes silence is more eloquent, more able to provoke thought.

In the film I enjoyed how we looked upwards  through the  trees branches, and looked down through the  branches from above. I felt the film was perhaps partly about out our  innate need for connection with nature – for comfort, solace, for answers.

Crikey’s Review of “Tree of Life” said “tantalisingly imperfect”  and I will partly borrow that –  Mystical, eloquent, sparse dialogue,  tantalisingly imperfect- that’s my description.

How did you feel about ‘ ‘Tree of Life?’  How did you respond?

Soon I will take afternoon tea with Alzira.  I’m taking Thai Rice pudding….OH! The voluptuous smell of Cardoman as I stirred slowly. I could not resist eating a spoonful, OK maybe a few more!

Cardoman is such a mystery…it smells a little like eucalyptus when seeds are intact.  Then when crushed and cooked, completely change to a smell that’s sultry, powerful, spicy……….

ingredients:

100g/3 & 1/2 ounces  arborio rice

1 cardamon pod, split, and seeds crushed.

300ml/7 fl Oz coconut cream

150ml/10 fl oz  water

2 tablespoons honey

coconut flakes and 1 tblspn flaked almonds – to decorate top.

Method:

Put all ingredients except those for decoration, in a saucepan. Stir slowly and constantly till all liquid is absorbed  and rice is tender.

Serve warm, with decorations on top. You can serve alongside mixed berries. Definitely serve with cream (or yoghurt if you are feeling very virtuous.)

And….this cutting from a magazine mysteriously appeared on the wall above my computer…“Every act of Creation is first an act of destruction.”    Pablo Picasso .  To my daughter,  who put that here for me to find….thank you for that inspiration.

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