The Eloquent Garden

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

Tag Archives: horticultural therapy

We are not alone

In my garden I am not alone….

My Mother is in my garden….. poignant reminder in a quirky pot I once bought her. She candidly confessed to me when packing up, years later, that she thought it a bit odd. But she kept it for 23 years anyway,  because I gave it to her.

end march 2013 103

My Mother is in my garden …..in the cutting that I took from a  frangipanni that grew in her front garden.

My Mum is in my garden … in the memorial lemon tree I planted,  because she was good at citrus trees. I think the strands of grey hair I took from her hairbrush are helping it along.

My Daughter is  in my Garden….Her favourite plant, Holmskoldia growing. Full of surprises, purple and blue delicate flowers in a beautiful unconventional mix like a Philip Treacy concoction, on a tough unstoppable plant.

Holmskioldia tettensis

My daughter’s in my garden …  in the little hand-made Grecian pot, trailing German ivy, that she made for me  at school.

Natasha’s there in my garden…. her now unused scratching post allows a hedera ivy to climb. Natasha’s  there in the dwarf Mulberry tree, in memory of the first tree she may have noticed, when arriving as a kitten at her new home 18 years ago.

My Grandmothers, Alice and Doreen, are in my garden, in the love for gardening they gave me. In the seasonal snake beans I grow.  And the Chinese gooseberry bushes and passion-fruit.end march 2013 112

My Aunty Marge is in my garden… Hoya cuttings from my recent visit and seeds from cute mystery plant.

My friend Joanne is in my garden…unusual lilies she gave me, and amazing red hoya from Northern Qld.

Jamie is in my garden…his  fabulous garden mirror encircled by concoctions of found wood in bird and snake likenesses.

My future love is in my garden…  in the Twining honeysuckle vine, symbolic of  enduring friendship and love.

end march 2013 110

Margi’s in my garden….jasmine sweetly twirling its way upwards.

Lyn is there too…her unusual exotic house warming plant.

My Father’s in my garden…flowers arranged in the Chinese vase brought back from afar so many years ago…

end march 2013 033

There’s Rosemary, in my garden. Rosemary for remembrance and memory.end march 2013 107

We are not alone in our gardens. All our friends and loved ones are with us there.

Our garden history is there.

All our hopes and dreams are expressed in our garden.

Buddleia

Who’s in your garden with you?

What dreams are there?

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.

%d bloggers like this: