The Eloquent Garden

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

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Chaos Rose – The Flower of the Rose Blooms in profusion in the World of Chaos

Blooming in profusion in a world of chaos – it is the Chaos Rose.

Roses have a language universal.

5 I arrive in Bosnia to visit my Daughter and to welcome me, she has sweetly placed a vase with a posy of red Roses and mint in lilac flower, in my room.

I look from the balcony of her house next morning  –  yellow roses arch to the top story, Blackberry canes heavy with ripe fruit, a green and lilac understory of  mint .

I walk this ancient city of Sarajevo and see gardens and balconies filled with roses and ivy geraniums.

Lives slightly glimpsed through windows and doorways partly hidden by cascading ivy and roses.

 

I see the “Roses of Sarajevo’, on streets where reddish resin fills mortar scars.

I see beside the streets the many, many little white gravestones of the men, women and children, who died in this invasion.

I visit the art display, “Genocide of the Bosnians 1992-1995′  painted by Dr Mevludin Ekmecic.SarajevoRose

There are Rose bushes amongst the part-ruins of the bombed Morica Han Caravanserai,    where traders and their horses could stay.

Who knows what those Roses have seen amongst the chaos of those times?

And yet, I see in close proximity, Jewish Mosques, Greek Orthodox Churches, all day hear the blended sounds of Catholic bells, Muslim call to Prayer.

 

In the Caravanserai and the Old City area, people have stalls and shops with unique locally made art and jewellery.

I buy handpainted scenes of Sarajevo and am drawn irresistibly to a brass filigree-framed gold-orange worded picture  from “Art Denici”.

A painted butterfly bracelet in brass from ‘Egoist’ for a friends daughter. Handsewn glittery table mats for a friend who adores a sequin-overdose.

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I see elderly ladies on footpaths, selling small treasures. Posies of homegrown flowers, roses, zinnias, mushrooms, beans, mysterious root vegetables. Amazingly, fruit massed with bees attracted by the super sweetness of the fruit.

Men with tiny stalls selling everything from corn on cob, to secondhand shoes and clothes and honey.

People living on their own resources.

 

In the country, huge pumpkins, garlic ropes, tomatoes deep red from the richness of the soil.

My Daughter and I wander the streets of Stolac, see huge pumpkins, take hot Chocolate while feeling the spray from the waterfall.

We walk along the river flowing under houses from Ottoman times, see giant pumpkins, buildings now completely colonised by plants and trees. Curious schoolboys ask shy questions, then give us chestnuts for the ducks.

And everywhere the  Rose. It blooms in profusion amongst the signs of chaos, the beauty, the history and wonder of this lovely, mysterious, intense, relaxing, country.

 

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They say to drink from the Fountain in the Old Town means that you will return.

On the last day in Sarajevo, I admire more roses in a garden.

The Woman whose garden it is,  has a few English words and I have only a few Bosnian words. Therefore, we must use the Language of Flowers.

“Hvala’. Yes, she understands. Signs me to wait. She cuts three roses, red, yellow, apricot and hands them to me. We smile. I take the roses and inhale deeply. ‘Hvala.’

I give the roses to my Daughter as I leave Sarajevo that day.

Sri Chinmoy says ‘when we offer a rose to someone, the beauty and fragrance secretly stay with us.’

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The roses of Sarajevo stay with me.

SarajevoRose

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.

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