Monthly Archives: December 2021

The Story of a New Zealand Garden

This is my summer garden imagining itself to be Mrs Brayton’s garden in ‘The Story of a New Zealand River’ by Jane Mander. My garden has a vivid imagination. In reality, it is nothing like Mrs Brayton’s, except in that there is “always something more to know”.

Star Jasmine
My trees and street trees make for a mini forest
Under the Michaelia
Back Path
Under the cherry tree
View from the bedroom window
Star Jasmine Pergola

“Some gardens, like great masses of complex machinery, arrest and fascinate the intellect, and satisfy one’s sense of arrangement, of clockwork management. They have no mysteries, however, no nesting places, no dream-compelling nooks. But inside that phalanx of pines above the river there grew a wonderful garden with all these things; a garden of dreams, a garden riotous with life; a garden of brilliant sunlights and deep shades; a garden of trees that hid the stars and of shy flowers peeping from the ground; a whispering garden full of secrets and suggestion; a garden where there was always something more to know.” Chapter 3, ‘The Story of a New Zealand River’ by Jane Mander. Published 1920.  New York : John Lane company; London, John Lane.

‘The Story of a New Zealand River’ is regarded as a New Zealand classic~ “… this is the first New Zealand novel to confront convincingly many of the twentieth century’s major political, religious, moral and social issues – most significantly women’s rights. Daring for its time in its exploration of sexual, emotional and intellectual freedom, the New Zealand Herald found the ending ‘too early for good public morality’. It is believed by many to be the inspiration of Jane Campion’s film The Piano.” (

My garden and I wish you dreams, mysteries, life and shade, and always more things to know, in 2022.

ps This post comes with special thanks to Liz Gaffreau who encouraged me to start reading ‘The Story of a New Zealand River’.

pps For those interested in literary connections, in Chapter 2 of ‘The Story of a New Zealand River’, Mrs Brayton mentions ‘The Story of an African Farm’ by Olive Schreiner. The Story of an African Farm was an immediate success when it was first published in 1883 and is considered one of the earliest feminist novels. It dealt, amongst other issues, with individualism, the professional aspirations of women, and the elemental nature of life on the colonial frontier.


My “Leaves of Grass”

Opus Magnum in progress
Opus Magnum, first draft

Sometimes I tease myself that my bowls and jars of pot pourri are destined to be my Opus Magnum. I toy with titles for this great work of mine and wonder if I dare to call it, “My Leaves of Grass, with apologies to Walt Whitman.” That’s long winded but my creation is long in the making and, like the wind, changes its form frequently.

For 2 years and a bit I have been pressing and curating petals, flowers, pods, and seeds for my ever growing pot pourri collection.


Most of these pieces I look upon as lines for my version of a “Song of Myself”. Carefully chosen petals, flowers, feathers, bark, and pods represent seasons and moments in my garden, and in my life. They represent my abiding love of nature, my love of family, and my love of friends. In my bowls, there are representative remnants of grief and sorrow. And as much as there is sorrow, there is also deep joy and sweet memories of places and special connections.

My pot pourri, it seems to me, holds the story of my life. Occasionally, when the bowls start to overflow, I scoop up a few lines ( aka a handful ) of my story to give to a friend, especially a friend who may need some comfort or solace. The act of taking a handful is a comfort to me, too. It puts me in touch again with the feelings and emotions that came at the time of the picking and the pressing of the leaf or the flower.

‘Petals in Time’, lovingly pressed between the leaves of an old calendar

Sometimes I tease myself about my Opus Magnum. And it makes me smile.

“Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes, I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it, ” ( Song of Myself 1892 version )

Ps: Did you know that Walt Whitman’s title, Leaves of Grass, is a pun? Leaves are, of course, another name for pages. Grass is another word for works of minor value. I think my Opus Magnum project and this post qualify as “grass”.

pps Apologies for the quality of the photos. I am experimenting with posting from my mobile phone and my mobile phone photo gallery. Like the Opus, it’s a work in progress.


Rural residence

Ramble: walk leisurely in the countryside.

This week’s ramble was at Stewarts Gully on the banks of the Waimakariri River, a short drive north of my home in Christchurch. There was some rain in the air, hence the overcast sky.

When Friends Meet

When friends meet to discuss The Brothers Karamazov Readalong , the conversation goes like this:

This was my debut as a podcast participant. It was a wonderful experience thanks to the gentle guidance of podcaster/host, Rebecca, and her chief engineer/techie, Don. Liz and Elisabeth were excellent conversationalists. I am looking forward to joining in the next ReadAlong adventure, #WarAndPeace2022.

Please enjoy our podcast conversation. And to quote Rebecca, “Until next time, dear friends, keep safe, keep reading, and be well.”

May 2022 be good to you.

ps This is also my debut on the new WP editor. I may be making a hash of things! I am wishing myself luck as I press Publish.