Tag Archives: botanic

Preparations

In my previous  post, we took a brief look in the rear view mirror. This post goes further back, to the beginning of my blogcation, in late March.

Preparing for my weekend visitor, I fill the vases…..

for the table

Borage, Salvia and Sage

Borage, Salvia and Sage in Blue

Yellow Rocket and Mexican Orange Blossom Leaves

Yellow Rocket and Mexican Orange Blossom Leaves

and for the bedroom

Monet and Chilean Guava

Monet and Chilean Guava

Update:

Today, April 13 is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. One of my favourite websites for plant information is this one http://www.monticello.org/site/visit . I would like to visit the Monticello gardens, one day.  In the meantime, I looked up sage and borage to see if they featured at Monticello, and they do. I particularly liked this reference to  sage/salvia.

“This Mediterranean shrub has been grown in gardens since at least the thirteenth century. It was thought to prolong life, even “render men immortal.” Sage was a standard item in gardens from colonial times, and was included by Jefferson in a list of “Objects for the garden this year” in 1794. The term Salvia comes from the Latin salveo meaning “I am well,” a reference to its virtuous powers. In addition to being a useful culinary herb, Sage is an attractive ornamental dwarf shrub that attracts bees and butterflies, but is not favored by deer.”

Although I do not have to worry about deer ( snails are bad enough! ) eating my plants, I love that I have a plant in my garden that  relates to health and well-being and healing. How lovely to look back and realise that I greeted my special guest with a vase of ‘well being”.

© silkannthreades

 

Sweet as…peachy-keen…..and a little delicate, too

Just before the wild,  once-in-a-century, flood, stormed through our city,

An insider's view of the Rain of the Century

An insider’s view of the Rain of the Century

and  burst the river banks ,  a friend went foraging across town and, then, treated me to some of her finds…beautiful, tree-ripened blackboy peaches…

Gathered in before the storm

Gathered in before the storm

Which are rarely found anywhere except in an old garden, or a forgotten corner of a park, or a vacant lot.

They are sweet as…in a tangy way, with a very distinct aroma and intense depth of flavour (struggling for words here…. perhaps the best description is …”definitely not an anaemic supermarket peach”).

Definitely not a supermarket peach

Definitely not a supermarket peach

They are delicious fresh from source, if you don’t mind the fuzzy, rough feel of the skin as it touches your tongue, but  they are even better when cooked, not the least because of the rich purple-plum hue that the fruit develops as it mixes with sugar and heat.

Blackboy peaches are my favourite peach for baking and stewing and juicing and jam-ing.

But here’s the little bit of ‘delicate’ associated with them.  I am not so peachy-keen on the name; blackboy. For as long as I can remember that has been their name, and, truthfully, I didn’t think much about it, until a few years ago. They were what they were, and always had been, at least in New Zealand.  In much the same way, that Chinese gooseberries were Chinese gooseberries for my parents and grandparents until, one fine day, in 1959, they discovered they were not. The gooseberry (which it actually wasn’t anyway) had morphed in to kiwifruit because the American market was not too peachy-keen to bite anything tainted with the name Chinese.  Yet, Chinese gooseberries, before they became kiwifruit, did, at least, have some logic to their name, since the seeds for the kiwifruit came to New Zealand from China, in 1904.

But blackboy peach….what’s with that name? No one, not even the plant nurseries, seems to know the whys and wherefores of this nomenclature, or how the tree came to New Zealand and became so popular with home gardeners.  Or, if anyone does know, they’re not telling their tale on the internet. I have searched and searched, fruitlessly.

Was it called blackboy because our down-to-earth ancestors couldn’t be bothered with a fancified, foreign name similar to  Sanguine de Manosque, or peche de vigne, or the rather gruesome sounding Blood Red Peach? Or did they find it confusing, or strange, to call them  Indian peaches, or stranger still,  Indian Blood Peaches ,and wanted to make them more homely and warm and friendly, so latched on to blackboy; in acknowledgement of the fruit’s skin texture and deep, rich colour. Since the blackboy peach has been a much-loved fruit, I doubt any harm or slur was intended by the name but, perhaps, if these trees and their delicious, precious fruit are to survive beyond a few backyards and abandoned sections, it’s time for a makeover. How about calling them something like,  ‘Sweet as…’  What could be more modern ‘Kiwi’ than that, to honour a fine fruit of our New Zealand  heritage?

Shall we drink to that?

Sweet as...peach tea...anyone?

Sweet as…peach tea…anyone?

A note of sympathy:

With the sun shining again, it has been  peachy-keen for some of us, today. The some of us who have dry feet and dry homes, that is, and who can enjoy the sunshine without stressing about a massive clean-up and more insurance claims. It’s been a rough 36 hours, or more, for some of our citizens, and their trials are far from over. The earthquakes have changed land levels and river beds, and flooding will  be an on-going problem in certain areas of the city.

© silkannthreades

Precious Jewels….fake or fine?

Jewel

“late 13c., “article of value used for adornment,” from Anglo-French juel, Old French jouel “ornament, jewel” (12c.), perhaps from Medieval Latin jocale, from Latin jocus “pastime, sport,” in Vulgar Latin “that which causes joy” (see joke (n.)). Another theory traces it to Latin gaudium, also with a notion of “rejoice” (see joy).” http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=jewel

Precious jewellery from my grandmother

Precious jewellery from my grandmother, perhaps inherited from her mother.

“Sense of “precious stone” developed early 14c. Meaning “beloved person, admired woman” is late 14c.” http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=jewel

My mother's autograph book; her own entry for 24 July 1933

My mother’s autograph book; her own entry for 24 August 1933

Another beloved, admired jewel in ‘my book’, who brings joy and rejoicing, is dear, true friend  Lisa Brunetti . A few weeks ago, I asked if she would permit me to use one of her paintings to illustrate a poem  written by my daughter. Yes, of course, she said, and sent, not one, but eight, beautiful photos of her work. Such generosity of spirit and kindness warms my heart to its core.    And, for those of you who already know Lisa, sending so many samples via her ultra slow internet connection was not a simple matter. It took time and considerable effort. Thank you, Lisa, friend with a soul as beautiful as a rare Ecuadorean Emerald.

My daughter’s poem needs some final editing before it is ready for posting on my blog, but here are a few lines, to put a sparkle in your eye, until the final version is available.

Lark of lizards, plastic little gecko,
how I love the echo of your calls,..

…so often past the midnight have I seen
you, gaudious gelatinous-fingered gecko,
munching moth-mouthed on the meshing screens

Geckos and their lives were an integral, and much loved,  part of my childhood in Fiji. As they talked and stalked their way along ceilings and walls, or simply rested, stilled and waiting,  they kept us company. On long tropical nights, we watched each other, and together listened to the radio and each other’s words. My daughter, in Cairns, is learning to enjoy and understand  their companionship.

No geckos for me, on this cold, hail-ridden, third day of autumn, in Christchurch. Instead, this  bright jewel came to my window during a brief respite in the storm. I smiled at the way it looked at me, and  I said “Kia Ora, welcome to my window.”

True Friend or Autumn Leaf?

True Friend or Autumn Leaf?

But, then, I wondered if I had chosen the wrong greeting because, it seems to me, this little one may not be our native Orthodera novaezealandiae,

but its South African Springbok rival, Miomatis caffra,

that was accidentally brought to New Zealand in the 1970s.

The endemic New Zealand praying mantis …  is currently wide spread through out most of the country, but faces the threat of at least local extinction in many areas because of the competition from the Spring bok praying mantis. If nothing is done to protect our native praying mantis, within a few decades we may no longer be able to observe its intriguing way of life in our gardens. http://www.canterburynature.org/species/lincoln_essays/nzmantis.php

Pray tell me are you jewel or thief?

Pray tell me are you jewel or thief?

Pray tell me, someone,  if this gorgeous creature is jewel or thief? True friend or autumn leaf?

[I wonder if our rugby board knows that the rivalry between South Africa and New Zealand has taken a leap off-pitch, and New Zealand isn’t winning. The Spring Boks are taking out the All (Green) Blacks big time, and on our own home turf.]

One last diamond to add to my post:

Before this month ends,  I will receive a visitor from across the Tasman Sea. We haven’t seen each other for more than a decade. In fact, we have seen each other only once or twice in the last 45 years. But we are bonded by a shared childhood and our friendship has endured. I wonder if either of us understood the sturdy ring of truth in these words, when Jennifer penned them in my autograph book on 15 June 1967, in our island home, Lautoka, Fiji.

A Diamond Friendship

A Diamond Friendship

Mother's Autograph Book 1933

Mother’s Autograph Book 1933

May your friendships be blessed jewels in your life.

© silkannthreades

For the love which from our birth….

I am thinking about love…..and our expression of it.  I am thinking about Bishop Valentine before he became Saint; about Saint Valentine before he became Valentine. I am thinking about who he was,  or  who they were , and what they may  have become….the dream sales team for the business of Valentine’s Day?  🙂  But, mostly, I am thinking of love.

Not romantic love so much as the love which is extolled in  the hymn, For the Beauty of the Earth;

The love which from our birth over and around us lies“….the “human love of brother, sister, parent, child”….the love from “friends on earth and friends, above“, the love that comes from “gentle thoughts and mild”.

And I am thinking of how that love finds its form in the most unexpected places,

Unexpected loving thoughts

Unexpected loving thoughts

where, for the most part, it sits in quiet, patient, unobtrusive abundance,

waiting to support us, when called upon,

and ever willing to send us gentle, trans-formative love letters ~

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” Thomas Merton

love letters that help us to see that the loving heart, contained within,

can be released and applied, like nature’s salve, to heal the  woe of the broken landscape.

Bindweed holding it all together

Bindweed holding it all together; making the most of the possibilities

© silkannthreades

Dear Friends

In my previous post, on Joy and Woe,  your loving, supportive, compassionate comments brought me tears, laughter and a huge amount of joy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This post is my Valentine’s love letter to you all.

The Blessings of Saint Valentine (whoever he may be!), chocolate, flowers , gentle thoughts and mild, and love, be with you all.

Gallivanta.

Postprandial cogitations or what to do with the leftover trimmings

This post is an unabashed excuse to use the term ‘postprandial’. For, after my visual  feasting on so many lovely, virtual Thanksgiving dinners,  I am in a postprandial state of being; which means, in my case, replete, satisfied, satiated and inclined to tread the hours, softly, softly, ever so softly.

Yesterday was particularly postprandial , even though it was some 36 hours since I first sampled the smallest imaginary sliver of sliced turkey (one has to sample judiciously when such a huge repast is on offer via the interweb)……and I tried to move in a quiet and orderly fashion through the tasks of the day: a little internet banking, some bills to pay; some online shopping; a few cards to make; a birthday card to write; and, then, a tiny time of tidying and trimming and weeding in the garden…….which, although brief, suddenly seemed lack lustre, so I did this, in a moment of whimsy : I scooped up all the clippings and trimmings of Portuguese Laurel, heuchera, fern and borage and teucrium fruticans ,  as well as a few handfuls of sage and mint, and placed them in my precious Royal Doulton bowl.

Dressed Up Leftovers

Dressed Up Leftovers

And, I thought, “What fun!”,  and  proceeded to post this photo as my Facebook profile.

Whereupon, one of my astute and very practical-minded Facebook friends, who knows my garden well, immediately commented “Looks like a lovely bunch wild growth! ”  Oh, how I  laughed, for no matter how I might try to style my floral/foliage arrangement, its base material is just that: the wild (over) growth from the garden; the trimmings and leftovers that were originally destined for the compost heap, before my imagination grasped them and gave them another life.

However, laugh as I did over my friend’s reaction to my  act of whimsy ( or was it folly?),  I did think this: that we can’t always fill our vase of life  with beautiful, elegant, perfect roses; sometimes we simply have to do the best we can with the leftovers, the dregs, the crumbs from the table. And, why not, make the most of them; my dog thinks they’re delicious. He spends half his life begging for them 🙂

© silkannthreades

Perfectly Lovely and Blessings Two

I have had a fragmented sort of day. I don’t know why; a case of general Monday-itis, or, perhaps, a failure to concentrate on the task at hand; or, more disturbingly,  not  being quite sure what the task at hand should be. Whatever the case, I feel that, if I had been sensible enough to write a to-do list, I would have completed precisely minus one on the list.

Mmmm, that’s a bit harsh…..I did fill the flower vases, afresh,  which is a fine occupation for a Monday morning. I was particularly pleased that, today, there was enough in the garden  to bless two vases with their first flowers in my home. Both vases have had former lives  and came  to me when flowers were not so plentiful. This day  was their day to experience their true calling 🙂

First Blessing : this  striped vase was found by a friend in a half price sale at a St Vincent de Paul thrift store. She thought it would be a cheerful addition to my house and so it is.

Roses and Ivy, Heucher and Parsley

Roses and Ivy, Heuchera and Parsley

Second blessing: this  vase is the large Royal Doulton bowl, which I featured in an earlier  post . It was given to me by my uncle and used to belong to my grandmother.

Peruvian Lily and Portuguese Laurel

Peruvian Lily and Portuguese Laurel

I filled the bowl with Portuguese Laurel and Peruvian Lilies. Portuguese Laurel is properly known as  Prunus Lusitanica

Peruvian Lily is the common name for Alstroemeria

Quite fun to realise that I had, unintentionally, combined flowers with the same first letters. Perfectly lovely…….even if the bugs have been finding the Alstroemeria perfectly lovely too 🙂

© silkannthreades

All the parts of the whole picture

About a year ago, I observed that, when I brought flowers in to the house, I often placed them against the backdrop of a favourite photo in a book

or against the landscape

of a print of a  loved painting.

Heuchera, Hebe  and Catmint

Heuchera, Hebe,  Catmint and  Yorkshire painting

Once I realised what I was doing,  I decided that the overall effect, of my relatively thoughtless juxtaposition of plant and paper, was pleasing. And I felt that  I could add another layer to my floral tableaux  by creating a digital image of them; one that made them seem as though  the real and the printed record were almost fully integrated.

So I began my   image making, recreating and rearranging the scenes before me. And, although the results are of variable quality, I have  great  fun messing about with flowers and photos and other people’s beautiful artwork.

An Impression of Clematis and Catnip

An Impression of Clematis and Catnip

Fragrant settings

Fragrant settings*

Today, I am finding this creative activity  beneficial as well as  fun. It is helping me to focus, to be mindful, to be at one with the  Serenity Prayer   ….. Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other….

or  to smile at its amusing Mother Goose version:-

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.

The other day, I mentioned that my mother was unwell and needed a wheelchair. She is now in hospital, undergoing tests/scans, receiving physiotherapy treatment, and help with pain management. Yesterday, she was walking again with the aid of a walking frame and hospital staff. This is all happening thousands of kilometres from me but I know that  she is in good hands. When I spoke to her on the phone the other night, I could hear, in the background, laughter and kind voices encouraging her into wellness.

Everlasting Ivy

Everlasting Ivy*

Floral notes :

In Britain, the ivy is the last plant of the year to bloom and is in full bloom by early November. It is a welcome source of nectar as the colder days advance. It was once looked upon as a woman’s plant. In New Zealand ivy is  considered, by many, as a garden nuisance. Since I can’t seem to eradicate it, I have decided I may as well put it to use in my vases. And, if I ever take to drink, it will supposedly protect me from drunkenness.

Resources for this post:

The Floral Year by L J F Brimble, published by MacMillan& Co. Ltd 1949 and dedicated, amongst others, to Enid Blyton

The Garden Design Book by Anthony Paul and Yvonne Rees**

Tricia Guild’s Natural Flower Arranging by David Montgomery and Nonie Niesewand *

© silkannthreades