Tag Archives: community gardens

Creative Genius

Yesterday was the sort of sublimely beautiful, fair-weather day that makes me want to drop everything, hop in the car and  drive forever. Maybe not quite forever, but at least for as long as it takes me to explore my country from end to end and side to side.  But, being the annoyingly responsible person that I am, all we managed to do was a couple of hours of wonderful exploring of the Styx River, and, then, we dutifully came home, in time to bring in the laundry, make the dinner, feed the animals, wash the dishes, dry the dishes and turn the dishes over….actually, we have a dishwasher but that doesn’t make the domestic routines any less domestic or routine.

Normally, or nine times out of ten, I can find a way to be unbothered by the mundanities of housekeeping but, after our gallivanting, I found myself in an unusual, one time out of ten state of grumpiness. My grumps were brought on, not so much by the curtailment of my freedom-travelling aspirations but by reading about a prolific, long dead male composer. (The reading done, between potato boiling and fritter frying, and on top of  a week of reading about  famous, male writers). And I thought,” Yes,Mr Composer, your music is awesome. You are a creative genius BUT your creativity flourished because someone fed you and cared for you and allowed you to be what you needed to be. Someone like me, Mr Composer. So what if you wrote 50 symphonies and 10 operas, or whatever. Given the right conditions, I might have done the same (that’s seriously, seriously, flawed thinking), but, instead, my oeuvre, my mistresswork is some 30,000 meals, 21,000 loads of washing, hundreds of cakes, dozens of biscuits, thousands of shopping lists and exquisitely made beds, multitudes of beautifully pressed shirts……..so score that Mr Genius Composer, if you can! It will take you thirty years or more, especially if you have one hand stirring the porridge and one eye in the back of your head watching the children. Then, just when you think you are done, you’ll find you have an unfinished symphony because Mother has fallen and needs hours of gentle nursing, AND you still haven’t taken out the rubbish for the umpteenth time. Put that in your fiddle and play it, Mr Composer, you!”

So, having traversed that hump in my grump, I sat down and listened to the sublime music of Mr Composer (truly, truly, I can never equal your genius)  and started to research where our little gallivant had taken us.  Our first stop was  the Janet Stewart Reserve on the Styx River; a destination I chose on the spur of the moment, as we were leaving our driveway. This was our first visit to this Reserve.Janet Stewart ReserveIt was created as part of the Styx River Project which has, amongst its aims, the creation of a source to sea experience and the establishment of a viable spring fed river ecosystem.The Janet Stewart Reserve, covers land which runs parallel with the  Lower Styx Road for approximately a kilometre. It also borders part of a very busy main road; Marshlands Road.

The Reserve is home to a specially designed and planted harakeke garden. Harakeke is a type of flax which is used for Maori weaving. The garden is considered a taonga, or treasure, for the Christchurch weaving community.The Harakeke Garden

At the entrance to the garden there is a fascinating woven sculpture.Woven Sculpture

When you approach the sculpture you realise that the story of harakeke is crafted into the structure.  Welcome

As you read, you can hear traffic in the distance but the dominant background music comes from the birds, hidden in the bushes and the thick vegetation on the banks of the river. Birds, where are you?Wetland

The Janet Stewart Reserve is a place of creativity, conservation, calm, beauty, nourishment, renewal and responsible stewardship. Who then is Janet Stewart whose name honours this place. A politician, a composer, a musician, an opera diva, a writer? Nope, not all. Janet Stewart was that greatest of all creative geniuses; a Mother.Nothing more, nothing less.

When Edmond Stewart died in 1993, he bequeathed his land to the City Council for the purposes of creating a reserve to be named after his hardworking, resourceful mother, Janet Stewart.   The Janet Stewart Reserve is a son’s loving tribute to his Mother.  A living symphony of sound and light and wonder, and music to my ears. Next time, I have the grumps I will remember Janet Stewart and her Reserve and all will be well.

Blessings and the Garden

Today the rain is torrential. I have been watching the rain send the roses and  broadbeans sideways. And grimacing at the sight.  The other day the sun was literally cooking all the seedlings. In the space of a few days we have gone from one extreme to another.  It’s a tough life being a garden.

In the midst of the downpour, the postman brought the mail to my door; something that he doesn’t normally need to do. But, today, he had a large packet for me that would have stuck out of my mailbox and become a sodden mess in a matter of moments.

So that was a blessing; the first one. Both the mail and I were spared a drenching.

The packet contained a  lovely calendar made by the Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner school in Sydney. And that was my second blessing for the day. A beautiful calendar for 2013.Here's to another year!

And here is the third blessing ….on the end page of the calendar there is a delightful verse , “Blessings on the Garden”. I thought it was exactly the tonic that the garden and I needed on this wild weather day. It is a reminder of the rhythms and seasons of the natural world. I quote:

We thank the water, earth and air

And all the helping powers they bear

We thank the people loving and good

That grow and cook our daily food

And last of all we thank the Sun

The light and life of everyone.

We will welcome the sun when it comes by again.

Packe Street Community Garden

Another glorious day.

In the morning we planted potatoes and two tomato plants. One of the tomatoes is called Antarctica and the other Outdoor Pride. New varieties to me. I am amused that someone names a tomato “Antarctica”.

In the afternoon, when the heat of the sun had diminished a little, we went to the Packe Street community garden. It was a small mission getting there, thanks to detours and roadworks.


The garden now has raised beds made from bricks from earthquake damaged buildings.


I liked the strawberry plants (and the self sown potatoes) sharing space in the old tyres.



On this trip to the Packe Street garden I took a proper look at the mosaic path. It has been there for many years but this is the first time I have really looked at it. Gave me some smashing ideas ( sorry, couldn’t resist that!)

This hand written notice gave me a smile. It didn’t prompt me to weed however.

No gallivanting is complete without a rose and a little plant so here they are: a rose that is climbing high into a tree and a little blue flowered weed snuggling under the park bench.