Tag Archives: gardens

From my desk ~ Gandhi Jayanti

Today is a day for birthdays ~ my son’s; Anne-Christine’s; and Mahatma Gandhi’s. To celebrate, I am re-posting an article I wrote on this day four years ago. The original post and comments can be found here .  Enjoy.

In my garden there are native and exotic plants, long plants and short plants;

Choisya

Choisya

plants that are standard and non-standard; and some that are self-fertile and some that require cross-pollination. I have plants that are variegated, plants that are colourful

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

and plants that are plain. There are weeds, and refugees from other gardens, and some uninvited guests. Each plant has a unique history, a story to tell, and most contain, in their gene pool, the essence/quintessence of some far off land and ancient culture. There is no homogeneity in my garden, except at that most basic level of planthood; that  fundamental point, whatever it is, that makes them living, breathing plants and not living, breathing animals. Yet, despite the variety and complexity of my garden inhabitants, I find that, if I provide them with water and food and treat them equally with politeness and respect, mixed in with a little song and a few sweet nothings, they thrive. Yes,  even with the most basic of provisions, they thrive.  They don’t fight or squabble, put each other down, rip each other apart for competitive advantage or napalm each other.  They are a miracle of good neighbourliness and co-operative, companionable living, willing and eager to share their environment with birds and bees, wild life,  and humans, too.

The multi-dimensional, multi-cultural and peaceful nature of my garden, reminds me that this time, thirty-five years ago, I was preparing to start the Michaelmas Term at Oxford University. I was a  young seedling transplanted from a small island in the Pacific to one of the most wonderful cities in the world. I was about to flourish, and enjoy one of the best years of my life, within the nurturing environment of the Oxford University Foreign Service Programme.

For one academic year, I , along with several dozen others, from all curves of the world, lived and laughed and learned…. and, yes ,sometimes, drank too much and, sometimes, loved unwisely, and sometimes, cried.  We were a microcosm of the world; we were all faiths, all cultures, all social and political classes, all sizes and shapes and ages, and, as you can see from the photo, all hairstyles 🙂

Foreign Service Programme in West Berlin

Foreign Service Programme in West Berlin (and I am very difficult to find in this photo)

Our common ground was in our education and our human-ness. We were nourished and cared for by the University, our daily needs provided for, and most of us were generously supported by that most British of  British institutions,   the British Council.  And, for  that, one, much too short, year, we were, despite our differences, the embodiment of good and peaceful co-existence; the way our world could be.

This post is written today in honour of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi who was born on October 2nd, 1869.  Today is a national holiday in India. Worldwide, it is the UN International Day of Non-Violence.

http://www.un.org/en/events/nonviolenceday/index.shtml

to hear Mahatma Gandhi speak click here

Blossom in Peace

Blossom in Peace

For a good read on ‘things British Council’ and the mess of war and displacement, try Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_Manning

Michaelmas 

is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel and also denotes the first term of the academic year.

© silkannthreades

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The Colour of Spring

In my mind’s eye the colour of spring is tender:  pink and white and violet, and dimpled daffodil yellow; diaphanous blue; soft, lush green; all steeped in  warm, lemon honey sunshine.  But that is not often the reality of spring,  particularly  in Christchurch where, in September, the average sunshine hours per day number 5.5.

No, the colour of spring is more nuanced than my mind’s eye would have it. It is frequently overcast with grey,

Spring Grey

Spring Grey

and dim drizzle,  (skip to the end of the video if you  are interested in the cherry blossom)

and shaded skies.

Spring under shaded sky

Spring under shaded sky

But for all that  my spring is not mental picture-perfect, I still love it. And I will take it any way it comes.

I love spring however it is served.

I love spring however it is served;  but I don’t eat daffodils ~ they’re poisonous ~ just saying ;).

 

No longer a one trick p(e)ony

I had a little peony
Nothing would it bear
But a tiny blossom
every other year……

and even that was after many years of bearing nothing at all.

But this year my peony, which is at least a decade old, decided it was time to show me what it could really do. No longer is it a one trick p(e)ony …..

Look what I can do! I have more than one trick up my leaves.

Look what I can do! I have more than one trick up my leaves.

And in the spirit of ‘anything you (peony) can do, I can do better’… neither am I , just a one trick pony !

Because after umpteen years at the computer I have finally learned how to make a video.

Making the video, and daring to publish it, would not have been possible without the support and encouragement and inspiration I receive from my wonderful WordPress community. My heartfelt thanks to you all for being with me on my WordPress journey. I completed my third year this week.

© silkannthreades

Unboxed

Spring opens like a long-lost jewellery box.
From its musty, darkened depths, spill
gems of every hue: sunshine topaz; dewy pearls;
sapphires, sunrise pink or celestial blue; amethyst
of heartsease.

In the lingering light, my smile returns,
my soul stretches from the shadows, warm
again.

I choose pearl strands.
Gentle blossoms to bejewel old bark.

 

© silkannthreades

A salad mix from Gallivanta’s Herb Garden

Parsley,

Parsley

Parsley

sage,

Sage

Sage

rosemary,

Rosemary

Rosemary

and thyme,

Thyme

Thyme (which the cat uses for her day bed. 🙂

and, because she asked for it, rocket,

for Cynthia.

Rocket

Rocket

This rampant rocket planted, perchance, by the light of the moon and a solar-powered torch, some seasons ago has taken off, all over my garden.

It’s my most successful crop ever. Grows better than any of my weeds.

Now, to add to the mix, I have something that Cynthia didn’t ask for, but she is getting anyway; a review of her book, A Good Home, which I have just finished reading.  Here it is. ( You may also be able to see the review on Amazon)

‘Love, laughter, tears, grief, family and community form the cornerstone of any good home, and this holds true for Cynthia Reyes’ heart-warming “A Good Home.’ From the moment Cynthia opened the door to her little pink house in Jamaica until the last pages in the old farmhouse in Canada, I felt like an honored family member in every one of her good homes ( and gardens). I laughed, I cried, I rejoiced, I mourned and marveled with Cynthia and her family. And, when Cynthia’s life shattered into sharp and dreadful pieces, I sat with her in her silence and cheered her own; willed her to allow the wisdom of the old house to begin the healing of her wounds. To my great relief, the healing began. Without it I would not have had the privilege of reading Cynthia’s tribute to the power of a good and loving home. Read and enjoy, and I guarantee that, by the time you reach the last page, you will, like me, be asking the author for a sequel. If you want to know more about Cynthia and her lovely, good home of today, I urge you to visit her blog http://cynthiasreyes.com/

In my  haste to share my enjoyment of this book, I forgot to mention, in my review, another lovely aspect of Cynthia’s story; her frank account of  her ‘doubting Thomas’ struggle with her faith. It cheered me  greatly because it echoes my own faith experiences, which, dare I say it,  are somewhat akin to the salad mix in my garden. Sometimes they are over abundant, sometimes they turn up in unlikely places; sometimes they are tattered at the edges or bug-eaten, or don’t grow well at all. But the amazing thing is that there always seems to be enough faith around to nourish me when I most need it.

On Amazon you can read an excerpt from Cynthia’s book, so whilst you all rush off and leaf through that, I’ll prepare us a delicious green salad with herb dressing that we can share when you’re ready. Deal? 🙂

From Gallivanta’s Herb Garden, with love.

With love

With love

© silkannthreades

Sunday Sentiments

This week, I want to try something new on my blog;  daily posts in the style of my contemplative chap books.

So, beginning with the opening words of my favourite chap book,

Come sit awhile with me…….

 

Come sit awhile with me

Come sit awhile with me

as I send loving birthday wishes to a special friend in England,

 

'the compass round'

‘the compass round’

and remember these words by Robert Frost, “Connections and community – the basis of love – and the product.”*,

and these words, too.

“By countless silken ties of love and thought
To everything the compass round….”
Robert Frost ~The Silken Tent

*from Poem for the Day Two edited by Nicholas Albery

~

With healing and love,

Gallivanta

 

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

Recorded Time

In my previous post, but one, I mentioned that  Sheri de Grom had nominated me to join the Travel Blog. One of the questions she asked me to consider, in relation to the nomination, was this:

“What am I working on at the moment?”

The short answer to that is, nothing much; except what is coming to life, right now, as my fingers touch the keyboard.

I am, however, reading; reading  memoirs,

Memoirs of Cairo and Christchurch

Memoirs of Cairo and Christchurch

and preparing, in my thoughts and heart, a small post to add to my private, family history blog. Perhaps, in a few days hence, the time will be right to commit thoughts to virtual paper. I hope so, for otherwise I will be in danger of forgetting the stories that came to me whilst I sat with the old ones. As  Kerry reminded us the other day;  ‘Write it down, label your family treasures, be a record keeper. Do it now.’

And it is precisely because some people take serious note of advice such as Kerry’s that I am now enjoying two memoirs, written about vastly different countries, by vastly different authors, but having, in common, all the intricacies, complexity and vibrancy of family and family relationships.

The first memoir is Apricots on the Nile, A Memoir with Recipes, by Colette Rossant.

Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant

Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant

Colette Rossant’s memoir includes the years she spent, as a child, in the care of her wealthy grandparents and their large extended family, in their mansion in Garden City, Cairo. Although the Egyptian reminiscences relate mainly to the period from  1937 to  1947, the timelessness of Cairo and the equal timelessness of family events  ( deaths, births, weddings, picnics, holidays,  guests, gossip and weddings ) meant that my own experience of Cairo life, in the late 1990s, came flowing through me, again, deep and rich as the Nile itself.

Closer to home, is the memoir Eventful Years, by Sir Ernest Andrews, my great great uncle.

Eventful Years by Sir Ernest Andrews

Eventful Years by Sir Ernest Andrews

Sir Ernest, or Uncle Ernie, as my mother called him, was a Christchurch City Councillor for thirty-two years, and nine of those years he served as Mayor of Christchurch. He began his Council service in 1918 and retired in 1950. During his time in local politics, he witnessed the 1918 Flu Epidemic, the Great Depression, the 1931 Napier Earthquake, the Second World War and the Ballantynes’ fire . Eventful Years covers all these events and more, but what is not specifically mentioned is that, during his tenure as Mayor, he lived  in his daughter and son-in-law’s modest, two bedroom home, with their four children and my mother. Quite a houseful! But my mother loved living in that vibrant,  occasionally  rambunctious, household of young and not so young; helping with the little ones whilst their mother acted as Mayoress for the widowed Sir Ernest.   My mother was still living there when she married; her wedding photos were taken in the beautiful garden of that compact home,

My mother in her happy place.

My mother in her happy place.

her wedding reception was held there, and, even after her marriage, she returned to stay with the family, until my father’s family moved to Christchurch, and she was able to move in  with her husband and her in-laws.  Thus it was in Christchurch in those years. Though very much smaller in scale and wealth, not so very different to a similar period in a large, lively family in Cairo, at least as far as familial ties, and caring and sharing,  were concerned. ( I doubt, however, that my staunch Methodist relatives indulged in poker parties as  the Palacci family  did! 🙂 ).

“So, as I end this stage of the family history, sketchy as of necessity it has had to be, I again place on record what I owe to a long list of brave and honourable forbears, and especially to the example and influence of a good father and a gracious mother.” (Eventful Years, Chapter X )

I would also place on record that the last time I looked, more than a year ago, this special house in our family history was still standing but it was in an area badly affected by the 2010/2011 earthquakes.  I do not know if it remains today.

And, in case you are wondering, this is not the story I am planning for my family history blog. I have quite another in mind. This one is at the periphery of that one to come.

And, again, in case you are wondering why I removed the dust jackets of the memoirs, it is to acknowledge the importance of recording the outer and the inner, the cover and the contents, as can be seen in  The Art of the Dust Jacket;  the latest exhibition organised by our City Council funded Art Gallery in our City Council funded Central Library. ( Can I hear Uncle Ernie’s approval of these initiatives? He was not only a councillor but a  writer, an educator, a printer and a publisher.)

Finally,  for not much reason at all….save that  it is lovely, and is the result of our City Council’s long-standing support of public gardens… a  winter camellia at Mona Vale.

Like a wedding dress; a camellia at Mona Vale, another of my mother's happy places.

Like a wedding dress; a camellia at Mona Vale, another of my mother’s happy places.

© silkannthreades