Tag Archives: flowers

1928. Church flowers

Barry was having an affair. The whole village knew about it. No wonder Melissa had left him. This had probably been going on for months.

No one had a clue who the woman was that he was having an affair with. Was it someone they knew? Was it someone from out of town? No one had seen her. What they had seen, and rather regularly, was a bump in the backseat covered in a blanket. Barry’s car was always firmly in his garage with the automatic door solidly shut before who-ever-it-was undoubtedly emerged from under the blanket in the back seat and entered the house.

The village was a tight knit community. They cared about each other, and not knowing the identity of Barry’s lover was driving them crazy. Anne proposed a plan.

Barry had a large garden. This was a remnant from when Melissa ran the house. “It’s my turn,” said Anne, “to do the flowers for the church this coming Sunday. I shall go and ask Barry if we can have some flowers from his garden for the church.”

It was a brilliant plan! While there Anne would poke around for clues. Perhaps the lover might be spied. Perhaps Barry might drop a hint.

Sunday morning came. The church flowers from Barry’s garden were gorgeous. Anne was to be congratulated. But did she find out anything of interest?

“Not a thing!” declared Anne. “Not a whiff of a hint.”

Everyone pretended not to be disappointed.

Anne breathed a sigh of relief. Her secret was still safe.

1911. How wonderful to be beautiful!

I am a butterfly. Not just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill butterfly. I am gorgeous! I am dazzling! I am one of those things when humans see me they exclaim, “How could such a thing of beauty evolve out of a mere pile of sludge?”

It’s quite extraordinary how all I have to do is flaunt my beauty on a flower and cameras start to click. I’m sure if I was epileptic the flashing would cause a seizure. All I need do is gently flap my wings to attract attention. I have heard, at least I have been told, that to flap my wings too quickly would cause many a photograph to become blurred. So I flap my wings in a slow and stylish manner. Of course nothing disappoints me more if a photograph captures the moment when my wings are closed. It is a waste of exquisiteness.

One other thing about wing flapping that I have learned over the summer is to be careful not to flap the wings in too seductive a manner. Once I did that and clearly it blinded Mr. Butterfly who accidently landed on top of me. What a kafuffle!

So as you can see, I am exceedingly content with my lot in life. I have only one unfulfilled desire. I suspect it is the desire of many a butterfly – even ones not as beautiful as me – and that is to have a pin stuck through my abdomen and be put in a glass cabinet. Such a wondrous fate happens to a few chosen. How brilliant it would be to have my beauty preserved for an eternity!

Here comes yet another admiring fan up the garden path. I shall gently flap.

Ouch!

1876. Cosmos seed heads

You see those white cosmos flowers stuck in a little blue bottle? That’s the last of the cosmos in the garden. My wife planted them back in late autumn. She didn’t exactly plant them; she scattered the seed heads in a bare patch in the vegetable garden. They grew apace. Cosmos usually do. And when they began to flower they were all white. No pinks or any other shade. Just lovely white.

Wilmott had collected the seed heads when we went for a walk in the botanical gardens. That would almost be a year ago now. Usually the staff at the botanical gardens don’t leave plants in for long enough to develop into the seed stage. Perhaps they left these plants because they wanted to save the seeds. Anyway, Wilmott took just half a dozen heads. The gardeners wouldn’t know they were missing because there were hundreds of seed heads in the garden plot. That’s why we didn’t realize that the flowers would be all white. We never saw the cosmos in flower earlier on.

It’s quite illegal to take seeds or cuttings (or plants for that matter) from the botanical gardens. Imagine if everyone came along with their secateurs. The place would be denuded. I don’t know what would happen if we had been caught. Wilmott simply snapped the heads off with her fingers and quietly dropped them into the pocket of her cardigan. “We’ll find out what colour these are in the late spring,” she said.

When we got home (we usually went for a longish walk each day) Wilmott scattered the seeds in the garden, as I said earlier. She did that even before we went inside. And when we went inside she died. Suddenly. It was heart.

So you see those white cosmos flowers stuck in a little blue bottle? That’s the last of the cosmos in the garden. I could save the seed heads and begin the cycle again. Earlier I had decided I would do that, but now I think, goodness me, I can’t not move on forever.

1824. Lockdown and the end of the golden weather

Miles ago, in fact last October 16, 2019, I posted a little piece about how I was digging up my front lawn for a garden. I promised progress reports, and one appeared on November 19 and another on February 12. With winter fast approaching in the southern hemisphere it’s time for a final report. So this report covers the lockdown and the end of the golden weather.

A Lombardy poplar tree blew over on the property in a summer storm, so I was able to use it to make little twig fences around the four garden patches. It looked semi-medieval (kind of rustic I thought). In fact it was to stop the dog from walking on the gardens and peeing on the peas. The dog was well trained and never once ventured across the twigs onto the gardens. High fences for climbing peas, beans, and blackberries were also constructed.

Before long there were poppies and petunias, dahlias and gladioli, cosmos and sweet peas. You’ll notice from the pictures that I have mainly white flowers and red flowers. This is a phase I’m passing through. Don’t worry, I’ve been passing through it for twenty years and will once day get over it. Anyway, red and white look very lovely, so for the time being I’m sticking with them. At least people know what colour flower seeds to get me for my birthday!

I wasn’t expecting much from the newly planted thornless blackberries, but we got several desserts from them including one big blackberry pie! Roll on next year!

There was a bumper crop of peas, beans, shallots, tomatoes, turnips, leeks, zucchinis, and capsicums (bell peppers). The photos show just a small portion – the freezer is full! It wasn’t a good year for potatoes and cucumbers. There’s never telling why. The silver beet (chard) kept going to seed.

The sunflowers provided cheer and enough seeds to hopefully feed the wild birds through winter. I’ve just got to make an artistic bird feeder.

I wasn’t greatly affected by the lockdown because there was so much to do and so much space. I am at that age where my nanny-state government wouldn’t let me go anywhere lest I die. What a consolation that they cared! Fortunately the landlord’s daughter-in-law was the pharmacist and sent prescribed life-prolonging pills via the landlord, and the farming neighbours on all sides plied the house with eggs and meat while we provided them with vegetables. You had to check the mailbox daily because you never knew if someone had stuffed a leg of lamb in there! All was a blessing because there was no money coming in for two months!

The dog walk was a regular fixture – demanded by the dog in sunshine or rain. He likes a daily swim in a nearby lake – he thinks it’s his duty to clear the lake of geese and ducks.

For 8 weeks on these walks we gathered enough wild mushrooms for a decent side dish each day. (Eight weeks is enough!) I also made pickles and chutneys and soups for canning and freezing with stuff out of the garden.

I’ve been going to a local farmer’s sheep-shearing shed with spade and buckets. By going underneath the slats in the shearing-shed floorboards, I can fill the buckets up for the garden with sheep manure that had dropped through the gaps in the floor over the years.

The landlord/farmer asked if we would like two dying trees (lawsoniana) for firewood. So a good deal of several weeks was spent cutting them down, chopping them up, and stacking them. Still haven’t quite finished.

The landlord also asked us if we would mind knocking down an old house on the property and smashing it to bits. It’s quite fun! I go there nearly every day to wreck away. The problem is the old house is plagued with fleas. So don’t come driving past while I’m standing in the open-doored garage throwing all my clothes in the washing machine before coming into the house! Your mind undoubtedly boggles!

These days the garden is looking tired.

I have scattered thousands of poppy seeds along the sides of the road outside my gate. If luck would have it the roadside next spring will look like Flanders Field. I’ve also sown nitrogen-fixing lupins in the gardens. They look quite pretty so it seems a shame to cut them down and dig them in, but that is a job to be done this week.

Here’s a picture of the sad and lonely last dahlia of the season.

Thus ends the closing days of autumn; the end of the golden weather. This final photo is taken today through my office window! I’m feeling rather pleased!

1804. Hilarious

It was hilarious! Old Farmer Cedric was a fanatical gardener. He’d gardened for years on the same plot of land next to his house. If the truth be known, it wasn’t his land. The land belonged to the Town Council. It had been put aside for a park, but as the years went by everyone forgot it was meant to be made into a park. At least Old Farmer Cedric’s garden kept the place tidy.

No one knew exactly what he did for a living. He was out in his garden most days so the presumption was that he didn’t have a job. In fact, the presumption was that he didn’t need a job. Some people are like that. They have money coming out their ears.

Old Farmer Cedric always collected his own seeds. He would sort them into little jars. There were seeds of all sorts of vegetables and all sorts of flowers. He was so proud of his seeds. He would bring them all out on trays and place the trays on the ground as if they were a museum display. He would do that even if he was going to use just the one variety.

One year a wag – it was so hilarious – replaced some of the seeds when Old Farmer Cedric wasn’t looking. The wag took out the real seeds and replaced them with some weed seeds! Everyone waited to see what would spring up. And all he got that year was weeds. It was hysterical.

That was the year the church didn’t get any flowers at Easter and Old Farmer Cedric’s family had nothing to eat.

1730. The plot continues

Sometime ago I didn’t exactly promise but said I possibly might give a running report on my garden. So here it is with pictures. For those of you who don’t have the slightest interest in my electrifying private life, there will be the usual story tomorrow – far more coldly objective but just as true.

Thus far, our summer has been fairly cold and cloudy and windy.

You might remember, last September/October I started digging up bits of the lawn for gardens.

We made tall fences for climbing beans, thornless blackberries, and sweet peas. The blackberries will take three years to mature, but already they are laden with hundreds of yet-to-ripen (yet-to-be-stolen-by-birds) berries.

We made little fences out of poplar twigs around each garden. People say “It looks very French!” but basically we did it because the dog knows it is not allowed to step over these fences!

The cold, wet weather meant the bush beans got some sort of fungus and I pulled them out. I planted some more bush bean seeds, but the wild rabbits came in and dug most of them up! However, it has been a fantastic year for peas and capsicums (bell peppers). I have frozen a good dozen batches of peas, and lots and lots of my second favourite soup which is Peapod Soup made out of… (you guessed it) peapods!

With the colder summer weather the mâche (corn salad/lamb’s lettuce) lasted longer than usual. We now have lettuces and cucumbers coming out our ears so there’s salads salads salads. The zucchinis (courgettes) are being harvested. Swedes (rutabagas) and silver beet (Swiss chard) have been producing. The globe artichoke season is over – we devoured over 60; the Jerusalem artichokes and Chinese artichokes are coming along! (None of these three types of artichoke are related – same word, different plant). Broad beans (fava beans) are finished and frozen. Corn is in flower, as are the sunflowers, dahlias, petunias, cosmos, and sweet peas.

Incidentally our Number 1 favourite soup is Jerusalem artichoke soup! Potatoes were pathetic this year, as are beetroot (beets). Borsch is a nice winter dish so I might have to buy some beetroot. Here’s my freezer – it’s already full!

The cabbages have gone berserk and I’ve been making piles of cabbage stews for winter. Cauliflowers are coming along. Celery and celeriac are producing. We’re letting the leeks go to seed to collect. And besides, the leek flowers look very pretty in the garden! The flowers are slightly bigger than a tennis ball.

No onions. There are two things we have never been any good at growing: onions and spinach. We have no idea why. No matter where we’ve lived it’s always the same – onions and spinach don’t like us. But the garlic and shallots have been harvested and are drying in the sun (since removed to the wheelbarrow to facilitate quick removal when it rains!)

Having got a new lawn mower for my 70th birthday (the birthday I share with Saint Nicholas’ Feast Day) and a long garden hose for Christmas, life is much easier. The house water is rain water, but the garden water we share with the farm animals which is pumped to troughs and our garden tap (faucet) from a creek. So we don’t have to go easy on watering the garden. Here’s a trough just out the kitchen window!

And tomatoes! I almost forgot! Lots and lots of tomatoes! And I’ve taken to making wine, but so far haven’t used anything home-grown in the process.

Here endeth the report. Oh! And lots of rhubarb!

Also been making pickles, chutneys, jams, and stuff.

Incidentally, the best book is one I found in a second-hand shop in Asheville, North Carolina. It cost a dollar. It’s got everything you need to know about growing, canning, pickling, drying, and freezing. It’s called When the Good Cook Gardens. It was published by Ortho Books in 1974. I believe it’s available on Amazon.

1704. Snip! Snip!

Cornelius was in a good mind to ask for a divorce. He was an avid gardener and had told Constantia again and again, DO NOT CUT THE FLOWERS.

“What’s the point,” Constantia would say, “of growing flowers if they’re not for cutting and putting in a vase to brighten the day?”

“It might brighten the inside of the house,” said Cornelius, “but what about the outside?”

Cornelius did all the gardening. Constantia could have helped, but she didn’t. All she did was gather the secateurs, or sometimes the kitchen scissors, and go snip, snip, as if she didn’t have a care in the world.

Cornelius talked to his plants. They were his friends. He was convinced that talking to his plants increased their vigour, their beauty, their desire to please. Besides, they were much better company than Constantia. All she did was go out and kill the blooms.

Cornelius conceived a plan. It wasn’t one that Constantia was expecting. It came out of the blue; like a blue hydrangea or a blue larkspur. He filed for divorce.

It came as a massive shock to Constantia.

“That’ll teach you,” said Cornelius. “At least Suzie-Lou appreciates everything I do and won’t annihilate my flora.”

1619. Such a pretty garden!

Monica had what could only be described as “a pretty garden”. It wasn’t very big but it was perfect in every detail. It was all flowers, and through careful planning Monica managed to get it to flower (prolifically) for a good ten months of the year.

Monica didn’t let the time she spent on the garden come between her and having a tidy house. It was neatness to the core. Even the books in her bookshelf (which contained mainly well-read classics) were carefully arranged on each shelf from tallest to shortest. To say nothing of the cupboards! The pots were a picture. And the pantry! Oh my word! One quick peek at the rows of carefully labelled spices and herbs was enough to convince one that God had put the alphabet on earth for a reason.

And yet, Monica wasn’t a fusspot. Nor was she neurotic in her tidiness. She would enjoy making a mess as much as you and me. It’s just that, unlike you and me, she always cleaned up afterwards.

As happens to most people, she eventually died. And what a pretty cemetery with well-kept gravestones! The flowers placed on each grave were removed once the bouquet had wilted. Honestly! It was a pleasure to stroll down the row upon row of dead people and simply take in the orderliness and (dare I say it?) beauty.

And then what happened? Progress doesn’t step aside for anything. All human remains were removed to a common grave (with relatives permission of course) to make room for an extension to an industrial plant. They were reburied (in bulk) in a park nearby with a makeshift memorial saying that a list of the names of people reburied here was available for perusal at the city council office.

Eventually the makeshift memorial rotted away. Long grass and brambles took over the entire park. It was an utter mess. It was a jungle. Few remembered it was once a burial site. The world moves on.

If ever proof was needed that there is a life after death it is here… Monica was clearly pulling strings. The local community got together and created a community garden on the site. It was all flowers, and through careful planning they managed to get it to flower (prolifically) for a good ten months of the year.

1612. Pretty garden flowers

There was nothing wrong with Shelley really. She was simply a goody-goody. She was one of those girls who was always proper and correct and nobody liked very much.

When the teacher gave students the task to write about their favourite thing in the garden, Shelley handed in what she thought to be the most beautiful reflection (complete with coloured-in drawings) of the poppies of Flanders Fields. She even stuck in a poem. Most of the other girls had gone in for something ordinary, like pansies. The boys, except for Gavin, went for potatoes or parsnips. But Shelley! Oh! exclaimed the teacher, what a darling! Oh it’s fabulous, Shelley! You have a wonderful gift! I have a special reward for you!

It was enough to make you sick.

You could tell. Shelley had a crush on the teacher. She was all starry-eyed and thought Mr Cvetkovic was the cat’s pyjamas. Personally, I hated Mr Cvetkovic, especially when after school he’d take me out to the school’s maintenance shed and tell me it was our little secret.

1400. Spring Equinox

It is just two weeks before the Spring Equinox. Today it’s raining and blowing a gale. I wonder how best to “celebrate” this blog’s 1400th story.

Putting on a warm pullover and raincoat I went up the little hill at the back of my house where there are the ruins of a home. The derelict house was built in the late 1800s. Growing in the field around the house are clumps of now wild daffodils and snowdrops, all in full flower. The field was once a garden. There is a grove of camellia trees in bloom, red and white. The abandoned kitchen cupboard hides a few old preserving jars and a starling’s nest.

The farming Hamblyn family used to live there. It was there that Charles and Mary Hamblyn began their married life in 1887. The excitement of breaking in new land! From wild forest to farm! From flooding quagmire to dairy cows! It was there they had their thirteen children. Two children died in infancy, but by 1905 there were eight healthy sons and three healthy daughters! Here’s a little information on some of them…

William Charles Hamblyn: the oldest son, a cheese-maker at the factory down the road, left for France on the 9th December 1916. Killed in France on the 9th of June 1917.

James Edward Hamblyn: the second son, a farm hand, left for France on the 13th April 1916. Missing, later declared killed in France, on the 9th September 1917.Henry John Hamblyn: the third son, a farm hand, left for France on the 5th of March 1916. Missing, later declared killed in France, on the 3rd of October 1916.

Thomas Day Hamblyn: the fourth son, a farm hand, left for France on the 9th December 1916. Killed in France on the 9th of June 1917, the same day as his oldest brother.

Richard Ernest Hamblyn: the fifth son, a farm hand, left for France on the 18th September 1916. On the 28 November 1917, declared “No longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service”.

Frederick Leonard Hamblyn: the sixth son, a farm hand, left for France on the 28th September 1917. On the 4th of October 1917, classified as injured with an “indeterminate disability”. The authorities believed that four brothers killed and another ill was enough.

Before the two surviving veteran sons could return home, father Charles and youngest brother Osborne died back home in the 1918 flu epidemic.

I wonder who planted all those daffodils and snowdrops? Who established the grove of red and white of camellias? Was it Mary the mother, or the sisters Winifred, Bessie and Letitia? Perhaps it was their brother, Harold, who never went to war, or Richard and Frederick who came back. Perhaps it was the children themselves in an earlier time. Perhaps it was their father. Maybe even grandchildren.

Few remember the family of course. But there’s a remnant of memory in those flowers each year at the end of winter. In the field next to the old house a cow has had a calf. It’s a girl! It is two weeks before the Spring Equinox. It’s not a platitude to say new life begins to spin out of control.