50 SHADES OF GREEN

Sprawling red bromeliads climb a poinciana

I AM looking at my hands as I type this, wincing at the many stings, scratches and nicks on them that a day of clearing, clipping and yanking unruly fenceline growth  has wrought. Always only a sporadic garden glove wearer, I can only blame myself for their battered and stained appearance. Yes stained. These hands are a peculiar hue of purple and green, with lime tracings around the nail cuticles.  So that’s where a green thumb comes from! What was I handling that left its mark so?

My poor, unlovely hands carry a blotchy imprint of the myriad foliage that must be kept in check in our garden and all  the more so because recent rain has given it an unseasonal boost.

As I bent and tugged and loaded up the wheelbarrow, I ruminated on the many colours that “green” comes in; mint, lime, ice, silver, bottle, khaki, olive and sage, to name just a few, and the way these hues  change with the season and the light. Fifty shades of green, indeed.

I also thought about comments some people make about maintenance and time consumption when they look about our acreage garden.  Yes, tending and tidying it is a big job, but hugely satisfying  physically, mentally and socially. The pleasure it brings far outweighs the time and effort involved. I don’t feel I should apologise  for this and yet I hear so much about low care being the mark of a ” good” garden.

With the task  of revamping a colleague’s garden, I have been perusing her preference for low-maintenance, evergreen,  architectural plants and note that these are the plants that say little about the growth and change that takes place in a garden. They look complete and fully grown on installation and  remain the same colour and density with the passing of seasons and years.

And the desire to have an “instant” effect goes against one of the fundamental lessons of nature – patience.  A loved and cherished garden takes time and effort. I look around new  estates and see the implanted landscape all in within a day and looking  static and “complete” . Where did this fast gardening come from?  Is it a carryover from fast food? We  know how satisfying that is !

The belief that the way to enjoy a garden is to do little in it, is a strange one. As in a kitchen, where you get pleasure from the trouble you take with cooking,  so the enjoyment of a garden is in the nurturing, which involves the “boring” and time-consuming jobs like weeding, edging, mulching, pruning, feeding and dead-heading. If gardening is your passion, what’s wrong with pouring time into it?

I hope I can persuade my colleague to put in some aspects of a “slow” garden that will grow and change and surprise her over the seasons and help her understand the rewards that come with watching and waiting.

RELATIVELY GLAD

ON a  visit to a talented gardening aunt recently, I discovered this stunning climbing bromeliad structure, (above), spreading up the trunk of  her suburban poinciana. Who says plants have to grow on the ground! Aunty Deb has always been a gardener, joined garden clubs, and could grow anything, anywhere.  She can grow, name and propagate  more species than anyone I know.

Of the three women in my mother’s family, she alone had the garden gene. The closest mum came to gardening was picking mint for the pea pot.

Lucky me got to take home a bootfull of my aunt’s garden cuttings. Hoping the rainbow of her geraniums I have potted will be a colorful family touchstone.

TURMERIC TALES

Fellow blogger Susan from Green Dreaming recently dug up her turmeric plants and harvested more than a kilo of  orange tubers. It reminded me I had put in one plant about three years ago and with every season, the leaves has browned and died back, and  I had merely cut it down, threw the leaves in the compost and watched it resprout. I was shamefully ignorant of where the edible part of the plant was. I have only used the ground turmeric for curries, stews etc..

So I dug under the plant and voila!. A clump of turmeric roots appeared.  I understand you grate them to cook with – as you do ginger. But, like Susan, would love some turmeric recipes.  As I have more than I can use,  ( left) I will pot some of the nodes and expect a swag of new plants to come up later in the year.

That’ll go straight to the ……………….  garden club stall.

May your joys be earthy.

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8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    super scott said,

    From Super Scott
    How awful to read about the damage to your lovely hands. Please take more care. I have noticed that my red hot poker has developed a droop lately. Are you able to help?

  2. 4

    Susan said,

    Thanks for reading my blog Julie, appreciate all the comments and references! Cheers, Susan

  3. 5

    felder said,

    TO ME, scarred hands are a sure sign of an active gardener… badges of honor, so to speak. thank you for referencing SLOW GARDENING, which is a recognition that we should SAVOR our garden experiences – all senses, all seasons, and share with others!
    -Felder Rushing (author of Slow Gardening, and host of slowgardening.net)

  4. 6

    Brooke said,

    Julie, to me there’s nothing more satisfying than a day of weeding, pruning and mulching. It feels like proper gardening!

  5. 7

    Ailsa Piper said,

    I have not heard anyone mention a poinciana tree for years. I loved them as a kid. Guess they can’t grow in Melbourne. Have you considered writing to Charlotte Wood for turmeric recipe? She blogs at How To Shuck an Oyster. Bet she’d have lots!


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