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Posts Tagged ‘Ganges’

My new favourite gardener has a wild lily garden in the back blocks of Hobart. His name is Rod and he breeds and sells lilliums and narcissus. Rod calls himself a ‘naturist’ and that seems accurate. He’s a bit of a hermit but actually loves a good natter. I had to write to him snail mail to make contact, which was in fact so refreshing. He wrote back promptly, sending me multiple copies of his bi-annual newsletter, ‘The Trumpeter’ and naming a few dates in January that I could visit him.

So when I got back from India I phoned his sister (3 doors down from Rod) and we set a date. When I drove through the gate of ‘Glenbrook’ I forgot I was in Hobart. It was as if I had suddenly been teleported into a deep, forgotten valley in a remote part of Tasmania. Rod’s little cottage nestles against the bush of this flank of the Wellington range – which is owned by Rod’s family, who keep it so that the wildlife will have a home. The cottage is barely visible – “I’m trying to get the plants to take over,” says Rod.

His sister is there, and I’m served more than I can eat by way of little sandwiches, homemade cakes and cups of tea. Everything is delightful and kind and friendly and in spite of Rod’s reputation as one who shuns society, I could not have felt more welcome. They just want to hear about India, while I am itching to do my interview. But having said that, chatting about India is something I can do without much encouragement. A chook walked across the carpet as I helped myself to more cake while describing my dip in the Ganges at Varanasi, much to their impressed astonishment.

Now that I have whetted your appetite, I’m going to show you a picture and sign off, because I have to go and pick someone up to take them to the Wielangta forest, which any locals reading this will know is a worthy excuse.

To be continued…

Rod tenderly shows me his lilies.

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‘Paths are for people’ has become part of my gardening philosophy. You see, they are easily taken over by border plants, by scurrying ants, by moving earth and by… slime. Or variations on slime, such as moss, which looks like fairyland so we are tempted to keep it, but we don’t live in fairyland, so ultimately, when it starts to take over and mud happens and mess happens, it has to go, because paths are for people.

Welcome, be led up the garden path...

It’s mid-summer where I live in Tasmania. Throughout winter and spring it rained and rained and rained all over again. It was wetter than tears, and the ground filled up with this wet, bringing  joy to roots tired of the decade-long drought. Now the sun is out and the days are long and bright. Ground full of water + days long and bright with sunshine = excited plants growing madly in all directions!  This of course = paths overgrown with arching branches, abundant leaves and opportunistic grasses. They all reach longingly into the wonderful open space that paths represent to them. Tender-hearted gardeners are prone to being romantic about the freedom of this rambling plant-stuff, but this will not do, this will not do! ‘Paths are for people,’ you must keep repeating, as you take the shears and slice through, as you take your little machete and hack through, as you take up your nicely sharpened and beloved secateurs and snip through. Whatever your tool, whatever your armoury, follow up with rake and broom, and see the welcome results! Let the path lead you, as this is the purpose of all pathways.

Paths are for people

Paths are the definition and the navigation. Let them be a lovely shape all of their own, the plants can help create this shape by your judicious and systematic pruning and restraining. Keep the identity of the paths clear and the garden will communicate with you.

I was recently in Sydney. Now that is a city with a lush climate. I was helping care for an ill relative. Part of this ended up involving path clearing, as the sick person could no longer cut and sweep, and others who were able were too busy caring. All in all I ended up clearing 3.5 paths belonging to all manner of relatives. Two were veritable bush tracks, one had the all-important job of guiding dhobi wallahs to the clothesline – heavily laden with the basket of wet washing, one needs a clear path, a clear entrance and the line itself, needless to say, needs the sun that comes with clearing. The 0.5 was not so much a path, because that courtyard garden is too small to have a path, but it was an edge, a boundary, and in need of definition.

Then I went to India, where I swept the paths of sacred grounds, and where I stood with my feet in the great flowing pathway of the Holy Mother Ganga. Finally I came home, to find that some kind friends had done clearing for me, just as I had cleared for others. And this morning, as I swept the path at my own front door, I heard a rustling in the leaves which made me pause. It is a sound I have come to know. I had disturbed a fat blue-tongue lizard, who ventured out and strode away along the path to hide again. Paths are for people, but fat lizards are also welcome.

Gateway to the holy Ganga, India

Pathway to the holy Ganga, India

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