Taking advantage of the clear weather (or, as some doom-and-gloom merchants are already calling it, 'the drought'), I spent a couple of hours in the garden today addressing the horticultural mayhem and manufacturing a bit of Vitamin D. It may be the latter that's making me feel so cheerful but I think it's more just gardening in general. I don't know about being 'nearer God's heart in a garden /than anywhere else on earth' -- but I certainly always feel nearer to my own.
Or it could have been the highly satisfactory bloodletting of the Texas Pruning Saw Massacre. I've been a bit conservative with the pruning of the climbing roses over the last few years and the result is a bunch of knots and nodes too high up, sprouting lots of pathetic little stems going in no particular direction. Not any more -- I just sawed them all off.
My late lamented Ma taught me how to prune, and now I just rip into plants with manic confidence that it will do them whole bunches of good. Certainly the fuchsia -- the one a few feet from the place where, five years after her death, I found the precious gold earring she lost there the day I bought the house -- is responding brilliantly to being cut back to less than half its former size. Don't believe the people who tell you never to cut into old wood.
When I'm pruning I commune with my mother, who got first go at the heavily under-pruned garden the first winter I lived here and indeed the only winter I had with her after I moved back to Adelaide: I swear I can feel her guiding hand on my wrist and hear her voice saying 'No, not there -- here.' She had a lighter touch than mine (she had a lighter touch than anyone's: a baker of perfect sponge cakes in a wood stove in her early life and she just kept improving from there) and I think a few of things I did with the secateurs today would have made her put her head in her hands and moan.
Wherever I went today in the garden I just kept thinking 'This place is a poem' (though in a different mood I could just as easily have been thinking 'This place is a shambles'), and so, inspired by Elsewhere's reading challenge, I have set myself a Writing Challenge. I am going to write a sonnet -- fourteen lines of iambic pentameter, at least, but it'll have to be blank verse because rhyming is in this case beyond me -- consisting entirely of the names of things in the garden.
Eureka lemon tree, Tahitian lime.
Three bottle-brushes and a Banksia rose,
low-flying blackbirds, magpies, a few gulls.
Camellias, bougainvillea and thyme,
some jasmine, snowdrops, rosemary and sage.
A lot of lavender, an apple tree,
some pigeons, sparrows, starlings, flowering gums,
a morning-glory vine and some sweet peas.
Anemones, ranunculi and ferns,
a wagtail, honey-eaters making nests,
a crow, a spider plant, a dragon tree.
A blood-red kangaroo-paw in the sun,
some little purple pansies in the shade.
About five thousand rainbow lorikeets.