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My parents’ garden

The view from the patio, 2014

The view from the patio, 2014

Nostalgia: a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends. So many things spark this emotion in us. For me, one of the things that stirs this ‘wistful desire’ is my parents’ garden — or, as we call it, ‘the back yard’.

More than a garden, more than a collection of plants, this is part of my history. My maternal grandparents bought this house in Stratford, Ontario in the 1970s; my parents bought it from them in the late 1990s. I have never lived there, but for almost 40 years the house and the garden have been part of my life, the scene of large gatherings with family and friends, or smaller gatherings of my parents and me. Seeing these photos reminds me of those times and those people, some of whom are now dead but who still live in memory.

Of course, food and wine play a part in any gathering, regardless of size!

Speaking of food, the garden is more than flowers.

But let’s not forget the flowers …

And what’s a garden without birds?

Travelling to Canada from England or Australia plays havoc with my body clock, so I often wake up much earlier than usual. As you can see below, the garden is very peaceful soon after sunrise.

Early morning, 2007

Early morning, 2007

All great gardens evolve, and this one is no different. The saga of the apple tree illustrates this well.

And, sadly, when autumn comes the garden must be emptied and readied for winter.

October’s Garden Challenge theme is Favourite Gardens. This is definitely one of my favourites. (Many thanks to my mother for a lot of these photos!)


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The Mothers’ Club Vegetable Garden

The Mothers' Club Vegetable Garden, Daliconi village Fiji

The Mothers’ Club Vegetable Garden, Daliconi village, Fiji

On my recent sailing holiday in Fiji, we visited the remote island of Vanua Baluva (see map below). We dropped anchor off the town of Daliconi, where we were warmly welcomed ashore and guided around the village. Our visit began with a welcome ceremony with the elders of the village’s five clans — interrupted by a woman, bolder than her friends, who begged us for seedlings and garden tools for the Mothers’ Club Vegetable Garden. Sadly, that’s not the sort of supplies generally carried these days on a tall ship full of tourists, and the most we could give was cash. But with nowhere to buy supplies, even cash was of little use to these dedicated women.

Daliconi is so small that Google Maps couldn’t find it! Here is the island, though.

The Mothers’ Club tends a vegetable garden for the school, and what is not used for children’s meals is sold to other villagers. Wandering around, I took one look and thought, “aha! Edible Garden theme!” and got snapping.

Two of the mothers at work in the garden.

Two of the mothers at work in the garden.

The village was ravaged by Cyclone Winston on 20 February this year, hit by winds of up to 300km/h. If the palm trees and the hillside (first photo) look stripped and bare to you, that’s why. The school was one of the buildings destroyed that day. One classroom has been rebuilt, but this UNICEF tent serves for other classes.

Note the UNICEF tent, at left.

Note the UNICEF tent, at left.

The vegetables were all neatly labelled, if not correctly spelled.

Chinese cabbages.

Chinese cabbages.

Long beans.

Long beans.


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Wildlife in the Garden: Butterflies

This is the same butterfly in the feature image, with the glorious blue (blurry!) wings.

This is the same butterfly seen in the feature image, with the glorious blue (blurry!) wings.

What more lovely wildife in a garden than butterflies?

Butterfly

Butterflies

Butterfly

Butterfly

Giving Monarch butterflies a helping hand

Habitat loss is threatening North America’s Monarch butterfly population. Many people have begun growing butterfly-friendly plants to provide food and shelter for these insects as they make their way on migration from Mexico in winter to the US and Canada in spring. My parents have milkweed plants in their garden in south Texas, where the butterflies will stop, eat, lay eggs and hatch. We have found chrysalises hanging under lawn chairs, tucked under wall siding and attached to the shed. I was lucky enough to capture one hatching. How beautiful is that transparent green chrysalis with the golden dots?


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Wildlife in the Garden: Squirrel in London

Squirrel in rose pot. He looks soooo guilty!

Squirrel in rose pot. He looks soooo guilty!

For March, Jude is looking for wildlife in the garden. These photos from when I lived in London (circa 2005 in this case) are pretty rubbish quality, but you can see the furry little devil in action. (This patio and the pot of mini yellow roses also appears in this post.) This squirrel and I had ongoing battles marked by offensive and counter-offensive. For example, I set up a feeder for the birds, which he promptly began to climb …

You have to admire his determination.

You have to admire his determination.

… until I added a homemade anti-squirrel device. Try as he might, he could not climb around that cone!

This is the pole after I added my nifty DIY squirrel defence.

This is the pole after I added my nifty DIY squirrel defence.


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B&W Garden 3: Darwin Botanic Gardens (2)

Mimosa flowers

A bit cheeky here, as I’ve left a splash of colour in this photo of Mimosa flowers.

In my second post of black-and-white garden images, I have a few flowers from Darwin Botanic Gardens.

A type of orchid, I think.

A type of orchid, I think.

Mystery spiky flower

Feel free to tell me what this is!

(By the way, the pig sculpture peering from the foliage in the badge below is also from the Darwin Botanic Gardens.)


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B&W Garden 2: Darwin Botanic Gardens (1)

Dead leaves

Dead leaves hanging from a branch.

I have two posts featuring the Darwin Botanic Gardens in black and white, for inclusion in Jude’s Garden Challenge. While visiting the gardens in September last year, I was struck by the stark beauty of the shapes of the many dead and dried plants, and the play of light and shadow. Next week’s post will highlight some of the gardens’ flowers.

Dried palm fronds like a wing

This sweep of dried fronds remind me of an angel’s wing.

Dried palm fronds

Dried palm fronds.

A scroll of dried bark

A scroll of dried bark.

(By the way, the pig sculpture peering from the foliage in the badge below is also from the Darwin Botanic Gardens.)


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Winter Garden 2 – Walpole Park

Exotic spiky palm-type plants in the snow.

The sunken garden, and exotic spiky palm-type plants in the snow.

I’ve gone with a large interpretation of “garden” for this winter garden post. These photos are of Walpole Park, which is in Ealing Broadway (London). I lived across the road from this 28-acre site for a year or so (not the same place in last week’s snowy patio photos).

Fountain and cherry tree

Fountain and cherry tree, a sprinkle of snow — and a bench! 😉

According to Wikipedia, “In 1987 Walpole Park was registered by English Heritage on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. Within its boundaries are the Pitzhanger Manor museum & art gallery and Perceval Lodge. These buildings and part of the boundary wall are also statutory protected structures of Grade I and Grade II respectively. There is also a late Victorian ornamental lake bordering the House’s rear lawn and further west a pond which has a pair of fountains, both of which attract waterfowl. The original house which stood here, and its grounds which make up the present park, was once the property of John Soane the architect, who bought it in 1800. After several more changes of ownership it was purchased by the Urban District Council of Ealing in 1900.”

Tulips and pansies in the snow.

Tulips and pansies in the snow.

Rosegarden in the snow.

Rose garden in the snow.

“Most of the park consists of open flat grassed areas bordered by tree lined avenues.” (Wikipedia) You can get an idea of those open areas and trees in these next two shots.

Tree blossom weighed down with snow.

Tree blossom weighed down with snow.

A line of flowering trees dusted with snow.

A line of flowering trees dusted with snow.

And I just like the whimsy of this cute little guy with his flower petal buttons, and branches for arms.

Snowman with petal buttons.

Snowman with petal buttons.

“The park was extensively renovated from August 2013 onwards and reopened fully in the summer of 2014.” (Wikipedia) My photos were taken in late winter/early spring 2008, so I’ll have to go back and see how this lovely park and its gardens have changed.


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