Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Inconstant Gardener

One of the joys our technological civilization has lost is the excitement with which seasonal flowers and fruits were welcomed; the first daffodil, strawberry or cherry are now things of the past, along with their precious moment of arrival. Even the tangerine – now a satsuma or clementine – appears de-pipped months before Christmas.
Derek Jarman, the late English film-maker, artist, set designer and diarist.
There's a long, rectangular patch of dirt in front of my open-air studio. The studio is on the side of a steep hill, and when there's a wind, dirt and dust are blown into it. Yesterday, I planted some shrubby, fast growing grevillea as a crude windbreak. They're a native plant and their flowers have a sweet nectar. Indigenous Australians shook it onto their hands to lick, or mixed it with water as a sweet drink. I used to do the same when I was a kid. Grevillea also attracts native birds. I prefer not to have people around while I'm working but it's comforting, at times, to have the birds visit. I also planted native ground cover, which should grow quickly over the bare, dry earth. I forget what it's called but it has small flowers. Orange butterflies have discovered them already, and landing lightly, feed on the tiny white stars.
I'll be painiting my last enamels in the studio as well as beginning some other, very large, mixed media works. I have never gardened before but when I needed to know about it to solve a problem related to art, I suddenly developed a keen interest. I expect it will be fleeting - the problem is solved now - but I like how plants and planting are inextricably bound to the rhythm of the seasons. As Jarman reminds us, it's too easy, nowadays, to live in the world as if nature didn't exist.

1 comment:

texasliv said...

I love to sit on the verandah and smell my garden. It goes way beyond the visual, though I am working hard to give it some structure, none of that awful modern style stuff though. As structured as a rambling cottage garden should be, no neat hedges here!
Nothing is as pleasing to the senses, as picking your own fresh vegies, beautiful fat english roses, delighting in the growth of new trees.
I am a hopeless romantic and want my garden to be a place for our children to explore, enjoy and inspire, as it does for me.
My garden is my "creative" outlet.