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Posts from the ‘Spirit of gardens’ Category

The Manicured and the Free

Two walks downtown, two contrasting gardens – each one remarkable in its own way. I have no preference.  Every garden has its points of interest, “wow” factor(s) and features that provoke an “I don’t think I’d put that there!” reaction. Always food for thought – and ideas to take home.

The gardens of Manyal Palace (above left) on Rawdah Island form a park of rambling greenery. It’s a haven of peace among the manic traffic and pollution of a super-crowded corner of the city. By contrast, El-Andalus Garden (above right) near the Tahrir Bridge is neatly laid out with terracing, severely clipped trees, and architectural elements drawn from southern Spain. Read more

Wildly romantic

Last weekend was a treat for the gardener – an escape from late summer pruning and clearing up, preparing raised beds and chucking compost about – with a diversion into a wildly romantic garden in the northern city of Alexandria…  Read more

“Fragrance blooms on pear wood bones”

Sun and moon divide the sky,

Fragrance blooms on pear wood bones:

Earth wakens with a sigh.

Wanderer revels on the path alone.

Tomorrow is World Festival of Poetry Day*, and for the occasion I’ve chosen to look at one of our most beautiful fruit trees: the pear. She is beautiful because she is currently in full flower, and because her tall stately shape delights with a surprisingly slender and discreet presence in our tiny orchard.

The pear does not stand up and whack me in the face like the untidy guava, with branches bending all over the place, nor does she shred my hands and arms when I approach her like the lemon/limes. There’s no need to feel wary when you approach a pear tree!

Meanwhile, the plum tree nearby is also blooming:

This is the lighter plum: the other, dark red plum, which is normally the first fruit tree to bloom in our garden, almost completely failed to flower this spring. Frustratingly I can’t identify any of the varieties as every single tree came without labels. As you may recall, with one we famously didn’t even know what kind of tree we had until it produced fruit – kumquats.

As I do my rounds checking how the trees are every day, I get the impression that our bees are spoilt for choice. They simply don’t know quite where to start! The orange tree is always a good option:

Orange blossom and bee

It would be nice to think that we may have orange blossom honey later on, but the reality is that it will be well mixed with borage, rosemary, rocket, broad bean, dill and possibly nasturtium flavours too. Do the bees have a favourite among all these? My observation is that rosemary is perhaps the main attraction but rocket runs it a close second. The borage is popular, but tends to be a quick stop as the flowers are small and well spaced: sort of take-away food “on the run”!

In sum, I think the garden is the finest way to celebrate poetry: It is a living poem in itself, ever-changing, never still for a moment, yet fascinatingly in harmony. Each morning there are new blossoms, soft tender shoots, seedlings bursting upwards through the soil. The effect on the soul is magical.

In their wonderful book “The Secret Life of Plants“, Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird explored how much we really have in common with them: “Plants are living, breathing communicating creatures, endowed with personality and the attributes of soul …..bridesmaids at a marriage of physics and metaphysics”. Tomorrow morning’s garden round will be done with especial regard for my beautiful companions, the balm of my soul.

* Poem from “365 Tao, Daily Meditations” by Deng Ming-Dao

* World Festival of Poetry, as noted in my Italian Kitchen Calendar for 2017, which is a mine of information about gardening, fruit cultivation, cultural matters and poetry.

*”The Secret Life of Plants” by Tompkins and Bird, published by Harper