The Canny Gardener

how to be a smart gardener


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Life after death

Recently at Kew Gardens, there was an exhibition called ‘Life in death’ which featured an installation made of dried flowers, itself inspired by garlands found with mummies in Egypt. There was a solemnity and dignity about the work, while reminding us about the fragility and beauty of life.  I was immensely touched by this exhibition by Rebecca Louise Law, an installation artist based in London.

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It also stirred up my childhood memories of working with seeds and pressed leaves and flowers.  Fresh flowers can be fleeting joy but correctly preserved, flowers can give pleasure for a long time as the garlands from the Egyptian tombs show.   I try to bring back flowers which are meant to be thrown out after just a few hours in an event- such a waste not just of the flowers but also the artistry that made that bouquet.  Recently, I was attending an event with a lovely bouquet at my table made of white or pale flowers. It reminded me of both life and death.

I brought the bouquet back home and after a couple of days, the flowers started to dry up. Normally I would have thrown the entire bunch in the compost but these struck me as having a touch of fragile beauty, a whiff of life with a whiff of death about them.  I photographed them before it went on for composting. Here are the results-

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I hope these two encounters with dried flowers will rekindle that spark I used to have for them!

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Natural beauty

My friend Jonathan went out and found these lovely autumnal colours in the local park.

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He took these photos and I wanted to share these with everyone because of what someone decided to do with the fallen leaves.  Ephemerally beautiful, arranged in the manner of the art of Andy Goldsworthy, these are worthy natural artworks by an unknown creative.

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But this kind of beauty is also found in many smaller seasonal vegetables and plants that I have been photographing recently-

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Spring is not the only time to find beauty in nature! In case you are interested, BBC has done a short film about why leaves change colour in autumn, which you can find here.

 

 


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The gift of poppies

This week has been of immense sadness- from the pain of the deaths of so many strangers that have touched our lives. From the nearly 500 people killed in the Gaza and Israel conflict to the nearly 300 Malaysian airlines passengers shot above rebel held Ukraine. The anger, pain and fear of families have been palpable, even in cyberspace. IMG_1546

I have been struggling to make any sense of what is happening. I thought world wars were over a long time ago and that my children (and grandchildren) would only face climate change as a major threat to their existence, not wars. But now I see that I was so wrong. I see sadly that we cannot live with each other and we cannot live on our planet, fighting over small bits of land. These poppies come up in my garden every year. They give me hope. As a Buddhist, I can only hope like these poppies, the lives of the 700 and more people whose natural lives have been cut short, will arise again as messengers of peace and love. That finally sense will return. That our future is without weapons. That future will be love for each other. If you have been affected by the events of this week, do comment to let me know how you feel!