Arbor Week

In South Africa we have a whole week dedicated to Arbor-ness. There is great stuff going on all over South Africa one hopes, although a Google search produces more events from previous years and to be honest I haven’t seen anything but then I don’t get out much.

I am celebrating Arbor week by planting some indigenous trees in my Bird Garden. I went out to Grow Wild Indigenous Nursery this afternoon to buy them. It’s a brilliant nursery, although not much to look at. Their website is a fantastic resource for finding a plant that matches your requirements, they responded within a few HOURS to my query AND they have 20% off trees for the whole of September in honour of Arbor week.

The trees of the year for 2014 are White Ironwood (Vepris lanceolata) , which conincidentally I had been eyeing in my book, and the Lavender Tree (Heteropyxis natelensis). I bought a small one of each and a Wild Pear which turns out to be the Pink Wild Pear (Dombeya burgessiae) instead of the Dombeya rotundifolia. Both have beautiful blossoms so I’m sure I will be just as happy with it, perhaps happier, but it just goes to show the importance of Latin names; or tree numbers.

I hope where ever you are in the world you are planting a tree for Arbor week, if you don’t have a place for one yourself there are great schemes for community planting.

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Pula!!! (it means rain)

Today we’ve had the first rains of the season!!! apart from last Saturday which doesn’t count because I was on a boat and it made everything cold and miserable and it didn’t even rain much in Sandton.

My sisters and I, growing up in Botswana where water is precious and rain is a blessing, would always go outside and dance in the first rains. This evening I ran around filling containers with the water coming down the drain pipes which is a kind of dance.

Happiness is… Birthday books

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A few weeks ago I turned a little older and quite fantastically I got book vouchers. For some reason I usually only get them at Christmas. For those of us who love wandering through shelves of books, running our fingers along spines and opening up books to smell that new book smell (different but just as nice as old book smell), book vouchers are even better than books because a trip to the bookshop is included in the present. Book vouchers are also a liberation because you can’t spend them on other things. So even if you have a towering pile next to your bed you have to buy more books.

There are many ways to buy books, you can set out to buy a particular book, go into a bookshop with a set of criteria and find one that fits it, or just pop into a shop and see if something buys you. Sometimes the latter happens even if you have intentions of the first. Today I had all three. Will Grayson, Will Grayson, was planned, I’ve been waiting for a moment to buy it, then I wanted a book on orchids, so I don’t kill my fantastic unplanned plant buy, finally, browsing through the gardening section, I came across this. Completely serendipitous,ipp Making the most of Indigenous Trees is unsurprisingly all about indigenous trees (of Southern Africa). It’s packed full of information about habitats, uses, especially with regards to wildlife, and cultivation. It has multiple photographs of each plant, it’s bark, flowers and seeds. It’s one of the best plant books I’ve ever come across and the fact that it’s on a subject not easily available elsewhere is a bonus.

The only way it might be improved is by adding a section at the back suggesting trees for specific garden uses for those too lazy to read every single entry. That’s not me though as I’ve already started book marking trees for use in the Bird Garden.

Lessons from the Garden (that might save the world)

ippYesterday I had a clumsy day. I forgot things, walked into a wheelbarrow (massive bruising) and knocked over a pot. I was reminded of how much a garden can teach you, other than to watch where you’re going. The pot had artichoke seeds in that I was beginning to lose hope for. I planted them at the beginning of May. I’ve been dutifully carrying them out into the sun in the morning and bringing them in at night and although the sweet peas I planted at the same time are about 5 cm high the artichokes haven’t even peaked up. I was beginning to think they’d probably expired or it was too cold, so when I saw the pot on it’s side, a bit of soil out and a beautiful little germinating plant lying there, it took me a second before I quickly put it back and doused it in water. A couple of days later I might have stopped bothering to look after it.

If you want a child to learn patience, teach them to garden. There is only so much you can do to hurry nature up and it’s usually not worth it, you end up with weak, sickly plants or over-crowded beds, so we have to wait, patiently. Some things come quickly, others take more time. It is frustrating when there is nothing you can do and your daily nurturing elicits no response, just sullen soil staring back at you, but waiting is a skill and plants are good teachers.

Hand in hand with patience is being able to see the future. Obviously I don’t mean in a clairvoyant way but in being able to imagine and plan and work towards it.

If you want a child to learn to invest, teach them to garden. I am a product of a instant gratification culture, if I can’t get/do something now I’ve probably forgotten it by the time I can, so this has been a hard lesson which I’m still learning. There are things I know I didn’t do because it seemed like the rewards were too far away (like plant asparagus) but time slips by so fast and it will slip by anyway.

So many people can’t see the future, they can’t see how their behaviour today affects tomorrow and they can’t believe that changing it could change the future. There is a saying that to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow so perhaps the world will be saved in the end not by heroes but by gardeners.