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18 May 2009

The feeling of the garden

A wonderful balance is reached in Autumn and Spring when the weather is neither hot nor cold, the harsh bright light of summer takes on a more gentle glow and being outside is not only a joy, it's essential. Autumn is my favourite season. It is that one time of year when my optimism is at its peak, the grass is greener, flowers bloom, vegetables are set to grow and I see the colder months ahead and smile at the thought of it.

I often take photographs in our garden to show what kind a place we have here. Much of the outside work is done by Hanno and it's a credit to him that it's productive and breathtakingly beautiful. But the beauty recorded in those photos is nothing like the feeling of the place. Seeing it in a photo and experiencing it first hand cannot be compared. A photo will not show the myriad of birds that fly in and out, it will not allow you to experience the gentle breeze or to soak up the feeling of being right here, right now. There is a family of kookaburras living here and they dart in and out constantly. I hear, but never see, whip birds calling from the rainforest. The scent of honeysuckle and roses entice me to walk further into the garden, there are spots of bright coloured New Guinea impatiens next to the sober magnolias, and next to the drive way, red hot pokers stand tall in the sun like guardians.

In the back garden, where food production is our main concern, worms, hidden away in their bathtub farm, devour all manner of kitchen scraps and paper, seedlings slowly grow for planting in the garden, water drips into catchment tanks, vegetables vines curl around trellises, carrots and turnips peak out from the soil, bees buzz, sedge frogs jump inside cabbage heads and fruit ripens. It is certainly a grand sight, but the feeling of it, well, that is something else.

Walking around our garden reminds me, with certainty, that I am part of the natural world. I am not above it, I cannot remove myself from it, I am part of it and it is part of me. There is so much out there that I don't understand - the wind blowing the trees in just one part of the garden, the never-ending cycles of life, lichen growing on rotting tree stumps, and what did come first, the chicken or the egg? But I'm not worried about my ignorance, I still enjoy what I am privileged to see, feel and do here.

Our garden is being readied for a family wedding next month. Hopefully grandbabies will be toddling around this garden one day, there will be kids playing with dogs in the backyard again, Christmas lunches will spill over into the backyard for a game of cricket, and new life will bring new meaning to this garden. I hope the cycles of life of my family will be connected with this land for many years to come so that a woman who I don't know now will remember back to this time when our family first settled here. It is a wonderful thought that my family will live here for many years to come, but this land and the feeling of the gardens, makes me think the best of everything.

I wish I had 330 parcels to send out to you all but there can be only two winners. Congratulations to Kendra @ A Sonoma Garden and LashyLashla. Please send me an email with your postal address. Thank you, and thanks to all of you for your wonderful comments.


  1. is that a passion flower? does it produce fruit? My hubby bought one for Mothers day and I was wondering if it will produce fruit here in Canada?

  2. Dearest Rhonda,
    Once again a beautiful post.
    Take care & God bless

  3. What a wonderful sense of harmony you convey in today´s(tonight for me) message. I am a couple of years older than you I think and how I value this time in life. Time to reflect over generations to come, time to take steps to ease the way for our loved ones and hopefully be a source of inspiration. The circle of life goes on - isn´t it great?
    Although you live in another state, reading todays blog made me nostalgic for my Sydney years 1933-76. Two of my children were born there and I only have wonderful memories of our house and garden - and the green "winter period". Here immigrants joke about the "green winter". The spring and summer season is wonderful but oh, so short. So there is a sense of urgency for home gardeners like me to sow and school on plants to maturity. But that´s a challenge too.
    I think of you often when I wander round amongst my plants and when I make soap, laundry powder and many other items you have shared with us.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Ramona K
    Uppsala, Sweden

  4. Ooooh I won, what a pleasant surprise. Thank you Rhonda. Email on the way, Lisa

  5. Hello ladies.

    Ways of Zion, yes, it is a passion flower. It is the flower of the purple passionfruit - it's sweetly tart and delicious. We also grow the yellow passionfruit and the flowers are the same as this. I'm not sure if your vine will produce fruit, I thought it was a hot weather plant, but if you could provide a measure of warmth, maybe you'll be lucky.

  6. Dear Rhonda, you write so beautifully that I feel like I am in your garden!

  7. Hi Lisa and Terry!

    Hello Ramona, I grew up in Sydney, at Strathfield. Where were you? I left Sydney in 1974 to travel around Australia. I never really went back after that, but Tricia still lives in the Blue Mountains. May I ask, why are you living in Sweden? One of my grandmas was Swedish.

  8. I completely understand what you mean about the feeling of a place. I experience that sort of interaction here too... yesterday I watched a koala in a gum tree from my kitchen window and literally living in the forest means I have been privileged to see a whipbird up close. A regent bowerbird flying through brushed past my ear. A lyrebird which used to visit the garden impersonated the phone ringing, had me confused for a while. Isn't nature wonderful!

  9. Lovely post Rhonda,

    Autumn is my favorite time of year also. As I look out from my windows, all I can see are the most beautiful trees and this time of year the colours are just magic.

    Blessings Gail

  10. When I think about the awful climatic mess we are all in, it is because we thought we were at the top of the natural world, and not merely a part of it, as you say.

  11. I hope your wishes for grandchildren come true, in the right time of course! You will be a wonderful grandma.

    I just want to say I love your blogroll. I have been enjoying some lovely blogs the last few days thanks to your latest list. Thank you!

  12. Lovely post Rhonda. We had wild wind late last week but are now also enjoying autumnal perfection here in the Illawarra.

  13. Hi Rhonda
    I have a question regarding your worm farm. We want a worm farm, but aren't willing to pay the $90 at our town's hardware store for it. I noticed you mentioned a bathtub - how it is set up? Is there a post somewhere on your extensive blog that I should read or is there more you could tell us? Do worms need access to fresh air or need to be under the soil all the time? I know nothing!

  14. Oh, I try to spend some reflective time in my garden every day. I wish I had a hammock and the leisure to do nothing but gaze up at the sky.

  15. Getting on hands in the soil does us all wonders.
    That what my hubby and I did. Oh, got into the gardens and did some planting.

    Your place looks wonderful and it will be a great place to host a wedding.
    Plenty of room for little ones to move about.

    Coffee is on.

  16. Hi Larissa, yes, they need air and they can drown. Here is my post for setting up a worm farm in a bathtub. Good luck.

  17. I love the pictures of your garden so much. It reminds me of the time we were newly married and lived in the country.

  18. I love the Autumn too. Its the culmination of the past season's work, the end of all that's green. It's the start of a "rest" from the garden and a time for me to start sketching and painting, but it last way too long for my liking! By Feb I am aching to get my hands back in the dirt and I am so tired of snow.

    You have a beautiful place!

    - Sheryl

  19. Hi Rhonda
    A lovely post today, we have being giving our garden a lot of thought recently but mostly in regard to making it secure for our new dog!! I know that this is not really related but as you keep dogs I wondered if you had any advice on this subject I did have a look in the older posts but couldn't see any.I was thinking frugal methods of feeding, toys etc!!

  20. Your garden always looks wonderful to me Rhonda..the different stages of growth..I am getting very impatient to get into my garden. This year it is taking long to warm up. I have my seeds and plants waiting to be planted.

  21. My husband and I are just starting out with our first home (we are getting 3 pigs today, and will be getting chicks next week!!), and have two small kids. We are beyond busy getting everything set up, and I often forget to enjoy what we have.
    Your post has reminded me to try harder to slow down (as much as I can), and enjoy our garden, our animals, our kids, and our lifestyle.
    It is nice to know that life will be a different pace some day, but I am going to enjoy it the way it is right now!!!

    -Melanie in Canada

  22. Oh my goodness! I never win blog contests, today must be my lucky day!

    I know what you mean about pictures of a garden not doing a place justice. I take post many pictures of our garden, but it never seems to convey the same feeling as walking through it.

  23. Thank-you for sharing your garden with us! I am dreaming of owning some beautiful land myself one day but in the meantime I live vicariously through your posts and pictures.

  24. Dear Rhonda,

    What a thoughtful and thought provoking post. I so enjoy "visiting" with you!

    I live in the home my grandparents built in 1948. We have an acre, in the midst of suburbia. I enjoy the house and the knowledge that my grandfather and his brothers built it, using stone from my great-grandfather's quarry, which came from the land my great-great grandfather farmed. So your comment about "I hope the cycles of life of my family will be connected with this land for many years to come so that a woman who I don't know now will remember back to this time when our family first settled here" struck a chord.

    I recall as a child the big garden and the fruit trees and the grape arbor that used to be in the back. Alhtough we've lived here 9 years, we haven't re-stablished any of those things...yet. We have tried gardening, but we have an amazing amount of wild animals here for a home in the middle of the suburbs! Every year, just as we are hopeful that we will have a nice little garden, we wake up one day to see that eveything was eaten in the night. This year we finally fenced an area, so hopefully something will have the chance to grow....if it ever warms up here!

    I also enjoy that you are in a different season from us. (Pennsylvania) Sort of like a preview of things to come for me.


  25. Rhonda:

    Once again, you have made me stop and think about the world we live in and how privileged we are to be a even a small part of it. Your gardens are beautiful! I would love to go to Australia and witness it's magnificent beauty. Autumn is also my favorite time of the year, just for different reasons. In the States, where I live, we are looking forward to snow in Autumn; the gardens are all harvested and waiting until Spring for anything green! It is Spring here, and everything is starting to come alive and turn into Summer. I just planted my garden, and will be looking forward to a summer full of freshness.

    I so look forward each day to your wonderful blog and advise - thanks for sharing.


  26. Hi Rhonda
    Sorry to be a pain, you are so busy, but you didn't include a link in your reply? No rush, I'll check back in a couple of days.
    Have a great day (love the pics of Alice - we have a similar temperamented dog - Billy, he's my shadow :) great feeling to be sooo loved.)

  27. Sorry Larissa. Here it is:

  28. Beautiful post, Rhonda! I love to "hear" you write!


  29. I understand the feelings you get in your garden...and you describe them beautifully. I love being in ours and find every ecxcuse to be there. It is a treasure without end. Jody

  30. Your garden is so beautiful! My man and I are moving soon, with a wonderfully BIG backyard- plenty of space for my garden at last! Thank you so much for posting all this helpful info...I love visiting your blog!


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