Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Garden (09/07/06)
TITLE: Gardens of my Life
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My gardens are scattered over several continents. My grandpa’s garden was in Germany. There, as a little girl, I loved to sit on my swing, gazing across the box hedge to ‘my’ round 'sun-lawn, with little daisies and smiling blue and yellow pansies. But I preferred the 'moon-lawn' that embraced half of the rose-bed, sometimes covered by golden petals of a laburnum tree. The prickly holly, silvery birch and the heavy- scented European jasmine still live in my memory. There my uncle Josef showed me the first earthworm, "Do not hurt him, he helps us keeping the soil healthy," he said returning the pink-grey creature to the ground where it wriggled back into the earth.
However, my secret place was at the back of the garden where two old pear trees guarded the rockery. The diverse patches of silver, gold, dark green and purple among the grey stones intrigued me to further investigation: a brown beetle climbing up a stalk, a green bug hiding under a leaf, sometimes even a tiny lizard soaking up the sun. The names of the plants awakened budding stories in me: 'Wall Pepper', 'Snow in Summer', ‘Lamb’s Tongues’. No wonder that late in springtime, when the pear trees gently dropped their luminous petals I danced in the rain of blossoms, thinking myself a fairy child.
In autumn, gazing up at the one golden, overripe pear high on a branch, "I wish I could have that pear," I mused, when all of a sudden it dropped, SPLASH right onto one of the big, grey rocks.
WWII came and my Mum and I were moved to a farm in Westphalia. No garden there for me but Anna, the farmer's wife gave me some cuttings from red Geraniums. Fascinated I watched the little roots in a glass of water until ready to be transplanted into a pot. The soil for these came from a decayed tree trunk in a small copse, where blackberries grew under beech and pines. This was ‘my own garden', where nobody ever visited. An almost hidden brook provided thick-leaved wild watercress and Forget-me-nots. In the undergrowth Snowdrops were the first to push their bells through the melting snow, followed by deep-blue Violets. Soon there grew wild strawberries to eat while sitting against a tree trunk, observing the ants.
How still it was there, only a lonesome cuckoo sometimes intruded my thoughts. In a tree-hollow I had put a little cross made from two sticks, for I had just read the "Life of Bernadette of Lourdes", and imagined myself in her role.
Another time, walking along the brook, a sudden furious rustle startled me. I jumped, my heart racing. A snake? Then I saw the little hedgehog scuttling away, his long grey quills still poised like spears.. I wondered which one of us was more afraid.
Later, as young wife and mother, we moved to Australia. A big, suburban garden waited to be brought to life. While my husband mowed the lawn, I created a vegetable garden, soon to harvest fresh strawberries, green beans, sun-ripened tomatoes and other delights. The large flower bed added colour in garden and house. I planted a Wattle tree. Its golden flowers and delicate scent reminded me of the great German poet Goethe who wrote that this tree only grows in warmer climates. And of course, there was a swing.
Later, adventures brought me to an island in the South Pacific. To a timber cottage with green lawns and tall coconut palms. At night the rustling of feathered palm leaves sounded like rain and often I woke up surprised by a deep blue sky instead of rain clouds. The tall hedge of yellow hibiscus sheltered the garden from salt spray of reef and I delighted in the red spikes of ginger flowers and salmon-pink double hibiscus. Purple, and red Bougainvilleas adorned the pergola while red and yellow Gloriosas appeared without invitation. But the pride of this garden was the dark green 'Tiare Maori', a Tahitian Gardenia with small, starlike white flowers used for scented leis. Their perfume evokes romantic memories in all who ever set foot on the island.
In the evening on the veranda, visited by a luminous full moon, listening to the rustling palms, absorbing the sweet scent of orange blossoms, my soul became still in the midst of turbulent life.
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