Many, many thanks for the kind wishes that readers sent me after my last blog, three weeks ago. I was able to read them from my hospital bed and they were much appreciated. Having survived the hip replacement operation and undergone rehabilitation at another facility, I am now - most gratefully - back home and walking around pretty well. Gardening is forbidden for at least another three weeks, because of stern doctors' warnings against bending, reaching and kneeling, but it was a joy to be reunited with my garden, even though it needs quite a lot of attention in the form of weeding and pruning, some of which will be tackled (by others) this coming week.
Having never been in a hospital setting for more than a few days before, it surprised me how much I missed contact with the natural world over the 17 days I spent there. From my hospital bed, I could only see the sky. However, my window ledge was transformed into a delightful flowery bower by some beautiful bouquets sent by family and friends, and just to be able to gaze on these truly gorgeous blooms - all amazingly colour-coordinated in soft purples, pinks and creams - brought a huge sense of pleasure in the ghastly miasma of the immediate post-operative days. The soft colours, the scent and the natural textures of the flowers brought a welcome relief from the stainless steel world of the hospital. As well as exotic lilums and lisianthus, the bunches included old-fashioned flowers that used to grow in the garden of my childhood: snapdragons, freesias, stocks and daisies, which brought tears to my eyes at times.
This hospital actually has a 'healing garden' on its ground floor, which I never actually got to visit myself but which sounds a lovely idea for ambulant patients to be able to retreat to for some contact with nature. It has always seemed to me as if there is some intrinsic need for us to have this on a regular basis - whether this just applies to gardeners, I don't know.
In the rehabilitation centre, I received from friends a stunning potted phalaenopsis orchid, and these exquisite flowers were a joy to behold: perhaps it is the sheer beauty of nature that is its overwhelming appeal. Other friends brought me posies of camellias from their gardens, reminding me again that I wished I had planted more of these wonderful shrubs in the early days of my garden. I decided to strike some of the stems as cuttings when I got home, as the colours of these specimens were just what I craved to add to my garden.
I spent many hours in the rehab centre walking the corridors (to improve my mobility) and along the way, I peered out of windows to try to see some greenery. The centre is set on what was once a magnificent heritage property and some of the original trees remain on the boundaries. One morning, another patient and I even escaped - she on a Zimmer frame and I on my crutches - out the front gate and wandered along the street, and I found my eyes greedily devouring the first signs of early spring: ornamental quince blossoms, wattle, African daisies (Osteospermum cultivars) and Marguerite daisies. I pined desperately for my own garden and my mind seethed with ideas for changes to make. I can hardly wait till I am fit to start working it in again!!
18 Oct 20
Although my garden is semi-tropical in nature now, I still have some vestiges from my cottage garden days!
11 Oct 20
Consider training a shrub into a small tree.
04 Oct 20
October is iris time in Sydney gardens: the best are the tall bearded irises and Louisiana irises.
One crowded hour
27 Sep 20
Much can be achieved in regular short stints in the garden.
20 Sep 20
We may not be able to grow massed displays of tulips in our climate, but try some of these South African corms instead.