Wedding’s delight

2010-05-01 00:00

REGARDING the letter from Clive Howick (The Witness, April 24): Clive we can’t go on meeting this way. It will be more pleasant to enjoy a cup of tea and a chat together. May we make a date sometime?

The soul food that comes from spending time on a large spread of thick green lawn surrounded by immensly proud trees of a great age has to be experienced to be understood. No matter their country of origin, the strength and spread of the trees and their happiness to share their beauty and presence for the enjoyment of all is a moving experience. This was my pleasure recently at a wedding picnic reception in the tranquil grounds of Briar Ghyll, the Henderson farm in town in Pietermaritzburg. This venue would surely please the most demanding of film producers — what a presentation and it included an awesome old redbrick homestead roofed with mossy pan tiles and a grand chimney. The American poet Joyce Kilmer wrote: “I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.” At this venue these words came easily to mind. Perhaps one day our dear old Maritzburg may once again become the City of Gardens or the City of Flowers. Nature’s beauty brings such good cheer and peace of mind.

Gardeners would have been aware this last week of a real slowdown of growth. The lawn and all edges stayed neat and low, no mowing or trimming was needed. This dawdling growth of the regular chores gives more time for other practices. Digging over of the soil and feeding the soil with manure, compost and fertiliser, preferably with all three of them, will pay off at the next harvest, the spring garden. After spreading fertiliser, water well: any stray fertiliser on the leaves or stems will burn the plants. If the garden needs a dressing of lime, this is best done at least a week before the feeding. If done at the same time, the lime destroys the properties in the fertiliser. It is usually the grey and the grey-green foliaged plants that require the alkali from the lime. This practice of feeding, fertilising and liming is a bit tedious but, in time, it gives a good return.

Helping with wedding flowers recently, the value of good, clean, green foliage came to mind again. The shrubs of Camellia, of Murraya, of Box all give exceptional greenery, as do the leather-leaf fern and Aspidistra leaves.

Aspidistra plants were the favourite indoor pot plant of the Victorian period. A well-grown plant of large smooth green leaves was always to be found in the home in a Jardinere in the front parlour of the drawing room. These are such easy and useful plants to grow for the shade and semi-shaded areas of the garden. The clumps spread out from the centre and get larger and larger and make a handsome spread of leaves in these often difficult areas to clothe. They are waterwise and take care of themselves in every way. The leather-leaf fern grows in a similar way and in the same situation. There is a tall one growing up to a metre and a smaller, neater one, which is ideal in a container in the shade, the leaves of which are lovely in posies and small arrangements.


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