Tag Archives: flowers

6 August: Evening thoughts of a gardener





It is evening, and the time for the flowers to close their petals.
Give me leave to sit by your side, and bid my lips to do the work
that can be done in silence and in the dim light of stars.
(from “The Gardener” by Rabindranath Tagore)

I hope all have time to sit in silence under the stars this holiday time, before being driven indoors by the midges and mosquitoes!

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5 August: Passion flowers

Another glimpse of Nineteenth Century Britain: Three passion flower graves seen on a recent walk: the first with the passion flower vine climbing the Cross, mingling with the Crown of Thorns to frame the Monogram, IHS, meaning Jesus, is an explicit Act of Faith; we found it near the entrance to Canterbury Cemetery. The second is nearby: from the end of the Century, the carving more rigid than on other stones we have seen. The passion flower is joined by a morning glory to our left, a rose to the right, and a lily above. The final stone is one we missed earlier in Harbledown churchyard. This is from 1940, a good half century later than anything we’ve spotted so far.

We reflected on the meaning of passion flowers here. It’s an interesting read. I close with the last paragraph of that post.

When you see a passionflower let it remind you that Jesus is real, his death was real, as indeed will ours be – but so, too, will our rising. And when you see a passionflower on a gravestone, send us a picture to put in the blog!

passionflower.real.jpg

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21 July, Insects: Laudato Si!

It was only at the end of Britain’s National Insect Week that I ever became aware it existed, but I am pretty sure the bees, bugs and beetles won’t mind being translated to July. In my occasional blog, ‘Will Turnstone’ I was able to mark the week on 27 June, its last day:

Here’s a bee, to remind us of how important they are. Thanks to the bees, this pyracantha, or firethorn, will be covered in flaming yellow, orange or red berries come the autumn. Our blackbirds love them. There’s always something to look forward to in the garden. Laudato si!

And if you’ve no garden of your own (and even if you do have a garden of your own) enjoy other people’s as you pass them by. And be thankful for their artistry and effort.

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Filed under Laudato si', PLaces, Summer

15 July: Little things.

JOHNSON. ‘There is nothing, Sir, too little for so little a creature as man. It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible.’

from “Life of Johnson, Volume 1 1709-1765” by James Boswell.

Samuel Johnson lived before the Voyage of the Beagle changed science for ever, but the generation of biologists before Darwin – like the Hampshire curate Gilbert White – were systematically looking at little things with the humility Johnson is advocating. Selborne parish was White’s study, the chalk hills, the plants and animals that inhabited them.

Our experience, walking on Kentish chalk during lockdown, is that once our eyes are open – to a damsel fly or to orchids for example – we see many more of them. This is a fly orchid, well named. But what else should my eyes be open to, walking city pavements?

Let’s pray for all those working at a really little, microscopic level, to bring us treatments and vaccines for diseases such as malaria and the new covid-19. Nothing is too little!

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10 July: Foraging Season in Kent.

I think we can declare the foraging season open! There have been a few wild cherries that the birds have not eaten, not enough to make a mall jar of jam, but the first blackberry was picked today, 6th July, about 9 days earlier than expected. Like the cherries, it was a little tart, but early, like the first apricots – a revelation to 9 month old David!

Last week I was harvesting lime – linden – flowers by the river, when a man, who looked Mediterranean, saw me. He grabbed a handful of the flowering branch-tips and plunged his face into them, inhaling the scent deep into his lungs. What memories were quickening for him?

This evening I went to look at a tree I had marked as likely to be in full bloom today. So had someone else. Being taller than most people, there were still a few flowers within my reach. I went home along a path I rarely take, and soon reached another lime tree in flower, scenting the wind. Plenty for me and those who might come after me.

Our other discovery was two walnut trees in public thoroughfares, ripe for foraging the soft-shelled nuts for pickling. As our daughter said, the longest day is past, Christmas is coming!

Let us pray for good harvests throughout the world, an end to the locusts in East Africa, and freedom for those fighting famine to do their work in peace.

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Filed under Advent and Christmas, Daily Reflections, Laudato si', PLaces, Summer

Going viral XXXIV: Passion flowers on our doorstep.

Walking around during lockdown, we came to Saint Stephen's church. Many years ago we came here regularly for Roman Catholic Mass. Today the church, like all churches, is closed, but not the churchyard. We found one stone with a passionflower, bottom centre of the disc, amid roses, a morning glory (?) and others that must have meant something to the bereaved husband. There are oak leaves and acorns in the triangular panels below the disc.

This verse is my best reading of the damaged inscription. It speaks of hope.

A happy world, a glorious place
Where all who are forgiven
Shall find their loved and best beloved
And hearts like meeting streams that flow
For everyone in heaven.

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Easter, PLaces, poetry

Going viral XXXIII: flowers of the field margin.

The lock-down sends us out of town, to consider the flowers of the field. (Luke 12:27)

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8 May: VE Day, The Cherry Trees.

The cherry trees bend over and are shedding
On the old road where all that passed are dead,
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed.

Edward Thomas

This is a war poem. All Edward Thomas’s poems were written with the Great War in the background, here we have loaded words, shedding, dead, followed by the hammer blow, ‘There is none to wed.’ The men were gone to war, as he was going, never to return.

The cherry trees in Thomas’s day would have been like these, with sheep, swine or geese grazing under them. The fruit would have been picked using a wooden ladder, tapering at the top to get between branches, but you could walk between and beneath the trees. The orchard is a fortnight or so before its flowering time, but the ornamental cherry at Saint Mildred’s, Canterbury, was shedding petals this week, strewing the grass.

No weddings this May, due to the corona virus. Edward Thomas could have been writing for us but his wife Helen was an appreciative reader, saying proudly that he found beauty where other people could not see it.

On this VE Day let’s pray for eyes to see the flowers of the field in all their divine glory. Let’s be thankful for all that has been done, these past 75 years, to bring peace to Europe, reconciling former enemies, and over the last 30 years, remedying some of the harm done by the Iron Curtain. Let us pray that peace and understanding will continue growing despite the setbacks of recent times.

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May 1. Hopkins: All this Juice and all this Joy

campion.cowparsley.pilgr.2019.sm.jpg
Nothing is so beautiful as spring—
   When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
   Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
   The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
   The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
   A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. Have, get, before it cloy,
   Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
   Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.”
 “Spring” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
‘Weeds in wheels’: Wheels in Hopkins’ time would have been wooden, with spokes radiating from the central hub, not unlike the petals of flowers such as the red campion above. The white cow parsley’s florets stand at the end of spoke-like stems; perhaps something like these flowers was in his inward eye as he wrote. Pear trees then would have been tall, not the dwarf orchard plantations generally seen today; brushing the blue would have seemed a more natural metaphor. 
Listen to the thrush at this link.
Hopkins straightforwardly links earthly nature with its creator and with human, childish innocence; children of God chosen by Christ, and so ‘worthy the winning.’ A bold assertion for a Victorian! 

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', poetry, Spring

Going viral XXVII: walking in the rain

It was the first rainy day for weeks; in two hours of walking on paths that had been busy by viral standards last time we walked them, I scarcely met a score of fellow walkers. It was a few degrees cooler than the preceding days, and wet. As I reached Blean church, big heavy drops drove me under the yews; I began looking for passion flower carvings without success but enjoyed seeing the lichen again and these bluebells of different colours.

Many times have I cycled past here, usually going to or from work, but never noticed these, partly because the church is at the top of a hill and all my attention would have been on completing the climb. Since it was the virus that drove me out here on foot, this is a going viral post, Stay safe, let your heart be unconfined!

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Filed under corona virus, Interruptions, PLaces, Spring