Tag Archives: gardening

6 September: Season of Creation VIII: Unloved?

the sun-flower, shining fair, Ray round with flames her disk of seed.

In Memoriam Stanza CI

Unwatch'd, the garden bough shall sway,
    The tender blossom flutter down,
    Unloved, that beech will gather brown,
  This maple burn itself away;

 Unloved, the sun-flower, shining fair, 
    Ray round with flames her disk of seed,
    And many a rose-carnation feed
  With summer spice the humming air;

 Unloved, by many a sandy bar,
    The brook shall babble down the plain, 
    At noon or when the lesser wain
  Is twisting round the polar star;

 Uncared for, gird the windy grove,
    And flood the haunts of hern and crake;
    Or into silver arrows break 
  The sailing moon in creek and cove;

 Till from the garden and the wild
    A fresh association blow,
    And year by year the landscape grow
  Familiar to the stranger's child; 

 As year by year the labourer tills
    His wonted glebe, or lops the glades;
    And year by year our memory fades
  From all the circle of the hills." 

(from In Memoriam by Alfred Lord Tennyson.)

After Tennyson lost a dear friend of his youth, Arthur Henry Hallam, he worked through his grief in his epic poem, ‘In Memoriam, AHH, which took some 17 years to complete. Here he reflects upon mortality, and how the time will come when no-one remembers us, and others will be at home in what was once home to us. Does this melancholy stanza express despair or acceptance of mortality? To have been composing this epic for 17 years suggests that Tennyson’s love for his friend did not fade away, though it will have changed.

The loss of a friend’s love affects how the poet sees the landscape as unloved, uncared for: but others can love it into freshness. Perhaps there are neglected plots near you, in town or country, that would benefit from a little love, a few poppies or sunflowers.

Poppy Bridge, Didsbury, Manchester. Poppy seeds were sown on the land to the right and came up in profusion the following year.

During the Great War, British POWs grew sunflowers for decoration, passing the seeds to their Russian counterparts who regarded them as a delicacy. *

Notes:

  • The beech trees’ leaves turn brown in Autumn, the maples’ become red and yellow
  • Lesser wain, or lesser bear, Ursa Minor, the constellation that includes Polaris, the Pole Star, which appears constant in the Northern sky.
  • Hern is the heron, crake is the corncrake, a bird that nests in cornfields.
  • A glebe is a parcel of land, usually allotted to the village priest.
    • * Where Poppies Blow, John Lewis-Stempel, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2016, p225.

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Filed under Autumn, Daily Reflections, PLaces, poetry

16 July: Consider the lilies of the field.

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Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. Matthew 6:28-29

The other day, as you can see, it was raining when I got to the Glebe, and it stayed that way all the time I was there. That’s not the reason for the post, though, but the plant the pictures show.

You’ll notice that it has no hint of green about it; this is because it is a parasite and cannot make its own chlorophyll. It derives this vital fluid from tapping into the roots of its host plant, which is ivy. It’s name is Orobanche hederae, or ivy broomrape.

When I was identifying this at the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland there were very few records mapped in Kent, the nearest being at Eastry village 14 miles away. That of course does not mean there are none nearer than that, they may even be relatively common since ivy, the host plant, grows almost everywhere. I don’t think anyone has introduced it here on purpose, especially to the awkward corner it occupies, so the guess has to be that a highly favoured seed – they are like specks of dust – blew here from wherever the parent plant was growing. The third picture shows that there are more shoots to come, so it’s well established with us. Let’s hope we can keep it thriving.

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si'

15 July: An energetic life.

A kneeler at Aberdaron church, Wales, where the poet RS Thomas was parish priest.

In another age, in another life, Thomas Traherne might have made a monk. In another age, in another life, another Thomas found his vocation as a Cistercian monk and writer. That’s how it was beginning to look in 1947 when Merton wrote the following journal entry. The message of the kneeler above contrasts with Traherne’s message in the last two days, ‘The soul is made for action, and cannot rest till it be employed’; at least superficially. But Traherne was also counselling the practice of meditation which begins with stillness. How that is achieved depends on the individual to a great extent; the fact that I came to stillness when cutting the grass was not appreciated by all my superiors… Over to Merton, who had chosen, been called to, a life of silence but not necessarily one of stillness.

The Cistercian life is energetic. There are tides of vitality running through the whole community that generate energy even in people who are lazy… We go out to work like a college football team taking the field.

Trappists believe that everything that costs them is God’s will. Anything that makes you suffer is God’s will. If it makes you sweat, it is God’s will. But we have serious doubts about the things which demand no expense of physical energy. Are they really the will of God? Hardly! …

If we want something, we can easily persuade ourselves that what we want is God’s will just as long as it turns out to be difficult to obtain.

Reading the two Thomases together, I wonder that any of us ever find any stillness in modern life. I no longer have access to a big, noisy, green, ride-on mower. But I do have the garden to turn to: news from there tomorrow.

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27 June: A shared table.

I had been sitting at the garden table, taking tea with Mrs Turnstone and Grandson No 2, but they had to go to find his parents. I sipped on.

I feel I have short-changed you, dear readers, because the central character in this story does not appear in the feature photograph, but she would have been even more camera shy than Mrs T is, and I was enjoying her company too much to send her packing by pulling out my phone.

She is one of the hen sparrows that nest in the roof of next-door-but-one. The landlord could do with fixing the roof but will have to wait now until the breeding season is over. The sparrow flew down to the table and attacked one side of the sliver of cake; these was a waspy looking creature opposite who probably would have posed for a photo, but Mrs Sparrow is not that bold, so what you get to see is a sliver of cake, slightly ragged at the edges. I got a shared meal with Mrs Sparrow, an uninvited guest.

Not that she sees it that way. As far as she is concerned, we humans are part of God’s providence (Luke 12:6). Food was provided, and food was accepted. She tucked in herself before taking a beakful home. At some point later the cake fell to the floor and was scattered across the flagstones; but it grew too dark for photography, and by the time a tardy human drags himself downstairs tomorrow morning, the crumbs will be gone.

I expect this bird is one of those that help themselves to Mrs Turnstone’s sphagnum moss, leaving her hanging baskets denuded; I daresay, too, she knows about the flowers pecked to ribbons for their sweet petals and nectar. Some things just have to be forgiven.

Other translations have swallow for turtle; turtle being the turtle dove of course. Not as noisy as our local collared doves, I imagine.

How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of host! 
My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord. 
My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God. 
For the sparrow hath found herself a house, 
and the turtle a nest for herself where she may lay her young ones: 
Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, 
my king and my God. 

Psalm 83(84) 2-4

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17 April: What mask will he wear?

I was gathering the last few items for the Easter gardens when this pot caught my eye in the toolshed. Another symbol for the garden, Mary Magdalene’s pot of ointment for Jesus’s burial! I remembered this picture from York Minster, where her pot is shown in a golden yellow. She has put it down on the grass, and doesn’t seem to know where to put her hands. Maybe Jesus has just said, ‘Don’t touch me’, when that is what she really wants to do more than anything.

But look! He is reaching out to touch her. He has disguised himself as the gardener so as to let the revelation of his return come gently to her.

What neighbourly mask or disguise will he be wearing today to lead me gently to see him?

We revisit this scene tomorrow.

Mary meets the Lord: York Minster

and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

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8 April: The Easter Garden

Franciscan Church, Venice

The church had imposing monuments, emphasising the worldly wealth that was Venice’s, but what struck me was this carving of Christ on Easter Morning, watched over by a Guardian Angel, a serenely happy angel indeed. But Jesus maybe does need an eye kept on him, He looks as though he is not at all used to his risen body, see how he’s feeling the wound in his side; it’s bleeding as though he were alive.

The English Easter gardens, from a village in Northumberland, Canterbury Cathedral, and Saint Mildred’s Church nearby, are unpopulated so far as we can see, but just as with Doctor Johnson the other day, we can feel God’s presence.

When I helped at Children’s Masses, some of them enacted Mary, John and Peter going to the tomb, and finding no-one. We then unrolled a poster saying ‘Jesus is nowhere’, because they did not find him. The priest had to take a pair of scissors to it, so that it read, ‘Jesus is now here’. Our daily challenge for mission is to live as though that’s true. Which it is!

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DAILY ECO TIP XXXII: Darling plastic free buds

Daily Eco Tip 32

The compost heap is going to be doing well from all this substitute plastic that it will be feeding on!

Bamboo cotton buds feel just like their plastic counterpart but they do the environment a huge favour as they can biodegrade. Same goes with bamboo floss; just as effective but reduces your plastic footprint.

https://www.friendlyturtle.com/eco-friendly-cotton-buds/

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Eco tips XXVI, XXVII: grow your own!

Apologies that tip 26 went unpublished yesterday; I was unable to download it then, but it came quietly this evening. I was looking at herb seeds just yesterday, but ran out of time to sow them.

Daily Eco Tip 27

Grow your own little garden on your window sill with some herb seeds. They are easy to manage and when the time is right you can pluck them fresh and throw them into your meals. 

Daily Eco Tip 26

Hair products as well as face ones are now available in bars. Rubbing the bar produces the same result as their liquid counterpart and can sometimes even last longer.

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Going Viral, International Women’s Day and Eco tip XVII (All in one post!)

Saints Mildred and Ethelbert at Saint Mildred’s, Canterbury

Good morning to you all on a rather cold and frosty morning; and I hope this finds you all well, as we are here. Yesterday I headed over to Ramsgate for my vaccination –  what a well organised and slick operation it was- hats off to all those who organised it – arm feeling achy though which is to be expected! It was strange driving to Ramsgate as I realised it was the furthest I have been in the car for about six months!


Today, 8th March 2021 is International Women’s Day, and the Mother’s Union has asked that we pray for women around the world between today and Mothering Sunday (14th March), we remember today that around the world there are women who are marginalised and oppressed or abused for just being female. who don’t have the access to opportunities for education, a safe place to live, clean water,  or some days don’t have enough food to feed their children. We give thanks for organisations such as the Mothers Union who support and encourage women both nationally and internationally. 

Morning Prayer: https://youtu.be/ATUIE7sODHk
God Bless you all and have a good day
Jo
Rev Jo Richards, Rector of the Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury

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Another chance to feel smug and virtuous: both of us gardeners at St Mildred’s Glebe this morning were using metal flasks for our breaktime drinks, and no worries about water quality or quantity. Polish that halo before the cobwebs take over again!

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Filed under Christian Unity, corona virus, Justice and Peace, L'Arche, Laudato si', Lent, Spring

7 March, Lent: Working on it.

It’s an excellent tool rack, isn’t it?

While I was away from the L’Arche garden in Canterbury, a few other volunteers descended on the place and made preparations for when people could come back to work, socially distanced of course. I’ve been back for a few weeks now, largely working 1:1 with me and my shadow, but sometimes socially distanced with Mr N.

We found the tool rack when we got back; there’s another one behind it. Thank you Mr B. These will save us so much time, provided of course, that everyone uses them. The tools will be accessible and visible, no hunting and heaving, not knowing if we even have a particular tool.

So perhaps a little organisation in other areas of life this Lent? I’ll say no more as Mrs T will be muttering about ‘do as I say but not as I do.’

Happy Lent!

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Filed under corona virus, Daily Reflections, L'Arche, Lent, Spring