The Write Way
Friday 14 October 2011
You already know that we carbon-based bipeds are a weird mob (I've told you so often enough here), and nowhere is this more obvious than the way we regard our home-towns.
If you've been with me for any time, you'll recall that the Love of My Life and I spent our children's teen years living in a large country town up on the Great Dividing Range in Queensland. It's known far and wide as the Garden City, for a very good reason -- the gardens are lovely, and once a year the town celebrates with an aptly named Carnival of Flowers.
The weird-mobness of this comes in when I tell you that in the nearly 10 years we lived in this town, we only once got involved in the festivities, and that was the year our son's band was performing on one of the floats in the parade. Every other year, we stayed at home to avoid the thousands of tourists who poured into our usually quiet town centre and parks. It's lovely to have people come and admire your home town, but it's also a bit off-putting when you decide on the spur of the moment to pop into town for a bit of shopping or to have lunch or coffee at a favourite eatery and then find yourself stuck in traffic jams or endlessly circling the streets for a parking spot.
So, ever mindful that discretion is the better part of valour, we were content to listen as our friends recounted horror stories about crowds queuing to snake their way through our local parks and gardens, while we stayed resolutely at home.
However, having lived on the coast for the past 10+ years, we decided mid-way through last month that it was Time to See the Gardens, so we packed up our Hobbitmobile and set off on our adventure to the town we once knew. And wouldn't you know it, we had a wonderful couple of days. We did wait until the main festival was over before we ventured forth, and as a result, we were able to indulge in all the touristy things, but without the accompanying crowds.
The gardens were only just past their peak, as you can see in the photos here, and the crowds were only lingering in one or two public gardens ... but for the rest of the time, we almost had it to ourselves.
I really admire people who manage to get flowers to grow ... I rarely succeed. I always start out so enthusiastically ... poring over gardening books and plant catalogues, tramping up and down the aisles at local nurseries, filling my trolley with a glorious selection of seedlings or those more advanced punnets nurserymen call 'potted colour.' Then I get them home, plant them and stand hosing them in as I day-dream about the riot of colour promised on the plant tags.
But alas and alack, it never quite works out that way, and more usually the whole thing ends in tears. The storm-season rains come and wash everything away, or we get put on higher-level water restrictions because there's a drought, or the snails come and tell all their mates about the delicious buffet laid on at the Stewarts (and since I don't have the heart to put out poison pellets for them, they eat the lot). Just as a by-the-by, I recall an older gardener telling me many years ago (when I was still young and innocent in these matters) that one of the best ways to discourage snails was to put out saucers of beer around target plants.
This is I did, until I realised that the beer wasn't there to distract them from the tucker, like a keg at a barbie, but was in fact there to lure them in so they'd drown! And you know me well enough by now to appreciate why I didn't put beer out again for my snails!
So there was method in our madness of paving the front area of our garden (which I told you about many moons ago here).
We're happy with our paved terraces and our easy-care gardens of palms, tough old agapanthus and perfumed jasmine rambling over the fences. All our plants have learnt to look after themselves, because it's definitely a case of the quick and the dead.
I know. It's an odd expression, and it always confounded me when I was growing up. "Quick and dead?" I wondered. "How?"
But then I discovered that the "quick" here refers not to speed, but to living people, and it comes from an Old English word cwic, cwicu meaning 'living.' In Middle English, this became quik, meaning 'lively, moving, swift.' It's interesting that of our two modern meanings of quick, the one that has fallen by the wayside is the original meaning of being alive.
You thought this was just going to be a bit of a ramble about gardens, but instead you've learnt the origin of another two words!
See this week's Little Something Extra for some great news if you're a gardener and you want to write a book about your passion (or about anything else for that matter). No, I'm not saying any more at this stage ... you'll have to be patient.
And a couple of questions for the kiddies ...
Q. Why do melons have fancy weddings?
A. Because they cantaloupe.
Q. Why do potatoes make good detectives?
A. Because they keep their eyes peeled.
This week's quiz:
Here are some great gardening words ... just so you can impress fellow green-thumbs at your next get-together. Do that thing you do ...
monoecious, bipinnate, acaulescent, glabrous, axil, calyx, dioecious, anther, peduncle, umbel
1. the modified leaves which surround and protect flower buds; all the outermost group of floral parts
2. pollen-bearing part of the stamen
3. plant that has no stem or appears to have no stem - though it may be hidden underground
4. having separate male and female parts on the same plant
5. where the primary leaflets are divided into two - or secondary leaflets
6. a group of flowers growing from a common point on a stem
7. upper angle between a leaf stalk and the stem where new buds and stems arise
8. a flower stalk, supporting either a cluster or a solitary flower
9. separate plants for male and female
10. hairless, but not necessarily smooth
Some words of advice to anyone planning to garden this weekend ...
Don't expect a bonsai tree to grow the miniature you plant it.
You can't expect to have a garden full of plants if you haven't botany.
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Last week's quiz:
Identify and remove the redundancies in the following expressions:
1. nape of the neck (NAPE is the back of the neck)
2. old adage (ADAGE means 'traditional saying expressing a common experience or observation)
3. past experience (EXPERIENCE means 'knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what one has observed, encountered, or undergone ... in the PAST)
4. positive identification (IDENTIFICATION is 'the act of identifying or the state of being identified')
5. new innovation (INNOVATION means 'something new or different introduced')
6. reflect back (the prefix RE- means 'back')
7. regular routine (ROUTINE means 'a customary or regular course of procedure')
8. period of time (a PERIOD is 'any specified division or portion of time')
9. nostalgia for the past (NOSTALGIA means 'a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time')
10. plan ahead (a PLAN is 'a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc., developed in advance')
And any parent can relate to this ...
A toddler was found chewing on a slug, and after the initial surge of disgust his mother said, "Well . . . What does it taste like?"
The toddler thought for a moment, then replied, "Worms."
A Little Something Extra
The website for a great Aussie gardening show here
Write an ebook about gardening (or anything else) in just 10 days! here. (This is a little ripper ... once you start reading it, you'll be leaping out of your seat with excitement and enthusiasm, trying to decide which idea to use as the basis for your first ebook.) There's even an iron-clad guarantee that if you don't make $1000 from your ebook in the first month, you'll get a full refund! How's that for confidence?
Lots of great articles to give you ideas of the sorts of topics people are interested in ... use these topics as the basis for your ebook here.
Oxymoron of the week: Low maintenance garden (Ha! Say no more!)
Word of the week: Xeric (adj) a plant or landscape that conserves water and protects the environment; most xeric plants will need minimal supplemental watering after an establishment period unless there is an extreme drought.
Something we should all be planting if we live in drought prone places. It comes from the Greek word xeros, meaning ... (wait for it) ... 'dry!'
Did you know that you can have your very own Latin reminders?
How about undies proclaiming, Bene est rex esse? (It's good to be king)
Or a shopping bag that warns, Emptrix nata sum (Born to shop)? Click here
for these and more:
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Copyright Jennifer Stewart 2011
Individual articles copyrighted by their authors.
Copyright 2009 Jennifer Stewart Write101.com