25 September, 2009

Rest and Be Thankful

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity

EDITED January 2014

Rest and Be Thankful, near Loch Lomond in Scotland

In the early nineties we travelled through Scotland. In a large figure eight, through the Highlands, all the way up to John O’ Groats. I had no idea Scotland was so large it would take days to travel through.

(The North is distorted by trying to draw a round world on a rectangular map. The Peters projection shows true area, but elongates the familiar shape of the continents. The Gall-Peters projection was first described in 1855 by clergyman James Gall. He formally published his work in 1885 in the Scottish Geographical Magazine. From Wikipedia) And that the Highland Clearance had left swathes of uninhabited land. Stopped at one of the abandoned villages, so much sadness in the air, I can still feel it. As in the avenues through the forests at Dellville Wood, where I thought of my mother‘s father, who is buried in the Bucquoy Road cemetery near Arras.

Planted the trees in December 2007

One year later, December 2008

The Ungardener reads maps, as a musician reads music. And I read this. Reading, is about words. Isn’t it? So we have those conversations, when I am “navigating”, missed the turnoff – can’t you see it is after we cross under the power lines, and before the little bridge over the stream. Hang on; I am still trying to work out if we are travelling up the page or down. So, on the map of Scotland there is a place called Rest and Be Thankful. Truly, near Loch Lomond. A mountain pass they constructed, and finally reached the top on a Sunday. You can read the story here arrocharheritage The picture at the beginning is from the web, ours was on paper, and the wind was blowing so hard that day, I couldn’t hold the camera still!

Green bower in June this year

After Pani’s Falls, “we” dug out the pond, and the soil was dumped as a berm behind the waterfall, giving us a “High Road” and a different perspective on our garden. In time, when the trees (the Ungardener loves trees, you can never have too many trees …) have grown, I’ll rename it the Woodland Walk, which is less pretentious, but hey, it is our garden.

These trees are Searsia (formerly Rhus. Searsia was named after Paul B. Sears (1891-1990) who was head of the Yale School of Botany – from PlantZAfrica. Behind the bench Bergkaree - Searsia leptodictya, which has lovely corky bark as it matures. Then, when it arches over the bench, I can rest my head against it. Sneer at tree huggers? Have you never rested your head against a wise, old tree and connected with nature. Become an integral, functional part of the web of life. Breathing in the oxygen from your tree, breathing out the carbon dioxide for your food crops. God is in his heaven, all is right with the world?

Salvia africana-lutea

The two on each side of the bench are Witkaree – Searsia lancea, more upright in growth than the Bergkaree, which arches affectionately down in an embrace, as a willow tree does. They have trifoliate fragrant leaves. And are related to mangoes, pistachios, cashews and the Brazilian pepper tree. But you need a female tree for fruit … Karee means Karoo, a semi desert area of the Western Cape, with glorious scenery, and WIDE open spaces, where the soul can breathe freely.

Plectranthus neochilus

Then because we like to sit here, I have planted flowers. A necklace of Gazanias – these spectacular modern hybrids will die off after two years – but they scintillate now! We have various indigenous salvias. This Salvia africana-lutea has unusual burnt orange flowers. The muishondblaar, Plectranthus neochilus is a cousin of madagascariensis. The Ungardener is determined to call it lavender, but, the leaves can be used to deter flies. They smell strong, not so pleasant, if you brush up against them.

November 2009

We had rain for 7 days. A whole week. Seven days in a row. 103 mm! Like England or Ireland. And we are going into summer. Winter is our rainy season. And even then, if it rains for a few days. Then the sky clears. And we wander round in shorts and T shirt in the garden again.

November sunset at Rest and Be Thankful

The Ungardener sees the big picture. The long term. After a week, the sun broke thru again. I raised my eyes from this laptop, and saw thru the window, wonderful clouds. Followed my eyes to gaze on our mountain. And reflection, now we have cleared the pond of invasive Kariba weed. That is the royal we, the Ungardener got his feet wet. It is his pond.

Flowers at Rest and Be Thankful

I see the details. The flowers. This combination of blue, reddish and yellow. The three primary colours, which clash when combined in manmade tones. But I love this lively combination. The blue is Plectranthus neochilus (= muishondblaar). The Ungardener is determined to call it lavender. From a distance? But up close it smells ferociously herbal. It is supposed to deter flies if you bang a stalk on the windowsills. The reddish is a deep orange Gazania. Chosen because I love its flamboyant flowers. And in our last garden, every time I planted it. It died. And the yellow is a gift from nature. A basal rosette of leaves. And generous heads of sunny yellow flowers. A weed, in other words. One of the Ungardener’s free spirited plants. All welcome here. Except Paterson's Curse Pretty flower?

Paradise (our rose garden), In a Persian garden. Beyond the wall, our neighbour’s trees. Borrowed scenery. 


  1. What a great view.

    When I rest my head against a tree I notice they're both made of the same thing.

  2. I, too, love trees. They are big and wise and one feels so safe under their branches. Your other plantings are really nice.

  3. Sigh. The infamous clearing of the Highlands. Scotland and especially the Highlands are on my must-see list (though my own Scots ancestors, the Merritts, were from the Lowlands). But I hate even now to think of all those acres being stripped of trees and people for the sake of sheep! Thanks for explaining the title of your post, now I've learned something!

  4. OFB We still have two photos from that holiday, hanging on our living room wall. Scotland was so beautiful we couldn't stop taking photos.

  5. Lovely! Boy your tree sure did sprout out in one year! I love the photo with the reflection of your salvias.

  6. I never hug trees. I find them very alien. I would as soon hug a column in a cathedral. They awe me rather - even the ones that look like they might be huggable like the hairy sequoiadendron.

    I love your garden though - it is a beautiful reference point to compare it with Scotland.

  7. What a beautiful view! How could one not rest and be thankful after looking at that? So much beauty you have surrounding you in your own part of the world too.

    Thank you very much for your kind words on our anniversary.

    Hugs ~ FlowerLady Lorraine


Photographs and Copyright

Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
My Canon PowerShot A490

If I use your images or information, it will be clearly acknowledged with either a link to the website, or details of the book. If you use my images or words, I expect you to acknowledge them in turn.

Midnight in Darkest Africa

Midnight in Darkest Africa
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