05 October, 2009

The Light and the Dark

Freesia alba
Deeply rooted in me, twice over. The plant roots because I grew it from seed about 30 years ago. Seed from Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden – distributed free to members. The little bulbs live in pots, so I don’t lose them, and return, and multiply, and spread themselves further each year. When you walk past – the scent induces euphoria. Gone to glory now! You know how, when you take a deep sniff of one of those old, dark red roses – just for a moment the fragrance is so overwhelming, that you almost black out.

Freesia falls within the Iridaceae. 46 of the world’s 65 genera are South African. Technically a corm, not a bulb. Info on cultivation, frost etc at www.plantzafrica.com

And my own roots go deep. Today I asked my mother to tell me again. How her mother loved freesias. Used to buy a bunch and place the vase on the mantelpiece. Which was high and close to the gas-light. Whose heat would draw out the fragrance. And my thoughts wander off on a tangent – my grandmother, and so my mother in her childhood, lived by gas-light! Each time I smell freesias – I say – Hullo my Grandma Jennie! Whom I never met, but, I do remember, she phoned me once, for a birthday!
On that same Scottish journey, when we went to Rest and Be Thankful, we visited the Tenement House in Glasgow. Off Sauchiehall Street – never could work out how Glaswegians say that – but obviously not the way this foreigner read it! And the House – is actually a Scottish flat – Miss Toward was a shorthand typist, who lived here from 1911 to 1965. There I could experience for myself seeing by gas-light. (Info from the National Trust for Scotland guidebook) http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/59/
The dark train of thought was triggered by this lyrical artist’s description, of dark, never BLACK. Luckily, I do not own black paint. Period. It's an old bias picked up in my early painting lessons: no black, no pre-made grays. When I want to paint something black I use sepia (a dark brown) and either Prussian or ultramarine blue. Mixed together these make a quite rich dark that can be "pushed" to a warmer or cooler feel. From http://brushandbaren.blogspot.com/2009/04/book-brush-brilliant-sky-need-we-more.html which is an interview from Walking Nature Home. ((And all that is a sad little rant, because I am cross eyed after reading blogs who choose a dark/black background for their text.))

We close with Japanese style moon-gazing in the Ungardener’s pond. The camera, has found two gorgeous goldfish, which by the clearer light of day, are simply the tiny trumpets of Cape Honeysuckle


  1. Hello there EE !
    Now after such a gap in time not being here .. I can't imagine how I could not see that amazing Elephant's Eye in your header picture .. it jumps out at me so clearly : )
    I too LOVE the scent of Freesia .. more so when we lived in Holland and had such easy access to beautiful flowers all the time .. it was flower heaven !
    Your moonlight picture of the pond is stunning .. my goal is to get moonlight pictures from the sky .. hoping for a truly huge yellow harvest moon some night this month .. you have inspired me : )

  2. My mother loves Freesias, too. They try and they try but they will never make a candle or perfume to compare with the real thing.

  3. Joy - the Ungardener says Tx, he just took the picture. And The Eye, once seen, it follows you as you walk along the road. Bit eerie, but in a guardian angel sort of way!

  4. I have freesias in the garden. They do have a euphoric scent. I love to see them bloom in the spring.

  5. Oooh I love Freesias :) Unfortunately they're not hardy enough to overwinter here, but I grow them all the same for the treat of their fragrance.

    You asked a question over at mine, so I've come over to say hello and give you the answer. Thanks for reading such a long article and then asking a question! Yes, the rubber is being used for aeration/anti compaction. The usual filler is sand, but the council are using recycled rubber instead. Now I'm not sure about this because over time there must be a chance that the hollow tining brings up rubber instead of soil. And it doesn't rot down either. I was wondering whether fine grit might be the solution instead if the usual sand isn't good for London's grass.


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Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
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Midnight in Darkest Africa

Midnight in Darkest Africa
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