Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Zen and the Art of Gardening

According to my friend DodoWoman, my new model garden would make a perfect home for Madame Butterfly.

It was odd she should say that, as when I was constructing it, I spent some time wondering how to create butterflies that would sort of - well, flutter-by, but I didn't quite manage it. However, I don't think DodoWoman and I are talking about the same kind of butterfly, but then I don't share her personal acquaintance with Puccini's opera, or its tragic heroine.
(I shall have to take her word for it on the garden's suitability.)

The Temple glimpsed through the cherry blossom

Perhaps I'd have done a better job with a full orchestra on the other side of the kitchen table. They say children learn better if Mozart is playing softly in the background. Perhaps Puccini was just what I needed to bring the abandoned butterflies to fruition.

I was a little disappointed with the state of the sand after my attempts at raking it into gentle curves.
I don't think there is a career ahead of me in a Japanese garden.
When I mentioned this to my friend of Talentui fame, she said: 'You probably weren't using the right implement.'
'A kitchen fork,' I replied.
'Quite,' she said. 'I don't think they use forks in Japanese gardens.'

However the fossil pavement and the Sun and Moon Stone are truly remarkable, as is the Yin Yang stone - not, or course, that I take any credit for these items - all were found on our local shore.
The Yin Yang stone brings tears to my eyes whenever I see it. The In-Charge stooped down and picked it up just as we were leaving the beach one day at the end of November last year. He's good at spotting things, the In-Charge.
He handed it to me with rather a sad smile.
We had taken Under Dog to our favourite beach for one last walk there. Of course Top Dog and Model Dog came too. We didn't know it then, but as it turned out, it was the last time either of those inseparable twins ever walked that beach.
Sweet boys. How I miss them still.

The Yin Yang stone

But I digress.

It seems hard to believe, but it's a year ago that we were at this lark the first time round - making tray gardens with the kids at Beltra Country Market

Such fun, everyone loved having a go, and this year we had more kids than ever, not to mention a few parents 'helping' their offspring along. It's amazing what you can do with a supermarket tray full of sand and a load of found objects, or inexpensively bought things like lollipop sticks, pipe cleaners, pompoms and feathers.

Amazing fossils and the Sun and Moon Stone in the background

I decided to go for the Zen-Yogic-Buddhist-Transcendental-Japanese-Meditation-Temple-Garden this year, while DodoWoman built a Mayan jungle with an Aztec teocalli in the middle - the only thing missing (as she was the first to point out) being the whatsit containing a sacrificial human heart. However, don't be thinking that the kids were cheated here - she had featured a beach-combed-treasure that looked a bit like a dinosaur, rearing up on one side behind the trees. Six out of ten kids would probably prefer a dinosaur, anyway.

Now I come to think of it, it looks more like a Dodo than a Dinosaur on the left

Jil, one of my lovely German wwoofers, did a rough blueprint design for the temple. She and Marco then built the walls, but it was the In-Charge who created the roof. It is constructed from card and - well, lollipop sticks; plus one or two other stabilizing bits and bobs, like glue, gold paint and such. We were very pleased with the glittery pipe cleaners creating the necessary lilting curves, and I thought my Chinese lanterns came out a treat - especially the tassels made from embroidery silk.

The string of prayer flags was a hot favourite.

And we were pretty chuffed with the stream as well, and the ponds and the waterfalls - not to mention the dinky bridges. And the water really did cascade down over the little rocks and shells, and swooshed over the koi carp (designed and created by Jil and Marco) before collecting in the bottom pool outside the temple.
Totally thrilling.

Dinky bridges

Sadly, the water then started to dissolve the play-dough from which the stream itself was constructed, but one has to rise above such small inconveniences, stiffen one's shoulders and raise one's chin. No self-destructing pond is going to take the edge off my garden, and koi carp probably like sinking slowly into the sludge at the bottom of the stream.

Anyway, if it does slowly dissolve, by the laws of Zen, surely that's meant to be - so then the pond, the water and all will be as one with the rest of the garden..


Shame about the butterflies, though.

(You can see last year's miniature garden here.)


  1. I really love your mini-gardens!!! Great! The one from last year were great and this Zen-garden is really great, too!!! So you have german woofers now? Wish I could be there and have a short visit!!!

    1. Hi Bine - Thanks for leaving a comment and I'm glad you liked the garden as much as last year's. It was fun to make. Yes, we have two really sweet German wwoofers with us until the end of the summer.

  2. Lorely;
    Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog. Its a good way of finding cyber friends with things in common to share. I read the linked post re your dear dogs--beautifully written and reminding me of similar losses--mostly cats in our case.
    My daughter is feeling poorly today, so I've sent her a link to your blog--and I've signed up to be alerted of your postings.

    1. Hello there. Your name caught my eye, and yes, it is a good way of 'meeting people'. Thank you for sending my blog on to your daughter - what a compliment. I hope she's feeling better, and that she enjoys reading it. How nice that you've signed up!

  3. Just catching up you understand. But where are the hens? This must be the fourth post I have read and NO HENS.
    Otherwise, quite charming.


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