Now that we had a few drops of rain with the heat in retreat, my attention has gone away from watching the spinning electric fan to the outside world. Watching a spinning fan is not as riveting as watching a petrol bowser ticking over, but someone has to do it.
Heat does that to you. It befuddles and temporarily anesthetises the brain. My Dutch cool climate gene is not helpful. Watching the protestors in tropical Thailand, all in turmoil, shouting and waving flags by millions proves it. Heat doesn’t slow them at all. That’s why in the cool west we protest by doing gardening. Nothing relieves the tension of a terminal protestor or the eternal curmudgeon than observing the growth of an ‘Ice-berg’ lettuce. Has anyone ever read the books or seen the gardens of Sissinghurst Castle in Kent created by Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson?
Our son bought us a couple of carnivorous plants. They are supposed to eat insects. Our grandsons were fascinated by them and roamed the room seeking to kill flies. They finally got one and fed the poor blighter inside their trumpet like plant foliage. Nothing happened and I said that they weren’t very hungry yet. When they went to bed I took the body of the fly out and told the grandsons next morning that the plant must have had a very nice evening meal. “I even put some salt on the fly for taste, I added.” Lately they have been suspicious of my silly answers but what can you do? They are growing up. Already at the mercy of lying adults! My grandsons are learning fast from their duplicitous grand-dad! Anyway, those plants do devour insects by some kind of acidic process. It’s not as if you can actually hear them chewing. You can’t feed them mice or a King rat for instance.
I remember my dad doing the gardening in Australia. The merciless heat and rock hard soil. He would hack away at it for months, years. The parrots and rosellas laughing in the background. The drone of insects and then droughts. My mother saw gardens more for relieving the stress on her wallet. She was forever hopeful of free vegetables. If a flower did finely rear its head, out came her knife and into the vase and on the coffee table it went.
His tomatoes had worms and so did the cabbages, as well as anything else that happened to survive the parrots. He threw nets over the fruit trees with complete scaffolding all planked out in case the fruit-fly dared to lay its eggs on the flowers. Week-ends were spent on spraying expensive potions containing arsenic looking green liquids. The parrots would calmly and defiantly land on the nets and eat his fruit through the netting. It was all so bloody hard.
Our garden is Helvi’s domain and what a world it has become. Paradise would not even begin to describe it. We were fortunate that previous owners hadn’t cut the large bay trees that hides the boundary-fence and gives us a feeling of a natural enclosure, a safe and secure protection against elements. Not that we expect a bow and arrow wild man to appear but it does give an aura of a boundless nature plot, a jungle, however small it actually is. Things are allowed to grow without restraints or discipline.
The result of liming the acidic soil helped together with tons of bark-mulch and shredded sugar cane with chicken poo added over the three years that we have lived here.
One great bonus has to be the alertness of our JRT ‘the one and only called ‘Milo’. Not a single rosella or parrot, crow or myna dares to even think about landing here. Milo is there his beady eyes skywards with strong intent to murder. All the birds know and warn each other. Possums, the same but at night. Milo is there on watch. There will be blood on the streets or grass. The word has got around.
If dad would only have had a Milo, his garden would have been a great success.