My dad did not like garlic nor plastic flowers. Any devon sausage infused with garlic was not for him. Worse were the plastic flowers. Already then, plastic flowers and even plastic plants were a normal occurrence in people’s homes. ‘They last forever and look so pretty, almost like real flowers,” many would say. Dad despaired about the country that so loved gardening, yet so accepting of that which wasn’t real. Is there anything else that is not real, he felt like asking?
Years later I worked for someone who had a holiday house at Palm Beach, North of Sydney. Avid readers of my blog might remember, my ruminating over my first visit to Palm Beach noting a total absence of waving palms. How could anything be so blatantly wrong? Was this legal?
While in Palm Beach working, I came across a garden where the owner had actually planted plastic peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) in the garden. They were in full flower (perennially), a bit faded, but none the less flowering profusely. They weren’t real but that did not seem to bother the owner at all. I find that terrible. What else is accepted that is not real?
Recently, our local council has e-mailed all those with e-mail asking residents for input about planning the future of this shire. This includes the planting of trees along streets. In the past many cherry blossom trees were planted which looked out of place. The profusion of pink cherry blossoms in Spring at odds with the beauty of the native Eucalypts and fiery Callistemon.
This area is very dominated and historically been peopled by many from England. Ireland and Scotland. The highlands with its much cooler climate reminded many of the ‘old’ country and subsequently many tried to make their houses and gardens a bit like Sussex, James Joyce’s or Oscar Wilde’s hair, or Edinburgh castles. Some gardens have little rose covered arches. Cute white painted cement-cast angels keeping watch over equally cute cement toddlers reading a book together in dappled light of an aged oak. You can’t help but take out a Thomas Hardy book and then try find a yeoman…, a Timothy the Thatcher or perhaps do a tempestuous Pride of Erin at the local food court.
Yes, the council plants year in year out the same plastic Christmas tree. A large one in the middle of a cosy town square. It doesn’t even look real. It’s plastic shimmering in the baking sun. My dad would have written a letter to council, back in 1974 but now it is 2015, almost on the cusp of 2016!
With all the love of gardening and asking for input, council puts up an artificial tree? What has changed? Surely a live tree could have been put up or even a cut-down pine or spruce? Something real. Christmas deserves that. What an example to the children!
The Christmas tree isn’t the only plastic greenery council has put up. The shopping streets in the small towns have all been decorated with cute little baskets of petunias, but…they are plastic. Of course in cold winters one would not have petunias, so…it makes it worse. And…council is employing town-planners…asking for input from locals…? What is going on here? They know better in Bali or Thailand. Nothing plastic flowering there.
This year we bought a small tree made from small slats of sun- bleached driftwood. It isn’t real but it does not pretend (to be real). Each year we normally take in a real conifer that we have growing in a pot. This year we thought it just too heavy to drag in. On the front door we hung a garland of intertwined wooden sinewy twigs which could also have been made from flotsam found along a Balinese beach. It is artistic and honest, unpretentious. In the middle of this garland is suspended a little wooden star ringed by very small electric little lights that go on as soon as it gets dark. Both look so nice and more real.
We will look at our driftwood decorations together and enjoy the Christmas spirit.