Sunday, April 5, 2009

Rus in urbe

The lilly pilly trees outside my windows are heavy with fruit.

Lilly Pilly trees

It seems a shame that so much natural bounty should go to waste. A couple of years ago one of my neighbours collected the fruit and made jam, but I suspect the time and effort both in harvesting the fruit and making the jam might be rather onerous. Anyway, I don't eat jam. As an aside, this reminds me of a wonderful film by French director Agnes Varda called The Gleaners and I in which she quirkily examines people who live on 'gleanings' from what is left over or cast aside. Probably a lesson for our times, though interestingly, IMDb user comments summarise it as 'A great film maker examines the role of the artist in society'. Glean whatever meaning (or combination of meanings) that you wish.

I grew up in a house with a large garden, and parents - my father in particular - who were keen gardeners. We had fruit trees (apples, pears, plums, peaches, cherries, figs, almonds, apricots, lemons, oranges) as well as a large vegetable garden that supplied all our needs, and those of many of our neighbours. My father disapproved of trees that weren't useful, and the decorative part of the garden was made up of roses, some flowering shrubs, and colourful, profuse displays of labour-intensive annuals. Poppies were his favourites, and I still think of him every time I see a bunch of poppies.

Despite this beginning, I've voluntarily lived almost all my adult life in an apartment. For the last twenty-five years I've lived in an apartment that doesn't even have a balcony. It's not that I don't like gardens - I do - public gardens or other people's gardens give me a great deal of pleasure. But I don't like the constant commitment of gardening.

As a consequence, I'm very aware of and pleased by all the trees, shrubs, and other plantings that are in my daily life. At present the lilly pillys are a central part of this pleasure. I'm particularly fortunate that my apartment building has an internal courtyard garden that's lovingly tended by a team of volunteer resident gardeners. The garden's rather shady, but in the morning there's a patch of sun outside my apartment that they've planted with bright bromeliads, which continuously delight me.


Another of my neighbours has her own courtyard, with profuse plantings and an ever-expanding frangipani tree. Each year she prunes it vigorously and the cuttings are 'struck' in pots in the courtyard. Perhaps another case of gleaning? Some of these are now quite large, and their distinctive fragrance and waxy white and gold colours are evocative of Sydney late summer evenings.


I glean my delight in gardens from what's left behind of the fruits of others' gardening labour.


Lynne said...

I once was into gardening but then computers became a way of life. So now, WM gardens and I enjoy the fruits of his labours!

Bells said...

I remember that film. It was lovely.

What a beautiful approach you have then, with the desire to glean from others' gardens.

A beautiful set of photos.

Bells said...

and yes it is a commitment, one I'm not always so good at sticking to. I have the desire, but not always the ability to execute.

Kate said...

I love Lillypillys. We have them in the back yard but the birds eat all the fruit.

I made an attempt to make jam from an very prolific tree on the GWH at Woodford but it turned into toffee so I must try again.

Emily said...

So THOSE are Lilly Pillies - Bex was trying to explain them to me. think I've trodden on more than a few fruits.

I love all those pictures of Sydney flowers - here we're enjoying a bright spring - snowdrops are gone, lovely daffs now, and crocuses, and the magnolia outside our house (that we're not living in but there's another tale) is just coming into full flower. The grass is very green everywhere and trees are edged with the bright new leaves. Delight around every corner!

Rose Red said...

If you do ever feel the need to garden, I'm very happy to offer you mine!!

Great photos.