Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beast in me, be still.

My grandfather, Royce Spinkston, fought at Gallipoli and later in France, during WWI. He abhorred war, and was much happier gardening. The German sword below ( Deutsche Maschinenfabrik, A-G, Duisburg ), which I suppose came home with him as a trophy, was used in his garden as a stake, a much better purpose than the one for which it was made.
A hotel broker, he helped found the Australian Iris Society in 1948, and became its first Honorary Secretary and Editor. It seems that he was also Australia's major importer of irises ( his favourite flower ) at that time. A good part of my own interest in gardens has come to me through him. He wrote a vast number of  letters too, so perhaps that trait is also genetic.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Evidence of Gardening...

Don't think I'm just sitting around, staring into space...

Don't say I don't get involved, or get down to business... 

See? I told you: it's all go, go. go...

Evidence - wherever you look...

I even have a witness...


Perhaps it is wrong to admit that I am a writing gardener. Gardeners garden, and writers write. For me, you do what you do, whether it's sanctified by habit or authority, or not. Life starts all over again each day...when I write, the words may not pertain to custom, just as when I garden, the gardens made may not pertain to customs taken as customary gardening.
But the custom is, of course, to explain what I'm doing. In these poems, I am living the life I would otherwise be living if my garden were other than it is. I am writing myself out of the way.. I am writing to transplant myself into the garden I have always seen, but never encountered...
( Please note, the writer apologises for not gardening ).


Colourless, I nonetheless
wade through
the night, unblinking.

Who'd have thought
such camouflage
would last?

Some there are, suggest
such faith unthinking,
the future, past...

Faisal Grant, 24 June, 2011.

A Grey Garden

Nearer now, am I, to returning to 'garden' posts. But for this poem, sprung out tonight:  

A Grey Garden

I was dead - wasn't I? -
but then some hands

came dowm from the sky
and got me sprouting.

This bulb I am -
twisted, grey, antique -

has started to declare
itself, to end all doubting.

Faisal Grant, 24 June, 2011.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Public Face

This poem is way outside the context of gardening, so I'm sorry to gardeners, or anyone preferring something less cerebral. Cold, grey weather in Melbourne has seen me writing much more. I am working on some garden ideas to post any time soon.

A Public Face


He has only this,
his public face.

No-one has asked him
if there is more,

in case it shatters the air,
or breaks a law.


If he has gone
on to convey

the public's shock and fear

relay a gulf
unbridgeably clear.


He shuts a door
more tightly fit,

dumbfounded by the strangers
and their chosen fates,

unlit. A life is real
inside, and emanates.

Faisal Grant, 23 June, 2011.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Expedition to 'Guilfoyle's ( non-erupting ) Volcano' at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

Constructed in 1876 by the second director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, Sir William Guilfoyle, the bluestone-lined volcano named after him was intended to be a reservoir.

Hidden away and virtually forgotten since the 1950s, it had an exhilarating transformation last year by landscape designer Andrew Laidlaw.

Plantings of cacti, natives, succulents and rare species from arid regions suggest the flow of lava from the crater. These are set amongst crushed rock studded with boulders. 

In the image above, a Cabbage Tree ( Cussonia paniculata ) is on the left, and Euphorbia triangularis on the right.

I didn't get all the names, but below is Aloe marlothii.

Below is the Dragon Tree ( Dracaena draco ).

The image below includes Golden Rat Tail ( Cleistocactus winterii ), Our Lord's Candle ( Hesperoyucca whipplei ), Spider Aloe ( Aloe x spinosissima ) and a native Everlasting. 

A spiralling boardwalk takes you to views from the top and a pool of floating islands - not seen here due to current works being carried out.

In the background below are several of many Barrel Cacti. You can also see the rusted and crooked railings that define the rim.

In the last image below are some Airplane Plants ( Crassula perfoliata var. minor ) and some wonderful, crimson Bromeliads.

These gardens have always been extraordinary, and continue to develop in extraordinary ways.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Garden Cabinet ( a concocted garden )...

Gardening is often hard graft - how many hours I spend on utilitarian/back-breaking/uphill tasks I don't know...being inclined to speculate, preferring theatre to pedestrian trials and aiming to avert eyes from the tedious to the resuscitating, I draw the cyber cutains aside:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Consolations of Enclosure

'Arctic' weather keeps me inside today, when I'm supposed to be helping in a friend's garden, and when I have a list of labours pending as long as my arm anyway. Here are some of the garden/landscape/nature books I especially like:

Seen here are: 1. In My Garden, by Christopher Lloyd. 2. The End of Nature, by Bill McKibben. 3. The Geography of Nowhere, by James Howard Kunstler. 4. In Pursuit of Plants, by Philip Short. 5. The Lost Gardens of Heligan, by Tim Smit. 6. The Generous Earth, by Philip Oyler. 7. Spirit: Garden Inspiration, by Dan Pearson. 8. Wildwood: a Journey through Trees, by Roger Deakin. 9. Finding Home: Writing on Nature and Culture From 'Orion' Magazine, edited by Peter Sauer. 10. A Writer's Britain ( Landscape in Literature ), by Margaret Drabble. 11. Rothschild's Reserves: Time and Fragile Nature, by Miriam Rothschild and Peter Marren. 12. Gordon Ford: the Natural Australian Garden, by Gordon Ford with Gwen Ford.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Apologies for not reporting garden goings-on lately. I'll get around to it again shortly. At this time of year, colder and darker as it is, I have alot of maintenance work - beauty is discreet or fading. When I retreat indoors, I've been preferring to be writing/creating from out of my gardening experience instead. I wrote 'Autumnal' yesterday:

Though the light
is vanishing

( the cold
cutting through
like an axe ),

the vigour
mounting -

till this darkness
fell -
will sustain
( no harm/I feel no tax ).

Faisal Grant, June, 2011.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Olivine Landscape

Olivine is my favourite mineral. When its quality is high enough for it to be cut as a gem, it's known as Peridot. 

Look for Olivine "bombs" in amongst scoria gravel. They range in size from a walnut to a lemon. The mineral itself often crumbles.

It is found beyond Earth, even in meteorites. Its earliest known classical source was at St. John's Island ( now Zabargad island ) in the Red Sea.

Victoria's largest deposit is at Mortlake, in the western district. These samples come from there.

Installed here is my die-cast lamb, appropriate representitive of the world-famous wool that has been grown in this region of extinct volcanoes.

None of us would exist without the valuable generosity of the earth given to us. 

Emblematic of purity and morality, and of spring, Olivine/Peridot is supposed to ward off negativity.