Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Under the Glare

In Melbourne's summers, the grass burns to straw,
leaves and branches fall from Eucalypts,
the soil turns to dust
and all that moves are the wind and insects.
Even hardy succulents and sun-lovers wilt and singe.
Days in the mid-30s ( 35 degrees Celsius = 95 degrees Fahrenheit ) are not uncommon.
You go outside into the simmering heat and want to faint.
You realise it's silent because the birds have stopped singing.
I am spending countless hours watering, nursing the garden, keeping strong.

Saturday, January 21, 2012



Never give me what I want -
I, losing my footing,
am the font
of all meandering.

You had suspected
someone, with some gumption,
would have trodden
purposefully -
unlike me - to all the others

You will want to replace me,
sooner or later,
with an individual
unable to make an assumption -

Faisal Grant, 21/01/2012.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The genuine writer: Frank O'Connor.

I've not found a story of Frank O'Connor's yet that makes me want to disconnect. He had a big heart, a sharp eye and a sense of fair play. My favourite of his stories come out of his observations of childhood: the child, ever perceptive, is nonetheless captured within the confounding circumstances of family, and must express himself.
A gentle man, I highly recommend his short stories, regarded as among the best ever written.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ancestral Voices

Within me is an inclination to be following, through books, mid-20th century British culture.
For whatever circumstantial reasons, it was a culture delighting in its newfound voice, a massive heritage and emerging media.
I come across a network of often eccentric personalities expressing themselves through interconnected art-forms.
James Lees-Milne ( 1908-1997 ) appears to have been born to write about Britain's glorious architecture, being acquainted with the lives that inherited or were informed by the finest of it.
And what has this to do with gardening?
To me, it's all about the recognition of surroundings, and of making commitments strong enough to rescue them from threat.
Gardeners, I presume, are fighters, building or defending their sense of sanctuary. The world we live in is often ruthless and self-serving: art, buildings, nature and gardens are vulnerable. To garden, to cultivate anything of worth, is to rebel against meaninglessness, to preserve a space from chaos, or, at least, to negotiate some sort of sustainable deal with chaotic forces.
"Ancestral Voices is the first  of three volumes of a diary James Lees-Milne kept from 1942 to 1947 when he was employed to inspect historic buildings offered by their...owners to the National Trust. Lively, frank, witty, sometimes scandalous, it is immensely entertaining reading." - from the back jacket; with grateful thanks to the estate of James Lees-Milne and Faber and Faber.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Christmas Beetle

The Christmas beetle ( genus Anoplognathus ) is one of 35 species native to Australia. So-called because of its appearance around Christmas time. I've always thought the name was given because of the opalescent sheen. I remember finding thousands of them washed up on the beach during summer holidays around Aldinga in South Australia when I was a boy. This one had hidden itself away in a terracotta pot, but has been re-located under a gum tree. Christmas isn't just one day of the year...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Threat and counter-threat are nothing in Australia's landscapes. Fires spark from out of nowhere, torching lives, networks and meaning. But we are too strong to let adversity eradicate us.