The shortest day has passed, again. Thank goodness for cycles. Thank goodness we can rest, and grow and bloom and fruit and rest.
It means winter has really begun in earnest here, and it has poured! The seasonal creek is foaming. Rivulets fall and braid and carve out new channels in the hillside. They chase one another down the dirt road. I shelter and reflect and rest. I panic when I take stock of all the things I haven't done, yet. It's the time for all those things that need to be deep in the earth, to build and anchor and establish; to do their dark work. But I'm not properly planted yet!
I think, how amazing it will be when I can really grow. When I'm established. Right now, I'm more of a tumbleweed that dreams of being a tree! But already I'm looking forward to the warm season, when it's dry and days are long and I can build, so that next winter, I'm ready. Ready for the dark work.
So much goes on underground during these times in our mild climate. In any climate. Chemical processes are underway that lead to life's expressive, glorious summer. And as all those processes gather pace, the pendulum of light returns.
My (almost total) disappearance 5 years ago from posting here in the lily forum was directly related to creating a FB account for connecting with even more Lilium hybridists around the world. I was never, ever going to have a FB account.... Ever. But. Lorn - the wonderful, kind and inspiring Lorn - persuaded that there was a whole world of lily folk out there, and I would enjoy connecting with these dedicated fanatics. He was right. I feel teary now, but I will save my gratitude for having known Lorn for another time when I can do those memories justice.
FB. For all its flaws as a platform, it gives something. It prompts remembering, for one thing. It recalls things for us. Today, it provided a 'memory' (3 pictures) from 5 years ago. Which is how I know I've been 'gone' that long, or else the blur would never resolve into figures. It's a lily I grew some time ago from seed, and one I liked. But looking at the old pics now, I realise I didn't appreciate it enough. I love it - the subtle colour, the architecture - but it is gone. It disappeared somewhere in a garden that I began and since have all but abandoned. There have been too many gardens and too many lilies, left behind and left to the fates. Lilies which to me are expressions of art; created but random; synergies of intent and chance. They have been my life's work. My longest thread.
In a way it is ok that they appeared and were nurtured, cherished and enjoyed for a finite time. In a way. In another way, I would have liked to have valued them more, and not just their memory. I would have liked to have sustained them. I would have liked to see them at their fullest potential. Share them. Feel warm in recognition of them. I would have liked to have developed them. But I let them go. FB reminds me, damnit FB. There's another one I lost. As though my will to fight for my creative offspring were somehow deficient. There's something about loss that triggers guilt. I wonder is this universal? There are other ways to see it and other ways to feel. But sometimes the Big Feels are failure. Loss. I think this is a challenge to the child's reasoning: "If I value something enough, I won't lose it", and inversely, "If I lose it, I didn't value it enough". But we do. Both hold value and experience loss. Despite longing. Truth is, things get gone. Stay gone.
I'm glad more than ever for images.
Today I made my first plantings in home soil - my new garden. 'Soil' in this case might be a generous term. Home is a dusty patch of native bushland set upon a precipitously steep substrate of mudstone. If it weren't for the tree roots tying the hillside together, it could perhaps be the valley floor. Those same roots are surely working upon cracking apart the mudstone blocks deep underground. Which is a good thing. In winter the soil is like a sponge. Water follows those root lines and seeps deep into the hill; the mud swells. But now, at the peak of summer, all is dust.
What could I be planting at such a time? Hmm... let's also consider the wildlife. The desperately hungry possums, the ravenous macropods. A juicy green leaf is rare this time of year. And while the macropods will search high and low for those rare leaves, possums.... Possums will eat anything, almost anything. Buckets with a whiff of compost juices, Kentucky Fried Chicken cartons in the camp fireplace. Hell, boot leather, even. You'd think they'd get hungry enough to try the Eucalypt leaves, wouldn't you? But no. Nibbling upon the spikiest of potted Aloes is better than eating gum leaves. I ask... what did brush-tail possums do before Europeans brought global flora to these shores? Starved, I bet.
But anyway. Dust. Possums. etc... What on earth could I be planting on a 45 degree incline, in possum-plagued dust, in the middle of summer? Belladonna. Amaryllis belladonna. If anything gardeners planted in Australia was possum-proof, drought-proof, plain old indestructible, it was the classic naked lady. There is a field not far from here that turns patchwork pink in late summer when the blooms appear. The rest of the year, you would never know they were there.
But I haven't planted the 'plain' old pink variety. Or any of the more select pink strains. I have, I hope, planted 'Hathor'. Hathor is a creamy white. I was given 3 bulbs of it some 35 years ago by my RHS gardening Aunt (as opposed to my Farm-stead gardening Aunt), and planted them in my childhood garden. I planted one each at the base of a conifer. I was small. The conifers were small. They bloomed. 'Hathor', not the conifers. I moved away and time passed.
This year, my regular trek to the old property to visit my elderly father, fell around New Year. Wandering round the remains of my old garden whilst dodging cow pats (it is now a cow paddock), I discovered my dad had cut the bottom limbs off those three conifers. Bare trunks were now conveniently cow height - cows love a good back-scratch on a conifer bough! - and revealed long-unseen ground. Beside each trunk was a clump of dried up leaves. Hathor! All these years in dense shade and each Hathor had not only survived but become a clump. And it was perfect timing to dig and replant! I say 'dig', but what it really entailed was a crowbar. Yes.
Joyful - but not inconsiderable - effort, resulted in a heavy bag full of bulbs. They have to be Hathor, right? That's what I planted there all those years ago. Anyway. Today I have planted around two dozen bulbs of various sizes in my home soil, and I have another dozen or so very small bulbs to pot up. It felt rather momentous to be planting the very same (and all their daughter!) bulbs in my new home. This is my place now, and I have begun the journey of cultivation with a legacy gifted me from childhood and an encouraging aunt. I shall nurture the dust and together we shall raise a garden of inedible delights! Hahahahha, Poss, just like the good old days, when everything tasted awful or made you sick, eh?