When I consider everything that grows
Saturday, July 03, 2021
|3 June 2021|
Working in the garden in the last couple of months I have
been hit with the bittersweet sight of plants that Rosemary put into pots and
never told me about. I call them her posthumous surprises. There is this lovely lily that opened up just a few days
ago in the morning and dazzled me. It is tempting to keep this garden as a
monument to my Rosemary but some plants have not dealt well with the extreme
heat and I will not mourn their passing. Luckily I am never alone as Niño and Niña follow me. They disappear only when I unroll the hose to water the plants.
Sonnet 15: William Shakespeare
When I consider everything that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and check'd even by the selfsame sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay
To change your day of youth to sullied night;
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.
Kevin Loring - Lytton - Where the Blood Mixes (Inside My Heart)
Friday, July 02, 2021
|Kevin Loring - Photograph - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
My eldest daughter Alexandra in 2007 left Vancouver and
bought a one acre property in Lillooet. When my Rosemary and I went there for
the first time we could not
understand why anybody would have to suffer such heat. In the middle of the
night it all seemed like a nightmare. In the end we know she made a good decision.
Since then Ale has happily taught elementary school there
and when we moved from our large garden in Kerrisdale to our present little
duplex in Kits, Ale’s garden became a refuge for all my Gallica Roses and
hostas. They are happy there and they seem to tolerate the temperature
Depending how we went to Lillooet either by the Whistler/Pemberton
road or by Highway 1 we would drive (the Highway 1 route) through the little
town of Lytton.
Today as I have read of the fire conflagration that has
virtually destroyed the town and much of its First Nations neighbourhoods past
the Fraser and Thompson Rivers.
And there was only one thought that came to my mind and
this was of writer/actor Kevin Loring who is from Lytton and wrote a lovely
play, Where the Blood Mixes about his town. My Rosemary and I went to the opening of his play at the
Kay Meek Centre. I wrote about, see below.
Where the Blood Mixes Inside My Heart
Residential School play - Children of God
More on the Children of God
For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again
Lillooet - The Blood Mixes in My Heart
In a city with a poor memory I wonder how many others
will remember Kevin Loring and his play (the only one ever written about Lytton
I would guess).
No Rhyme - Reason
Thursday, July 01, 2021
Poetry has always frustrated me. In school, particularly in
high school we were given extra points in class if we memorized a poem. I never tried. In
elementary school I remember my mother making me repeat lines, over and over so
I might memorize the assigned poem. It was terrible and I know I must have
cried at my futile efforts.
While I am able to write an efficient blog and for quite a
few years magazines and newspapers paid me to write I have never attempted
I love poetry and film but never have I been tempted to
shoot video. I am happy with one photograph at a time.
I look at these two pictures of Olena that I took with my
Fuji X-E3 at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 and I wish I could write
an accompanying poem that might go hand in hand with them.
Once the half-tone process was invented at the end of the
1870s photographs could now appear in newspapers, magazines and books. Until
the bottom fell out from g8ood journalism and magazines a few years ago
photographs and illustrations shared space because the combination added
context to both the copy and the image.
Now in this 21st century perfect photographs with
no copy have no context and in my opinion they fail. Even a lousy photograph of
a cat if followed by information on the cat and the opinion of its owner works for
me. Those pristine photographs, with equipment references in detail, leave me
The vertical photograph of my friend Olena for me elicits a
strange feeling of Eros. I played with making her skin more blue, less blue,
more yellow, less yellow and with different degrees of red. But there is a
mystery in the pose that I could never shoot again. This one was off the cuff
and it worked. To put a purpose before shooting something like this would
defeat the process.
The second photograph is my recent obsession with getting an
accurate skin colour. I believe I achieved it partly because Olena has infinite
patience for work methods.
Now, the above is not a poem. But it will have to do.
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
|Eryngium x zabelli 'Big Blue' & Verbena bonariensis - 30 June 2021|
Wearing my wrist watch on my right wrist has helped to
remind me to appear positive when folks ask me how I am. I try to answer in a
chipper way but 7 months after my Rosemary’s death to me it seems it was only
Those who were raised as Roman Catholics or anybody who has researched
the Virgin Mary may explain that while you pray to God when you “pray” to
the Virgin Mary it amounts to this, “Because you are His mother, you have an
understanding and good connection. You are a fountain of influence. Could you
intercede for me and tell Him to help me with this problem?”
Thus she is someone you go to intercede for you when you are
weighed by bureaucracy.
These days I see my Niño and Niña as a direct connection to
Rosemary. They somehow intercede (they are living go-betweens) for me as they and I shared her. Niña, who
really was exclusively Rosemary’s cat, does not leave me alone. If I sit down
she wants to climb on my lap - ditto when I am in bed. She meows at me all the time for attention.
While one of my daughters visits me twice a week and the
older daughter will eventually drive from Lillooet, now that traveling is allowed,
my two cats are a constant reminder of our former connection with our mistress that was Rosemary.
The same happens when I work in the garden. Plants are not
moving and living animals. That is true. But every plant in this Kits garden
has Rosemary’s face on it. And many, just like the cats, have this intimate
connection with her. She planted them; she fussed over them, she watered them
and protected them.
I can think, that when this pandemic is over, that I may
travel to Buenos Aires to see my family. But since I went with Rosemary at
least four times, the city is no place that in my memory does not have her living presenc. It is a place we shared
and enjoyed. How will I handle the trip?
The scan for this blog features two of Rosemary’s faves (and
mine, too). We both loved the prickly blue eryngium. We have had eryngiums in our garden since the
late 80s. Our all-time favourite was Eryngium giganteum ‘Miss Wilmott’s Ghost’.
The other plant is an annual that seeds itself and can be
invasive. It is Verbena bonariensis. This is the only plant in our garden that
comes from Argentina and South America. Rosemary has always grown it knowing
that I would understand her gesture.
Scanning these two plants today came with a large dose of
Robin Dening and his lovely Rosa 'Betsy Sinclair'
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
|Rosa 'Betsy Sinclair' 29 June 2021|
One of the pleasures of being a gardener is to discover a
new plant and particularly a new rose. Today I went to Mandeville Garden Works
to meet up with Vancouver Island rose grower Robin Dening. He was delivering
his one gallon potted roses which are carefully propagated by this man who is
all good manners and grace. It is no surprise to me that when he grows his
roses they like him (I believe in this sort of stuff). The new rose I bought is named after his wife, Betsy Sinclair.
Dening has been on a hiatus until recently. He somehow
weathered the storm of the decline in nurseries when people started buying barbecues
for their condominium balconies instead of plants. For years I visited his
lovely nursery, Brentwood Bay Nursery, which was not far from the Victoria ferry
It was neat to see Dening in his then trademark white hat tending
to his plants.
Like America, Dening is back. He has a relationship with
Mandeville Garden Works manager Darrell Dzielke to whom he bring his healthy plants.
|Robin Dening at Mandeville Garden Works - 29 June 2021|
This is a very good thing for Lower Mainland rose gardeners. We will no longer have to depend on buying iffy roses that come from either
Texas or back east.
But added to the pleasure of chatting with Dening (he had to
leave in a hurry to catch a ferry back to Victoria as he had to water his plants
due to the terrible heat) was to finally see his own rose Rosa ‘Betsy Sinclair.
Of the rose all Dening could tell me is that he found a tiny
seedling a few years ago and it grew to be this rose with very nice scent and a
delicate apricot colour that my Rosemary would have loved.
Sometime this evening I will plant my Betsy Sinclair. I tip
my hat to the grower.