AHA! AN AWARD!

Deborah of Green Theatre http://kilbournegrove.wordpress.com/  has tagged me for an Honest Scrap Award.

Hmmm. What does that mean? Like most awards, there are strings attached. I must:

 A. Brag about the award. (I am not sure if that means, brag about me getting the award, or brag about the award itself, but consider it bragged.)

B. Link back to the person. (Done. Thanks, Deborah!)

C. Share 10 honest things about yourself. (Well I don’t share the dishonest things.)

D. Give the award to 7 more bloggers who inspire you. By the way, you should let them know that you have picked them, they are not mind readers you know! (So I better do that right away myself.)

The Honest Scrap award is perhaps a bit too much like some of those chain-mail emails one receives five times a day. But Blotanical is a community, and one which the better one gets to know the inhabitants, the more rooted you feel. (BAAAD pun, Jack) And so, for the many friends I’ve made on http://www.blotanical.com/  and for those who might want to explore gardening blogs further and for those who just want the dirt on me (OUCH, another), here goes…

My 7 awards:

1) Diana of Elephant’s Eye (http://elephantseyegarden.blogspot.com/  ) is a kindred spirit and a fellow South African, even if we live climates apart!

2) Fran and Saxon and team of Gardening Gone Wild run a macroblog and show us what blogging can become when it is focused and educational and moves beyond the social and self-indulgent (and believe me, I include myself!) and becomes a service to the community. AND it is a fun blog! (http://www.gardeninggonewild.com/  )

3) Ross achieves these qualities on his own and is my next choice. It’s good to know that one of the most worthwhile landscaping blogs I’ve found on the big wide web – hands-on, intelligent, a keen eye and a fine critic – belongs to a fellow South African. When I get to Durban I intend to meet up with Ross of Landscape Design. Meanwhile I find him at http://earthlandscapes.blogspot.com/

4) Charlotte, The Galloping Gardener, (http://thegallopinggardener.blogspot.com/  ) lives the voyeuristic life I would love to lead; not just in the UK, but across continents! Besides galloping, she also drums away at her keyboard and her camera shutter with more energy than is decent for one person – and along the way she promotes an international charity project!

5) Jean of Secrets of a Seed Scatterer (http://seedscatterer.blogspot.com/  ) first approached me with some cheeky no-nonsense advice about my masthead – so congratulate her if you like it! She seems to me the quintessential hands-on gardener. And I’ve just discovered that I’ve not yet faved her on http://www.blotanical.com ;( Better go fix that!

6) Tatyana of MySecretGarden (http://tanyasgarden.blogspot.com/  ) combines feminine warmth and beauty in equal measure and was one of the first to nurture and encourage me on Blotanical. In addition she knows her gardening and is a great photographer.

7) Rob Horace of Au coeur du jardin (http://ourfrenchgarden.blogspot.com/  ) seems to me to be on a somewhat similar mission to myself, loving to create beauty in a wonderful and slightly exotic setting. A visit to his blog puts anyone in a holiday mood, such is the romance of his piece of France…

And a bit about me:

1. I love the camera (and the blog) because it hides a multitude of gardening sins. Mostly I look at my garden and am overwhelmed by what needs to be done… When it looks good, I feel a charlatan for claiming it as MY garden, because it is nature that does most of the work. But then I believe that is the way a garden ought to develop anyway!

2. Besides nature, my staff must take much of the credit. I will be the first to admit that only in a third world country where labour is plentiful and therefore relatively inexpensive, can someone who is not seriously wealthy garden as I do. (In fact, because of the garden, I am seriously broke.)

3. One of my gardening gurus was Phineas Mogwale, foreman on the farm for nearly 25 years, who was steeped in the ways of gardening, who decided to push the lawns down to the water’s edge even as my dad was building his house, yet who if given the option would probably have grown vegetables and run cattle here rather than garden. RIP old man, and smile, I hope, on the gardens as they develop further.

4. My collection of gardening books, mostly bought second hand or on sale, covers almost 10m of bookshelf. Along the way I’ve also read almost everything about Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson, the creators of Sissinghurst, including their published letters and diaries. See my post at http://forums.mooseyscountrygarden.com/garden1877.html  for pictures I took at Long Barn, their first home and garden.

5. I was possibly the first person in South Africa to receive a company pension from a same-sex relationship. It is small, and has hardly increased in nearly16 years, but it still came as a huge surprise after Francois died of cancer. He was employed by the Performing Arts Council and they had negotiated groundbreaking conditions even before the New South Africa brought the most liberal and inclusive Constitution in the world.

6. I was allowed to move into the hospital and help nurse him during the last week of his life. That prepared me for nursing my mother who passed away last month. I have no doubt that when I come to take stock of my life, these two events will stand high on my list of positives.

7. A week before he died I dreamt one night in detail of the Rondel Garden, the first of the commemorative gardens on the farm, where his ashes are buried. A huge project, its 20m diameter circle has proved hopelessly too small in scale for the old fashioned roses I planted there, and it will be completely replanned during the following seasons. Sad, because we planned the planting together in hospital, poring over rose books.

8. More than a year later I spent 6 months in Europe in a campervan, mainly touring gardens in the UK and Scotland. I learnt a vast amount, took over 1500 slides (hey, that was a lot of expensive photography back then!) which I am currently scanning electronically (see point 4). I came back determined to (a) make gardening my career and (b) develop the gardens on Sequoia in a more structured way. I was aware that I must not plan to attempt too much. I have ignored my own advice and swing between joy and despair at the results.

9. It is now 11 years since I gave up life in Johannesburg to be permanently on Sequoia. Along the way I got side-tracked into 9 years of teaching English, 13 years after leaving school for good – or so I thought. In 2001 I was a charter member of the Haenertsburg Rotary Club, of which I am president this year. These two activities have brought me a rich and rewarding involvement in the community, but have not always benefited my garden. However recently a car-load of 20-somethings stopped by: an ex-pupil wanting to show his friends where they had come on class picnics during his schooldays.

10. There are more commemorative gardens coming: my own 50th (3 years overdue by now), as well as those for my brother (1 year) and my sister (coming up). Also there is a garden for my mother and my partner’s mother in the pipeline. Louis has put up with me patiently for 14 years. In fact he has been a saint, and it is only during the past 18 months that I have come to fully appreciate his loyalty and his love. Our separate lives move ever closer together…

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7 thoughts on “AHA! AN AWARD!

  1. Hey, do share with us what Jean said about your masthead. Most of us are on a learning curve here. (with Blogger’s new ^&%^& post editor). Francois’ rondel growing, is not sad. Think how he would enjoy choosing the extra roses with you. As someone said – a garden that is finished, is dead. Going to follow up your links, and will link to you tomorrow, since we overlapped.

  2. Jack, it is always fascinating to read about the people behind the blogs. I too helped nurse someone through cancer (my mother). Even though it is s hard time, it brings you closer together, every moment is precious.
    I look forward to seeing your plans for your new commemorative gardens.
    Deborah

  3. Jack, congratulations on being honestly scrapped! I am glad that you joined Blotanical and I have a chance to see a beautiful piece of the earth which I would never see without your blog. I always wanted to know more about you. Thanks for sharing with us! Your idea of creating commemorative gardens is very special. 10m of bookshelf – very impressive! Also, thank you for awarding me. All the best to you!
    Tatyana

  4. It took 5 women and a Hospice nurse to tend to my Dad when he was terminally ill with cancer. Daddy had many things which needed to be done. My job was to do his manicures, discuss gardening and garden related subjects, and watch sporting events with him. My sister’s job was to listen to his tales about his life and his family, and she knows a lot of the secrets. To each of us, he gave a job, and it seems now that it was exactly what each of us needed to get through this experience.

    I loved your post. You are a very interesting person.

  5. I love your posts, so this one is particularly good, to learn more about the gardener behind the camera. The 10 m of books is funny. And hats off to you for making your commemorative gardens. You are a heart man with lots of love to give to others. I am so glad Louis is there for you.

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