GOOD SENSE OF GAR­DENS

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

The senses are what a plant, gar­den or panoramic land­scape is all about. We smell, touch, see and hear it (have you ever lis­tened to bam­boo creak­ing like the rig­ging of an old sail­ing ship or the gen­tle breeze over plumes of grass/flow­ers?).

He­len Keller learned how to ex­tend her sense of feel­ing at the loss of her sight and hear­ing when she was two.

They say the re­main­ing senses reach a more acute re­sponse at the loss of oth­ers. But He­len had a few helpers who wrote or spelt words on her hand and helped her learn to com­mu­ni­cate with braille.

There is a ter­rific photo of He­len ‘feel­ing’ roses with the help of her life­time friend, Ann Sul­li­van, who had also been blind but even­tu­ally re­gained her sight.

Can you imag­ine find­ing your way around a gar­den with no sight?

There’s a story that He­len Keller thought a cac­tus was the most vi­o­lent of plants.

Sen­sory gar­dens have been around for a long time. The Moors were ex­cel­lent cit­rus grow­ers and (again) the story goes that many of them who were gar­den­ers could tell who had been in which grove, sim­ply by the smell of their clothes.

To have never seen a plant but be able to describe it would be an am amaz­ingg thing.

John Wilkin­son was a gro­cer, who lost his sight at age 22. He went on to be­come a fa­mous botanist.

He sim­ply licked the edges of the plant’s leaf to get a start on the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. No doubt he had the odd sur­prise or two – the sur­prise of feel­ing the sand­pa­per-like leaf of a pur­ple wreath vine (Pe­trea vol­u­bilis, more com­monly called trop­i­cal wis­te­ria) or the soft downy leaves of some of the cos­tus species that feel like your best pet are some in­ter­est­ing gar­den ex­pe­ri­ences.

Grab­bing a thorny eu­phor­bia or a bougainvil­lea is pre­dictable. But oth­ers, like the Cala­mus palms (wait-a-while) can hook you up quite se­ri­ously if you get caught ad­mir­ing their fo­liage too closely.

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