MAGIC ON A BUDGET
Irecall some time ago not wanting to do much for Christmas. A few friends rang and asked what I was doing, and I replied that I was already booked.
Then I got a call from the famous Betty Gibson, who was a neighbour, and she asked the same. In her matter-of-fact way, she said she was also keen on something low key. “Let’s have a baked bean sandwich and a beer,” she said.
As it turned out, it was a tender piece of silverside on a sandwich. She was what I would call one of our great horticulturists and gardeners. So we sat on her shady verandah and talked about Christmas memories in a garden, mostly as a kid.
Stretching the Christmas budget, her mum would give she and her brothers a list of things required for Yuletide decorations and preparing the garden for guests. Her job was mostly ribbons – the same recycled shiny green and red ribbons tied among the foliage of a scattered garden.
She was in charge of a diminishing number of glass baubles that had been handed down from her grandmother. Many were mere tinklings at the bottom of the box. But up they went into the bottlebrush tree.
“If were having a tree it has to be Australian,” her mother would say.
Her brothers were given the task some weeks before to grow Christmas flowers and make a number of white petunia pots – some others with red and some in picotee, of both red and white. These were from seed and this took at least six weeks to prepare. Now, the same can be done in a couple of hours with a full-flowering pot in a container and presto.
There were always a good number of pots of flowers as each packet of miniscule seeds must have contained thousands. The extras were planted on the outside of garden beds.
She would line up the gardenias that were often in flower – about six or eight pots at a time in a bunch and place them somewhere she knew would catch the light of the moon. They would have numerous bowls of frangipani flowers for perfume. Cotton wool was placed between the rocks as snow and flowing over a few shrubs.
Whether it’s a feast or a tin of beans, however you do your Christmas we wish you a gardeners’ Christmas that is pretty, richly green, perfumed and brings you great joy.