A Garden Game


Have you ever been troubled by an attack of the blues? It happened to me one day. Nothing grabbed my interest. I felt thoroughly dispirited. Wandering aimlessly from room to room, I finally ended up at the kitchen window, only to be confronted by the dismal gap left by the old gum that toppled in the last violent storm. All that remained, once the débris had been carted away, was the stump, blackened in some long ago bush fire. Not a happy sight. A black balloon of despair began to form in my mind.

And that’s when it happened! The black balloon burst, showering me with sparks of creativity, firing the imagination. Helter-skelter I flew into the garden. Excitedly, I collected the tools I required. I was beginning to work on a vestige of an idea that was firing my enthusiasm. I determined to turn this unsightly gap into a focal point of beauty.

The stump must have been rotten because I soon discovered that, with a little work, a central depression could be hollowed out affording sufficient room, hopefully, to make a planting. Something that would scramble over the rim of the stump, a plant with showy blooms. A background was needed. When the old tree fell, a fence was damaged, but a post remained. Unsightly, but well positioned for my purpose to support a rambling bougainvillea or a rambling rose.

Any planting, to be successful, pleasing to the eye, needs diverse colour, texture and shape. The stump, I decided, was the centre piece. The background was catered for, I now had to work on plant ideas for the sides and foreground.

Now I was on a roll. Having fun? You bet! Possibilities were sprouting everywhere. I’d search the rest of the garden for possible transplanting material, for available pot plants. I soon found a suitable clump of native grass with stiff spear shaped leaves, that I set about digging out to transplant to the side of the stump. Next I found a cordyline I had potted up a couple of years back. Perfect in height and leaf shape to counter balance the native grass. I collected some potted plants and positioned them in the foreground to give me an idea of the general effect.

I was encouraged. Cuppa time!

From the kitchen window, I saw that my focal point was emerging surprisingly well. As I drank my coffee, I reached for the local paper and scanned the adds. Plant sales, garage sales, local markets would all prove happy hunting grounds. A sale of plant pots sounded interesting. I had stumbled upon a pastime that attracted my interest, creativity, ingenuity and aesthetic sense. The avenues to be explored began to open up. Patios, with ornamental focus points enhanced by plants set in interesting containers. Hanging baskets, splashed with colour and trailing foliage, softening the harsh lines of the new shed. Spring bulbs tiered, to grace a rocky slope, or to be sprinkled beneath a willow, or weeping callistemon…if you live in Australia as I do.

Time has passed. My focal point has fulfilled its purpose and become a favorite spot in my garden. I had so much fun doing this. Gardening became a Garden Game.


– Sylvia Roff-Marsh

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