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Pops of joy

Pink Dalea by Leanne Talbot Nowell

“Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade.”
― Rudyard Kipling,

I have spend many years, a small fortune and vast amount of energy on not-quite mastering the art of keeping plants alive in pots on my terrace. Often I feel more like an undertaker than a gardener – so many plants had to be carried down the stairs in a black bag. In the enthusiastic spring I usually spend a glorious day at the garden shop and come home loaded with demanding plants who are entirely at my mercy. Then we bugger off somewhere for the summer holidays and Immaculata takes over as Angel of God.

There is very little help from God when you live in a pot. The Angel who owns you has all the power. With power comes responsibility. Something the leaders in the world are being tested for at the moment. On the last day before lockdown I bought a bottle of number one. It’s plant food that smells like garum. It seems to do miracles and the plants are bursting their pots. Weeds are proliferating too, and I’ve changed my regulations and have allowed them to take root and grow. We must admire their tenacity, as that of all migrants. They cover the barren soil with lushesnous.

Immaculata brought me this Dalia in a small tight pot. The flowers are a buzzy whorl of petals which attract a white butterfly called Melanargia arge. I painted it (suggestively) for Kevin and Stella Cockburn. They are doing good work for their people in South Africa. In fact many of you are doing good work and being so generous.

As are our children and their partners (who we consider our children too). They are the flowers – pops of joy – in our soul gardens. Precious, shining, hope. This painting began as a portrait of them, and over the day of penciling then rubbing out, this is the result. A bouquet. Obviously my brain is in need of a dose of number one before attempting a proper family portrait.

Painting is like making a garden, it’s not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade.