Sun- hungry, Magnolia Little Gem

If I have learnt anything it is this: nothing remains the same.

My garden is changing its face all the time. Plants grow and encroach on their neighbours, while others begin by thriving only to fail and die. Burgeoning growth changes micro climates, in turn changing aspects and conditions for plants. It’s a constantly shifting plantscape.

During a big pruning session this week, I discovered my New South Wales Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum), had become a dead twig. I was disappointed. I planted it to honour a long-standing, Christmas tradition. Each year, my friend’s Christmas bush would be a vision in red, bending at the stems under the weight of blossoms.  Actually it’s the calyxes or cup-shaped sepals of this gorgeous plant that give it the red flush, beginning as pale cream buds to eventually turn shades of white, pink or red – the latter being my favourite for Christmas time. The flowers tucked within are almost inconsequential, being tiny and of a pale yellow colour.  My friend  generously shared bunches of this festive bush with me every year to decorate the house for Christmas.

The years moved on and so did we, each changing our place of residence. Hoping to return her favour of many years, I planted a Christmas Bush in my new garden. I envisioned handing over big bunches of gorgeous red Christmas cheer to fill all available jugs and vases, as she had for me. The aspect for planting in my courtyard was ideal – plenty of sun – and I was determined to give it every opportunity to thrive, which it did … for a time.

As my garden grew, the Christmas Bush became overshadowed by other sun-hungry plants and subsequently became hidden from my view. Sadly, I discovered too late, that its needs were not being met.

IMG_2627 (1)

Sun-hungry gingers and heliconias

I felt sad for the loss of a plant but more for the loss of an idea, a tradition which had meant so much. It represented an ideal for me, one of sharing one’s bounty in the ‘giving’ season, of a common appreciation of gardening, and of our friendship.

And then I thought  about the nature of change. Was I trying to re-capture something that had had its time? Our circumstances had changed. Those lives and those gardens were no longer ours. That particular tradition was lost- it had become a dead twig, a fond but distant memory, having also run its course. We are still dear friends but different people now.

I realised something I’ve always known: railing against change is as quixotic as jousting with windmills, as futile as trying to hold back the tide.


A sea-wall attempt to hold back the tide.

Wishing for the past has no hope of restoring it. I know the past I imagine is not real, it  probably did not happen quite the way I choose to remember it. That’s the imperfect nature of humans and selective memory.

Change is healthy as well as inevitable; as essential in my outer landscape as my inner one.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

17 responses to “Change

  1. Once again – beautiful, Robyn! I’ll keep your words in mind when I’m being a little too wistful about life on the Gold Coast. I am here!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gardens are great signallers of change. Earlier this evening I was outside admiring a blue sky spotted with little white clouds when I noticed that the holly berries were turning red. That seems early – are we in for an early winter? I wondered.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The seasons are subject to change too. The Autumn I remember started earlier and was cooler. Not so in this post climate change world. Science says it’s about trends rather than individual years. But my plants are confused this year. I have an orchid that forgot it had already flowered and is busy sending up a second flush of spikes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a timely tale for me, reinforcing a message from me to me. Thank you: I’m getting used to some massive changes myself this year. (By the way, your photo of the magnolia Little Gem brings out the grandmother in me.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad the post resonated with you Rachel. Getting old seems to be about accelerated change for me but with a greater capacity for a slower approach on my part. A more contemplative one I think. I sense a story behind Little Gem and the grandmother connection?


  4. your writing always touches me and your use of nature and real life is wonderful! Losing the plant was sad but represented change and the cycle of life or at least that is how it felt for me. Always beautiful Robyn and thoughtful!

    Liked by 1 person

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