A thing of beauty

A thing of beauty, January 1925

‘Beauty in an iron frame. Miss Barnes and her roadside garden at Boksburg. The photograph shows the wonderful display of asters which she obtained last month. Virginia creeper is now making its way up the corrugated iron, and will soon form a green background.’

{This article appeared in January 1925 in The Star, a Johannesburg newspaper, in the curious style of journalism then: written under pseudonym about an unnamed gardener.}


In that bunch that attracted the attention of every passerby there were all the old-fashioned flowers; many in their new hybrid forms. Sweet peas, white and scarlet, that had in them the very breath of summer; columbines, roses and pansies; clove-scented carnations with the proper scent of long ago; larkspurs of deep purple, light blue, pink or mauve - and the flowers came from a little wayside bit in one of Benoni's dusty streets where only the most vivid optimist would think of making a garden.

The ground, which runs along two sides of the wood and iron shanty that is used as a cookery centre, had lain unutilised for 20 years. Exposed to the sun and receiving the reflected heat from the iron boundaries on every side, it was nothing but a hard-baked surface of soil over ouklip ['old stone'; my parents' soil also contain ouklip].

Three years ago there arrived a cookery mistress who hated ugliness of every sort and, condemned to live in a flat [apartment] for the first time, yearned for flowers and a garden. >>