A thing of beauty

A thing of beauty, January 1925

{This article appeared in January 1925 in The Star, a Johannesburg newspaper}

With no knowledge of gardening, she took the dreary plot in hand, employed convict labour for half a day to break up and remove some of the ouklip with picks; imported a cartload of municipal manure to build up beds; and began to garden.

Presently she persuaded the school authorities to lay on water, and having begged discarded pieces of hosepipe from various friends and joined them together, had a length of [illegible] feet with which she could reach most of the ground.

Last year she grew the most wonderful asters. At present she has in flower, in addition to those mentioned at the beginning, roses, Michaelmas daisies, gaillardias, snapdragons, hollyhocks, salvias, verbena, phlox, and yellow broom. And in a well-seeded portion which she calls her "no man's land" there is a luxurious tangle, around the lilies, of blue cornflowers, scabious and larkspurs, all vying with one another to reward this patient tiller in unlikely places.

A grape vine in one corner and a fig tree are doing their best to screen the ugliness, while virginia creeper gallantly tries to scale the corrugated iron wall, at the foot of which a row of violets look very tired, but still exist.

On the stoep [veranda] when I visited the cookery centre were tins of seedlings; and in the hall, where lessons were going on, a jug of larkspurs, carnations and a great bowl of white sweet peas helped to make one forget the heat and almost forget the numerous flies which swarmed on to any dish or food material that was left uncovered for a moment.

As the gardener does not live near, all cultivation must be done either before 9 a.m. or after school, in the hottest part of the day, which makes the effort more wonderful. It is pleasant to record that though left unprotected, no plants or flowers have ever been stolen.

A young jacaranda tree has just been planted which will eventually give shade and show its lovely mist of purple blue to each pilgrim along that dreary road. By that time the garden maker may have returned to that overseas country from which she came, but the garden, the flowers and trees will still remain to be her friendly monument and tell of love's unselfish labour in the past. [How lovely!]

BALBUS [The Star's regular garden contributor during this era, Pauline Bankes]