Christmas crack up


I have to confess that I am not a Christmas person. My family did it but not in a big way, but secretly my mother didn’t like it. I’ve inherited this attitude but I’m not so secret about it.

Imagine my surprise to find my self assiduously cutting out paper snowflakes in white, green blue over the last week, and giving up my precious lunch hours to hang them at work. Here’s a snap of our first efforts.


What has surprised me about this process is how, just like in nature, no two snowflakes turned out the same. I always remember a line from Louise Hay about how many different ways there were to do the dishes. Well, cutting out snowflakes is a much more pleasurable version of the same exercise.

I’m still not much into Christmas. I hate the stress of the shopping, the crassness of the buy buy buy, the drama of handling multiple families, the endless Christmas carols. The airport crush. Hot dinners in a heat wave. I could go on. But the snowflakes are lovely. A little oasis of creative calm that was much needed after the crap end to my year.

From paper snowflakes to roses…there are predictably enough a lot of roses with snowflake in their title. lists ten, beginning with a tea rose by Lambert from 1886. I have never grown a rosé with snow in the title. The two closest to the cold theme are the ubiquitous Iceberg in Mum’s garden, and more recently Icegirl in my own. She has not taken kindly to being transplanted, and has sulked mightily here in Watson. The intensity of her scent makes me lenient but if she doesn’t buck up after all the rain, I may reconsider.

Power and the Cardinal

Cardinal de Richlieu  (Source:the author)

Cardinal de Richlieu (Source:the author)

This eye-popping rose is called Cardinal de Richlieu, released in 1847. I’ve chosen this rose as an entree to think about power, because it’s namesake was one of the most powerful man in the whole of French history.

He was born 1585, to a minor aristocratic family, and died in 1642. In between became what we would now call the prime minister and was second only to the king in terms of power. He received both military and theological training as part of his education, and was ordained a bishop at twenty one.

It was through the patronage of Marie de Medici that he secured his entrée into the echelons of power. He was reknown for his ruthless crushing of rebellions, for example the death of 20 000 Hugenots, and for his intense ambition. By many accounts he was someone that you loved or hated.

It is hard to match such a beautiful flower to such a man. The loveliness of it slatey purple petals is in many ways unsurpassed. He is a perfect example of what Starhawk called ‘Power over’ in an early book called Dreaming the Dark. He was characteristic of his times, which did not value independence, free thinking, or creativity.

Few of us will ever wield a fraction of the power Cartnal had. Most of us find ourselves enmeshed in systems of power that Are not of our own making. Rules and regulations govern nearly every aspect of our lives. Some of them are good, there to protect us, such as food safety standards. Others are needlessly draconian, such as the power of the ACT government to cancel my driving license if I forget to pay a parking fine.

We really only have complete power over one thing. Our minds. I baulk at this. I baulk like an angry toddler. But I suspect that it’s true. However difficult or seemingly impossible it feels to me, what I think is the only power that I really have.

Bedraggled roses of Watson


We had an amazing week of late afternoon storms, culminating in a full day of rain yesterday.  Personally I love rain.  Given how harsh the Australian climate can be, I’m often amazed when people whinge about rain.  So much better to have it than not, and i love going out for walks in it. Yesterday afternoon I took the opportunity of going for a very long walk around Watson. I was the only person who was outside.  From what I could tell everyone was glued to the TV set.  The temperature was perfect, the rain gentle and the earth smelt fresh.  I’m pretty sure that I got the better end of the deal.

That said, I must acknowledge that the sheer quantity of rain we’ve had was not good for flowers.  Beginning in my own garden, Francis Phoebe bravely opened.

(Source: the author)

(Source: the author)

I instantly decided to plant her upon our first meeting. In my garden she’s much whiter then she is at old Parliament house. At my local nursery, where I had gone to buy lettuce seedlings, i met Julia’s Rose and Red Riding Hood. Julia had stood up to the rain quite well, but I was less convinced on RRH.

(source:the author)

(source:the author)

(Source: the author)

(Source: the author)

There were very few roses that have managed to keep their blooms in the rain. I was only able to photograph two. The first was this very robust hybrid tea with soft apricot to buff coloured blooms.

Id needed

There was also this rather charming strong pink Floribunda. I know that technically you’re supposed to call them cluster flowered roses these days, but I think I still prefer the term Floribunda.

ID needed

I didn’t go to Old Parliament house this weekend. Instead I’ve been knee deep in journal articles about diet plans for diabetes. It’s not easy or uplifting reading at all. The roses make it all so much easier to tolerate.