Monday, 21 October 2013

Cosmos – the flowers not the universe

Shades of my mother today: I went into the garden, picked some flowers and arranged them in a vase. Arranged is probably an exaggeration – my mother arranged flowers, I rather plonk them in. Gardening is not my thing but thanks to Number One Husband (NOH) there are some dahlias to pick and it seems a pity not to enjoy them in the house.

If you can get over the hump that this was during the 1950s in Johannesburg, South Africa, perhaps just take this at face value without the political connotations. My mother had three acres of garden to choose from and three gardeners to do all the work. The garden was a blaze of colour most of the year, even in winter when the grass went yellow and stayed yellow until the spring rains. I was very surprised when I arrived in London in the mid-sixties to see how green everything was. Of course once I thought about it and experienced the rain I realised why – it was just that winter was synonymous with yellow grass.

So walking into the garden with a pair of scissors brought back all sorts of memories. These were reinforced by the presence of pink and white Cosmos planted by NOH. When my father drove the 1,000 miles home from Muizenberg in the Cape at the end of the summer holidays the Highveld would be covered with these flowers – the pink and white carpet told me we were not that far from home and also signified the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. According to wiki Cosmos are native to Mexico and were introduced to South Africa via contaminated horse feed imported from Mexico during the Boer War!

The train of thought continues with the fact that my paternal grandfather, then a recent immigrant to Johannesburg from the Baltic States, fought in the Boer War (1899 – 1902) against the British.  He died before my parents married but my father told me he lost the use of an arm in the conflict ...... and here am I soon to go to Buckingham Palace to receive my OBE. I am relieved I didn’t have to go to war to prove my loyalty to my adopted country!

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