Under The Mango Tree……My Happy Place
In times of stress, or when I crave a peaceful place to relax and think, I sit under the mango tree. Here I can enjoy the result of hard work in achieving a beautiful garden. I had never considered myself a creative person, but now I acknowledge that I am. I have published two books, and boy, did they take some creating! Writing is certainly a passion, along with gardening.
My sister, a true creative, is an artist and horticulturist who can turn anything into a piece of art, from barbed wired, foam blocks, old teacups, music scripts, she has a vision and imagination beyond my comprehension. Her gardens have been, and still are, magnificent. However, my love of gardening originated from the age of five when I was on a family holiday in St Kilda Melbourne, staying in a hotel by the beach. The Majestic hotel was well named, it was a beautiful, old fashioned establishment. My favourite place, after the beach, was the conservatorium. The large, glass domed courtyard was filled with an amazing array of many varieties of ferns and other indoor plants along with a diverse selection of succulents. An older man tended the plants daily. I befriended him and he eagerly shared his knowledge about his specimens. I never knew if he was employed or possibly a resident. I was only five years of age.
When the time came for me to return home with my family, I was loaded up with a selection of cuttings of succulents to take home. I couldn’t wait to begin my own garden.
My mother was a keen gardener having been brough up in the lush and beautiful Blue Mountains in NSW. Our home was in the often drought affected Riverina where succulents would thrive.
In between school hours, I proceeded to set up planks along the front of our house, then collected empty tins, old boots, any empty utensil I could find that would house my precious plants. My poor mother offered me a plot in the garden to plant strawberries, which I accepted, but I wasn’t to be swayed away from my ugly collection in the front garden. My cuttings began to sprout and my obsession with these plants lasted until I went to boarding school. The ugly landscaping understandably, disappeared and my gardening pastime ceased until I was married many years later.
I have sat under many mango trees in my lifetime, their thick canopy and solid shade have always been a welcome respite from the heat, allowing a time to contemplate, rest and admire a days work in the garden. The bonus of this magnificent ‘Mangifera indica’ is the delicious fruit it produces. It’s known as the ‘king of fruits’ and I have to personally agree with that label. The trees in my garden at ‘McAllister’ in the Gulf country (see my book ‘Back of Beyond’ www.jennyold.com) were prolific with delicious, juicy fruit. Our boys had to be limited in the number eaten in one day as they developed rashes on their face. We even had a horse we called ‘Mango’ who would stand at the garden fence and be fed the fruit, carefully sucking the flesh then finally spitting out a polished seed!
I’m lucky to have a prolific vegetable garden and a husband who can build anything. He has created the large planter boxes and netting covers as protection from the local fauna who would love to devour my delicious, sweet baby carrots, or juicy lettuce and tomatoes before we do.
The splendid specimen in our current garden has inspired me to write my third book. ‘Under the Mango Tree’ which seems an appropriate title. Sitting under this tree is where I find my happy place, it’s calm and peaceful with a vista over the lush green lawn leading to colourful plants, fruit trees dripping with flowers, exuding the sweet perfume of citrus and the promise of the fruit to come. I love to watch the busy native bees buzzing about their work of pollination. It is here I can re-group, take deep breaths and move on to the next task at hand.
I give thanks and gratitude to my ever- patient mother, allowing me to deface her front garden for many years with my ugly assortment of tins, boots and buckets full of succulents, which were far from her favourite plant! Thankfully my strawberry patch thrived and delivered.
My sister always inspires and encourages me. My love of gardening has carried me through tough times and it always will. I rarely follow a plan, it just evolves and that’s why I love it.
As I contemplate my next book, I know I’ll have inspiration as I sit ‘Under the Mango Tree’ with my cup of tea.
Until next time, take care, stay safe and my thoughts especially go out to all living in Victoria.
‘Innocent Nurses Abroad’
‘Back of Beyond’