Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

I’m a big fat liar

I should be running through the house with my pants on fire*.

My lovely niece wrote to me several days ago about the small garden at the back of her house in England.

“We have had great success with our garden tomato plant (apart from some snail issues) but I worry that it might not enjoy the change in temperature. It sounds like your lovely garden is flourishing slowly but surely. You’re a lot more patient that I am…”

Patient? Oh what tangled webs we weave…!

The musings on this blog might appear calm but they’re preceded by days of rage and wailing, hours of complaints and misery, belligerent ill temper and petulant self-pity. I want results! I want action! Grow, damn you, why won’t you GROW?

The climbing hydrangea has lived up to its promise to sleep, creep, leap. One year on, it's still sleeping.

The climbing hydrangea has lived up to its promise to sleep, creep, leap. One year on, it’s still sleeping.

I am just a big fat liar if this blog gives the impression of patience.

This has been a week of disappointment and fury that birds have eaten the rocket, strawberries are never going to flourish in that ridiculously expensive, ill-conceived ceramic pot – no matter how many times I feed the soil that dribbles out every time it’s watered – the tomato plant is all leaf and no flower and whoever planted camellias in the front garden was a fool. That was a stupid place to plant them, they will never flourish there so we should just rip them out and start again.

My default reaction has often been to rip something out and start again – from moving house, changing jobs or giving up on relationships, which could explain why I’ve lived in 35 different houses, taken on as many jobs and…well, let’s not count the number of broken hearts, mine or other peoples. Patient? I don’t think so.

Then Friday rolls around and I’m forced look at this garden and consider it anew.

The David Austin heritage rose will burst into bloom one day soon

The David Austin heritage rose will soon burst into bloom

Is it really so bad? The climbing rose is flourishing and this week I realised the camellia has, astonishingly, put on new growth. The new leaves are shiny and bright green, not sickly and mottled brown like last year. I thought it had been suffering from too much direct sunlight – stupid place to plant a camellia – but the improvement in its appearance belies that. Maybe it was the food I sprinkled a couple of months ago, or the liquid sulphur that changed the pH of the soil to make it more suitable for blueberries, or maybe it was a more regular watering regime. Who knows? Whatever it was, something must have worked because the camellias are starting to look healthy.

I did the work I just wasn’t willing to wait for the results.

I wrote this post sitting in my little back office, and as I sat there I looked out of the window at a small speck of spider. Day by day for the past week that spider has been weaving a web, stretched between the peace rose and the lemon tree. It’s been an industrious worker, scrabbling fine lines that unfurl as it teases out a pattern of delicate thread.

This morning that spider was still, quietly poised in the middle of its finished web, where it was shaded from the hot sun by the leaves of the lemon tree. Its job was done and it was waiting. Patiently waiting.

There’s a lesson for me in that spider’s stillness. No matter how much energy and effort I put into gardening, or writing, or anything else for that matter, there comes a time when all I can do – all I should do – is sit, watch and wait.

But I’d be a big fat liar if I said that was easy!

Paper daisies all the way from Langawirra Station, courtesy of Lynne and John Gall

Paper daisies in my office, all the way from Langawirra Station and courtesy of Lynne and John Gall

*Liar, Liar, Pants on fire!  Does anyone else remember that chant from childhood?


12 comments on “I’m a big fat liar

  1. Maggie Wilson
    October 10, 2014

    I’m often surprised by comments that remark upon a certain aspect of my personality. Really? You get that from what I said? Huh. Especially about how busy I am. I am not busy. I wish I was busier, actually. Or more precisely, differently occupied.

    I appreciate what you have written here, about impatience and your default reaction to rip something out and start again. I thought 17 was a large number of moves. You’ve doubled that.

    But here’s what I truly needed to hear today:

    “…there comes a time when all I can do – all I should do – is sit, watch and wait.”

    Thank you.


    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      October 11, 2014

      Hi Maggie, I would sometimes like to erase my past but it made me who I am. I’m glad my post hit a chord for you. I love this community of bloggers that helps us all see more clearly and find our way with a little less anxiety. I’m intrigued by you wanting to be ‘differently occupied’. What would you do I wonder? I love reading about your crystals and minerals and your quirky view on the world.


      • Maggie Wilson
        October 11, 2014

        I take lots of comfort in accepting those moves and realizing that it was the route I needed to take to get from A to B … each step of the route was a “teaching moment” and clearly a step I needed to take.

        But. (There’s always a but, isn’t there?) I guess I still harbour some uncertainty and look at others and judge and compare… and we all know THAT is a mistake, right?

        “Judge not, compare not, let go the need to understand.”

        My gripe these days about wanting to be differently occupied is related to my school work in mining engineering. It’s been a long hard slog and the education “industry” has created a very slip-shod program. They don’t deliver education the way they used to “in my day.”

        I’m getting to be an old fart.


      • debhuntinbrokenhill
        October 12, 2014

        What I’m hoping is that us old farts will be around a lot longer than anyone expects us to be! And thank you for introducing me to that wonderful blog from the Forest of Dean, it’s absolutely captivating.

        Best wishes to you

        Deb +61 (0)450 169697


  2. The Novice Gardener
    October 10, 2014

    35 different houses?! Wow, that’s a lot of moving!!


    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      October 11, 2014

      I know, it’s hard to believe isn’t it? It took me until I was fifty to stop that restless craving to move, and I still have to guard against it even now!


  3. nantubre
    October 10, 2014

    Love the spider web analogy. I too have a spider web that I have been watching for a long time, only it’s in my bathroom near the ceiling – a true tribute to my lack of finely tuned house-keeping skill. Yes, it’s been there for longer than I will say out loud. I keep thinking the little mite will pack up and move. It’s been through two housekeepers (a small luxury I afforded myself on two occasions).
    As for the spiders in my garden, here we have what is called banana spiders, dang near as big as a banana and just as yellow. Lovely really. Not my cup of tea. They should move too.


    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      October 11, 2014

      Nan you make me laugh! I delight in the fact that my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, there must be heaps of cobwebs on the ceiling but they’re too far away for me to see, and Clyde’s eyesight is even worse so he’s never going to notice them. Hope the spiders in your garden up sticks and move on, they might need a bit of help!


  4. bkpyett
    October 10, 2014

    Enjoyed your post Deb. Yes, waiting can be such a frustration. When we came here to this garden we ripped out 22 conifers, and multiple palm trees so that I could plant things I liked. It is 8 years now and only just beginning to show some growth in the trees. I feel for you, as I know that frustration and impatience well. 🙂 ❤


    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      October 11, 2014

      Thanks Barbara. I admire you for planting trees (and for ripping out those conifers!). Planting trees that take so long to grow is a way of admitting that even though we might not be here to see them mature, it’s still worth planting them because someone else – or even simply the planet – will benefit from their growth in future.


  5. Eliza Waters
    October 11, 2014

    Honest post! Yes, we demand such perfection and impatient to get it! 35 houses, really? Ouch. I dislike moving VERY much.
    Camellias like slightly acidic soil (6.0 – 6.5), so perhaps that was the shot they needed.
    Those daisies are lovely – are they everlasting? They look like they are of the strawflower family.


    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      October 11, 2014

      Thanks Eliza, I still struggle to accept my limitations sometimes, and I’m so much happier when I can! I think you’re right about the camellias, all they needed was the right conditions. We all flourish when we find those. And yes, the daisies are everlasting, they were tightly closed buds when I opened the packet (it was sent via regular post, such a lovely surprise to find flowers inside!) and they opened very quickly when I put them in water.


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This entry was posted on October 10, 2014 by and tagged , , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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