Growth in Drought Conditions

Monday, 16 February 2009

I have had a leave of absence for the past three semesters from uni. I figured art therapy and uni were too much to do at that point in time - my doing-things threshold was pretty low. Problem is, it will be time to pick my degree up again in July and ... well, I can't say I'm all that enthused about it, to be honest. Which is patently silly and pointless thinking, because I have 1/4 of my degree to go, and I have done 18 subjects over 400,000 years, and to throw it in now would be something I would suspect borders the realms of stupid self-sabotage. It would defy logic.

Well, except for the logic that I really don't like my university - their motives are clear, their love for the bottom line and for equipping their students to go out and earn as much cash as possible blatant and frankly it just makes me feel old and idealistic and stupid to think that universities should be something devoted to higher learning as opposed to churning out cookie-cutter job marketeers. But what place idealism in these times except for around the fringes? I wish I had been around in the heady days of Gough Whitlamia when university education was free and the Arts revered.

I am tempted to let my degree lapse, to apply next year to Deakin, the university at which I began my degree. Deakin offers philosophy subjects; I have in fact already completed two of them. They also offer offline studying options which are also appealing.

Maybe it's good that universities are economically rationalised to within an inch of their lives. Herds the money-focussed elements into one large pen while the people on the outskirts can ply their wares and knowledge and practice with each other in peace. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of people out there who are generous with their time and knowledge when it comes to sharing their passions. I saw it yesterday in the chat I had with the man who designed the sensory garden at the Royal Talbot Hospital. I was there on an artist date of sorts, garnering ideas for this art space that has impaled itself in my head. He was happy to talk, to share his knowledge, for me to take photos. When people are passionate about what they do, what they know, what they have learnt, they pass it on. It is viral.

This man commented on how wonderful gardening is in its communality, the learning and sharing that is passed on from one person to another. My landlord was here the other day and we sat outside and chatted - he is always up for a philosophical discussion, teasing the complexity. Those sorts of people are rather thin on the ground so you take them when you can find them :) He inspected my tomato plant, it's tiny little fruits growing and ripening, and suggested that tomatoes need much more space to grow than my container can afford. I have this knowledge now, in my brain. Such a tiny small thing, but so much better to have gained it from someone who learnt it himself, than from a book, much as I voraciously love those.

I think that small pieces of learning coming virally from the mouths of others, the teaching that happens organically when people hang together, is much more richer and vibrant than the teaching that comes out of the academy. Instead of desks and curriculum and external assessment, there is interaction between human beings, rich, humous, adapted to its environment.

I wonder at how the Greek academy would spin in its grave at the paltry descendant that bleats tiredly these days in the West.

I am developing a slowly growing fondness and appreciation for succulents. The white one above, especially. Cotyledon orbiculata, 'silver waves'. My English blood yearns for green hills and lush foliage, especially when we are on fire, but there is a more subtle charm in the succulents that filled this garden yesterday, such variety of foliage and colour, all surviving in drought conditions.


  1. I love succulents Sue.

    This is one of my favorites. This website is really cool also. Tony's description of his plants can be pretty funny also.

    Hey, if you lived around here we could start up a community garden. I bet we could get Manuela to come join us also. I know of many people that would jopin in.

  2. That link didn't work. Hopefully it did in your email notice.

  3. That is beautiful. I love how the spikes turn cinnamon when they're mature :)

    You wouldn't plant it near where the kiddies play football, would ya? Imagine falling into that :)

    Community garden, that would be wonderful! I would love that. I was actually thinking of something in those terms, tying it in with my artspace idea also. I want to look around here and see what there is around here. Do you have any community gardens near you?

  4. I grow that plant for a few years in a pot before it rotted out and those spikes are wicked.

    We do have community gardens. When we lived in the city I walked through the community gardens on a regular basis.

    Our neighborhood is like a community garden in a sense. We all are out all the time in each others gardens. My mom lives across the street from us and we do a veg. garden together in her back yard. All the cuccumbers last year made for some wonderful quick pickles. Lurvely. Add those to the home grown tomatoes and I am in "Good Eats" heaven.

  5. So that seems to be the biggest problem with succulents - that they rot.

    My mum has always grown a lot of succulents and I haven't been all that partial to them - but the ones I saw yesterday, some of them were really quite beautiful in their weird spikey way :)

    Ahh, home grown tomatoes. I didn't know your mammy lives across the street. That's so cool that you do a veg garden together. What a cool idea.

    And yeah, cucumber is pretty pointless unless it's pickled :) I saw picked cauliflower yesteday in my supermarket. There's a lot of weird and wonderful stuff there, as they cater to Greek and Middle Eastern populations. Picked cauliflower. Might have to try it.

    My veggie garden is on hold until (a) I get more funds and (b) the weather stops being insane. My kale didn't survive the heat. I did, however, bring the tomato plant inside into the air conditioning. Don't tell anyone ;) I felt like a right twit

  6. It's nice having her right arcoss the street. And my brother and his family live right next door to her. Being able to garden with her is a joy.

    As far as succulents go, if they don't have really good drainage they do tend to rot. I have a buch a sempervivums. I just love them.

  7. never been a fan of succulents
    but bought two flapjacks at a market on the weekend
    potted them up for the front deck
    they look great!

  8. Kent - wow, the difference in those varieties are amazing. I love the 'Lilac Time' one near the bottom of the page.

    Kel - I looked them up. I like them as well. They do look sort of edible, dont they :)


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