In the name of Peace
When I look back, by winter my thinking is always the same; the list of things I’ve not yet done. The trees that keep growing and need to be pruned and tamed. The projects to be started and those still to finish. It’s the time of year to take stock but it’s also a good reminder that a garden is never finished. It’s a constant dance of back and forth and reinvention. This year my list reads; prune the olive tree, evict the possum from the puka, net the herb garden to keep the rabbit out, pave the pātio, prune the karo and underplant with fernery, stain the new deck, rebuild the stile to the mountain and lift the loquat branches. Then the front garden.....well that might as well just be that, make the front garden. I’m actually convinced that each year this list gets longer, each task seems to bring about six more and I’m starting to understand the old proverb, “When the house is finished, the life is over.”
Right now, my life is looking very long and promising indeed! The list itself is sitting in the pile of papers while I pack a suitcase, with plans and summer frocks and sandals to create another garden a long way from home. Together with two other designers, Zoe Carafice and Charmaine Baillie, we’ve been commissioned to create a garden in the town of Le Quesnoy in the North of France. This Spring it will be 100 years since New Zealand soldiers liberated the residence by scaling an ancient fortification with a ladder they’d borrowed from some Australians camped down the road. This act has been remembered all this time and the streets of the town are named after various things New Zealand. For the last hundred years the soldiers from New Zealand who sacrificed their lives to liberate the town have been cared for as they would their own sons.
The garden will be one of twelve around Northern France that will be created by designers from around the world in the name of peace. They will be opened in the Northern Spring in the lead up to the centenary of WW1. My first trip is to finalise the design and to meet the mayor and team who will support us in our work, but it’s also a journey of discovery. To come to have an understanding of the past and of the journey undertaken by these men and to find a way to express a message from home that gives respect to their stories and believe in a better world. We hope we will be able to do this and the garden offers a place that people can visit and experience something special. A connection to home and to a distant place.
It’s a reminder that gardens are about people and relationships. Reflections of ourselves and our vision of the world, and also that they are a place for escape and sanctuary even in the hardest times. We should never underestimate the importance of beauty in touching the human soul and reconnecting people to what matters.
So, wish me luck as I head out of my winter into another’s summer and bring our spirit to another place.