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Poems and garden images

Updated on March 27, 2011

Garden images in word and photo

Where I live in Pretoria, South Africa, we have a small garden which is mostly lawn (thank goodness the staff of the complex we live in keep it cut!) with rather narow beds around the lawn and these beds are full of mostly rather large plants and trees.

The beds are also south facing and what with all the trees and shrubs they don't get much sun, especially in winter, the season we are in now.

But I still find daily things to delight me in the garden and I take photos of everything that catches my eye.

I also love the written word and so in this Hub I want to share some of the images I have captured with my trusty Canon EOS400D linked to some poems and other writings about gardens that I have come across and found interesting over the years.

The images are not meant to represent the words nor the words the images - they are independent but perhaps related. I leave that to your imagination, dear reader!

The Rose is not fair

THE rose is not fair without the beloved's face,
Nor merry the Spring without the sweet laughter of wine;
The path through the fields, and winds from a flower strewn place,
Without her bright check, which glows like a tulip fine,
Nor winds softly blowing, fields deep in corn, are fair.

And lips like to sugar, grace like a flower that sways,
Are nought without kisses many and dalliance sweet;
If thousands of voices sang not the rose's praise,
The joy of the cypress her opening bud to greet,
Nor dancing of boughs nor blossoming rose were fair.

Though limned by most skilful fingers, no pictures please
Unless the beloved's image is drawn therein;
The garden and flowers, and hair flowing loose on the breeze,
Unless to my Lady's side I may strive and win,
Nor garden, nor flowers, nor loose flying curls are fair.

Hast seen at a marriage-feast, when the mirth runs high,
The revellers scatter gold with a careless hand?
The gold of thy heart, oh Hafiz, despised doth lie,
Not worthy thy love to be cast by a drunken band
At the feet of her who is fairer than all that's fair.

From: Teachings of Hafiz

Translated by Gertrude Bell 1897

The garden is mystical

Bad gardens copy, good gardens create, great gardens transcend.  What all great gardens have in common are their ability to pull the sensitive viewer out of him or herself and into the garden, so completely that the separate self-sense disappears entirely, and at least for a brief moment one is ushered into a nondual and timeless awareness.  A great garden, in other words, is mystical no matter what its actual content.

- Ken Wilbur, Grace and Grit, 1991, p. 109.

To the Moon

Art thou pale for weariness

Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,

Wandering companionless

Among the stars that have a different birth, -

And ever-changing, like a joyless eye

That finds no object worth its constancy?

Thou chosen sister of the Spirit,

That gazes on thee till in thee it pities ...

Percy Bysshe Shelley

The Garden

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness;
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green glade ...
Such was that happy garden-state, ...
-  Andrew Marvell

Soul Gardening

People who love this world, people who pay attention, are gardeners. People who are invested, people who are aware.  They are gardeners regardless of whether or not they have ever picked up a trowel. Because gardening is not just about digging.  Or planting, for that
matter.  Gardening is about cherishing.

-   Terry Hershey

Arcady brought home

There be delights that will fetch the day about from sun to sun and rock the tedious year as in a delightful dream ... For a garden is Arcady brought home.  It is man's bit of gaudy make-believe - his well-disguised fiction of an unvexed Paradise ... a world where gayety knows no eclipse and winter and rough weather are held at bay.
-  John D. Sedding, Garden-Craft, 1893

The state of grace called gardening.

As the biocentric view suggests, the garden prospers when control is balanced by equal measures of humility and benevolence. A balance is struck. Control, servitude, respect, imagination, pragmatism, an ecological conscience, compliance, and a certain measure of mysticism and altruism all meld together to provide nurturance. Try to separate the various aspects into their constituent parts - grant any one of them the status of fundamental gardening definition and one soon skews the entire process. Put them back together again in the service of the two-way street called nurturance, and we express the state of grace called gardening.
-  Jim Nollman, Why We Garden: Cultivating a Sense of Place, 1994, p. 106.

The Garden

How vainly men themselves amaze

To win the Palm, the Oak, or Bays;

And their uncessant Labours see

Crown'd from some single Herb or Tree,

Whose short and narrow-verged Shade

Does prudently their Toils upbraid;

While all Flow'rs and all Trees do close

To weave the Garlands of repose.

- Andrew Marvell

Nothing gold can stay

Nature's first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf's a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.


Trudging gravel back from a graveside

I notice ants, vigorous and blind,

knitting a net over the ground.

Hungry for us

as we are, not yet done,

they erupt from beneath

the pious stones and young mounds

of love.

How fast they would fish us each in,

off our bones, out of our clothes,

if we stood still for them.

Let's wash our hands

and get away from this

new life.

-  Lionel Abrahams, from the collection Journal of a New Man 1984

A Prayer for Rogation Days

Let us pray for God's blessing on the fruits of the earthand the labours of men.

Almighty God, who hast blessed the earth that it should be fruitful and bring forth abundantly whatsoever is needful for the life of man: Prosper, we beseech thee, the labour of the husbandman, and grant such seasonable weather that we may gather in the fruits of the earth, and ever rejoice in thy goodness, to the praise of thy holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From A Book of Common Prayer OUP 1954. (This was the prayerbook of the Anglican Church in South Africa when I was a boy.)

A Flower for the Night

Where I lived for a childhood

the night grass was as magical as the moon;

coolly white and soft, like new snow beautiful,

and deeply piled by the monsoons.

There was a flower (I never learnt its name)

that bloomed one night a year,

following, with its delicate bluish face,

the arc that the full moon steered.

There was a garden of small temples,

a shrine to the wind and other deities,

where tea was served to guests in porcelain shells

carried over bridges of red-painted filigree.

On the low, carved tables scattered about

black pots stood etched with cloud-shaped trees;

each pot held a bud, each had its silent know

from the waiting throng of, mostly, Chinese.

And then the moon rose, fat-faced and yellow.

The few lanterns appeared to fade in the silver air.

In minutes, as in a spell, all the buds opened.

There were so many quiet people there.

- Douglas Livingstone Selected Poems 1984

Down by the Salley Gardens

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;

She passed by the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.

She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;

But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,

And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.

She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;

But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

- William Butler Yeats

Flowers and Men

Flowers achieve their own floweriness and it is a miracle.

Men don't achieve their own manhood, alas, oh alas! alas!

All I want of you, men and women,

All I want of you

is that you shall achieve your own beauty

as the flowers do.

Oh leave off saying I want you to be savages.

Tell me, is the gentian savage, at the top of its coarse stem?

Oh what in you can answer to this blueness?

- D.H. Lawrence

Copyright Notice

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2009


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Rick, did you control your cmeraa with a remote? You really have this square foot gardening thing down to a science. I just finished reading the book, Square Foot Gardening By Mel Barthalomew. You are doing everything exactly the way he says to do it.It would be nice if you could get your neighbors interested in Square Foot Gardening. Mel Barthalomew was able to motivate the people in his area to start Square Foot Gardens, because they are maintenance free.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Wonderful garden and iinripsng thoughts, Thank you so much for sharing. God is not finished with me yet , reminds me that we are God's workmanship and He knows the plans that He has for our lives. In a way, we are like plants in a garden and God is the gardener. In God's care, we grow fruit, and bloom flowers. Thank God He's the caretaker of our gardens because He can pull out the weeds that may stifle our growth. Thank you for stopping by My Journal of Praise and liking a post.

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 

      6 years ago from Yorkshire


      this is a delightful hub, the pictures and poetry weave a fantastic feel of the perfect garden. I'm a garden nut and this has been a very pleasent read.

      thank you for sharing.

      all the votes

      regards Tony

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Peggy - thanks for the reassurance! Seriously though I appreciate your kind words very much, thank you.

      Glad you enjoyed!

      Love and peace


    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      By no means are you a "freak" with your picture taking. If you are...than many of us enjoy that same malady. I prefer thinking of it as being artistic. Beautiful photos matched by some beautiful words. Enjoyed the video also. Thanks for another enjoyable hub.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      I would love to read what you write about willow trees! Thanks for the visit and the comment.

      Love and peace


    • SwiftlyClean profile image


      8 years ago from Texas

      Very well done tony,The Willows besides the water opened something I remebered in my past.

      They are my favorte trees.They allways seem to tell me a story mybe one day I will have to write.



      Sharon Smith

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      2uesday - thanks for your kind words. I appreciate them very much.

      Love and peace


    • 2uesday profile image


      8 years ago

      A hub packed with 'gems' of poetry and photos waiting to be discovered - pleased I found this; thank you.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Oscillation - thanks for the visit and the comment.

      Love and peace


    • oscillationatend profile image


      8 years ago from a recovering narcissist.

      Beautiful Tony, thanks for lighting up my day.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 

      9 years ago from Philippines

      What a beautiful hub Tony! You are truly an artist of both words and images. I love this!

      You are not the only one who takes pictures of strange things. You should see my hub on mundane things!

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      tony, I loved the pictures and the poems! I really liked "Nothing Gold can Stay". Thanks for sharing these!

      Happy Father's Day!

    • TheMindlessBrute profile image


      9 years ago from Orlando,Florida

      I truly enjoyed this hub,what a peacefully poetic way to end the day.Thank you.

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 

      9 years ago from Massachusetts

      Beautiful Hub.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 

      9 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Beautiful. My favorite picture is of the fuzzy fern frond. Thanks for sharing

    • Ivan the Terrible profile image

      Ivan the Terrible 

      9 years ago from Madrid

      In Spain we have some natural gardens, which are left wild and free, and some manicured gardens, such as at old palaces and such. We have no lawn in our piso (apartment) but below is a small flower section near where the kids play. Some very ancient man and woman tend it, water it, weed it and keep it fresh and filled with flowers all year long. It is one spot of rare beauty in the city of Madrid, and even the kids respect it. More importantly, the dog owners respect it!

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks Hawke - I have added the video. Much appreciated

      Love and peace


    • Hawkesdream profile image


      9 years ago from Cornwall

      Above is the link to a' You tube video' where Yves Saelens sings The Salley Gardens..I remember singing it at school.

      Wonderful reading about the gardens.

    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks everyone - I sometimes think I'm a bit of a freak because I like taking photos of strange things, but if you all enjoyed them I feel a bit less of a freak!

      Seriously though, I love images made with words or by photographs and love the associations between the two.

      Love and peace


    • tonymac04 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony McGregor 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks everyone - I sometimes think I'm a bit of a freak because I like taking photos of strange things, but if you all anjoyed them I feel a bit less of a freak!

      Seriously though, I love images made with words or by photographs and love the associations between the two.

      Love and peace


    • Steve Rensch profile image

      Steve Rensch 

      9 years ago

      Excellent, Tony. I particularly liked the evening shot of the moon.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Nice, Tony. Really enjoyed the poems and the photos

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      "grace like a flower that sways." A true anthology, in both senses of the word. Delightful.

    • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image


      9 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

      Great! Picture of young leaves next to the "soul gardening" is my favorite, as well as first rose.

    • Kylie Doak profile image

      Kylie Doak 

      9 years ago from Australia

      Hi Tony

      That's terrific! (and very timely - I recently wrote a poem inspired by my garden and am just putting the finishing touches to a slideshow of photos from my garden! lol).

      Great photos, and I particularly love the poem about "Soul Gardening" :)

      ~ Kylie Doak ~

    • profile image

      Judy Witt 

      9 years ago

      STUNNING - What more can I say - you are multi talented


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