Garden writing lifts me up.

The November Garden In Perspective: Crab Apple, Pinnochio and Dougal

My little garden with the large crab-apple tree becomes rather small when taken in context. Very small compared to, let’s say, Hyde Park, London; smaller still in relation to Central Park, New York, but insignificantly small when viewed alongside Mr Donald Trump’s enormous nose.

Occasionally, I rise during the night for a very relieving natural break. It is a universal truth that we mortals have to pee, and gardeners are not exempt, but isn’t it great that the body clock warns us (gardeners and non-gardeners alike) to wake in advance? Occasionally also, but not always to the point, we notice that the sky is completely clear, and the millions of stars are out to greet us on a true winter night that is crisp and cold.

In such circumstances a coffee is allowed. Alternatively, a cigarette may be one’s choice of fix, all the while taking in the presented scene. Take some time, short or long, to stand and stare. Best spot for this exercise might be outside back door, just far enough away from house lights. Best apparel might be dressing gown, slippers and hat. Said hat could be conveniently placed for such impromptu opportunities. On occasion, deep thoughts can present themselves. This is natural, and we should not struggle to dismiss them. Savour the coffee and the moment.

Unplanned Eureka Moment

Last night was one such night. At 1am, there was a clear sky, filled only with well-focused stars and dark spaces. As I looked down the garden and upwards, my eureka moment duly arrived. Immediately, I went in for more coffee (no point in going back to bed, because the moment needs writing!)

That’s a lot of writing just as an introduction to this evening’s gardening article. My preference is for a shorter post. I like my blog and others too, especially when the content is brief. Anything longer than a short story sees me skimming for the main points. It’s also a lot of writing without a picture to draw the eye, in a way that a thousand words never will, so here’s a night crab-apple shot in the moment. Tip #1 for November nights: when the phone is still upstairs by the bed, have the real camera handy for crab-apple shots.

Crab-apple tree
Crab-apple 1cm: also available on far-away gardens, methinks

The Father Ted Effect

My suburban garden comprises smaller plants, in the main. There are taller shrubs and two trees, together with larger structures to provide perspective.

Sweet Pea 5cm: reproducing prior to death

In the larger scheme of things, I am somewhat bigger than most of my plants, yet much smaller than the columnar beech. I am, however, older and wiser. Yet, as I gaze upwards, with my coffee and cigarette in hand, coffee right, cigarette left, (but that’s not important now), Mister Eureka makes me think of far-away gardens on planets circling far-away stars, and in the interest of balance, a particular scene from the TV series Father Ted brought me frantically back to earth. Ted is demonstrating some plastic toy cows to Dougal.

OK, one last time. These are small…. but the ones out there are far away. Small… far away.

There you have it! My little garden with the large crab-apple tree becomes rather small when taken in context. Very small compared to, let’s say, Hyde Park, London; smaller still in relation to Central Park, New York, but insignificantly small when viewed alongside Mr Donald Trump’s enormous nose. It’s the Pinocchio effect, for the upcoming US presidential election.

20cm Alyssum Golden Ball Our little earth is merely a small ball

The Universe

It is further significantly smaller when looking to the night sky. Here’s a little clip to summarise the place of my garden (sometimes lovingly referred to my be as my universe):

Futurism: Scale of the Universe Please be patient, as it can take up to 15 seconds to load the universe on PC. Run the flash animation, but not sure if these will work on phones? Phones are just too small to run something this big, perhaps. Feedback very welcome, especially if it DOES, in fact, run on your phone.

Here’s a second one, equally enormous. Scale of the Universe #2

12 minor thoughts along the way:

  • If I were a plant, this clear sky would be an all-night affair
  • The Raffesia flower is the largest on earth, blooming to a diameter of approx. 1 metre (3 feet). It features in the first animation above, but not in Ireland
  • The following are in my garden, in diminishing size order: earthworms, ants, clay particles, hydrogen atoms (lots of these present), chlorine nuclei and high energy neutrinos. The latter is probably unproven, yet I’m going with it. These may even combine to form other interesting stuff.
30cm Calendula, commonly known as Pot Marigold.
  • I’m certain there’s a garden like mine far far away out there
  • I’m wondering are there garden bloggers out there, sharing eureka thoughts on some universal social media? I’d love to make the connection, to share my crab-apple!
  • Garden plants and star names are normally in latin, and some share a common name eg Venus, cosmos, aquilegia (Lady’s Finger)
  • By now, a second coffee might go down well
About my size: Acer palmatum
  • Father Ted is an Irish TV sitcom, produced by British independent production company Hat Trick Productions. The Irish do comedy, but it takes the renowned British to produce it!
  • November 2nd is known as all Souls’ Day, but I’m not religious.
  • My brother, Gary, is somewhere out there, and also very close to my earth garden
  • Is there an after-life for plants? Of course there is, in an altered state.  My deceased dahlia from 2012 is now changed to living soil
  • Burning the midnight oil, stargazing and blogging is best when retired and not concerned with the world of early morning work
Larger than me: Callicarpa bodineiri “Beauty Berry”
I really should have known that a post along these lines was on the horizon. I had been night cycling with friends, and we were all in agreement that:

  • it was a cold clear cloudless night
  • there were lots of very well-focused stars and things even at 8pm
  • night cycling is a terrific buzz, but that’s not important now
I have included a satellite observation report of the route on my cycling blog. Interested gardeners who cycle will notice that it is very dark. The voice recorder data on the black box is turned off for privacy reasons. Also turned off is the weather data, so you’ll have to take my word for it that it was indeed quite cold.


  1. As an experiment in perspective, the six plants photographed are in increasing size order.
  2. Raffesia website. This will blow your mind. Considered one of the rarest in the world not only for its gigantic petals but also for the putrid smell it emits to attract pollinators and prey, the genus rafflesia is endemic in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
  3. Hyde Park covers 142 hectares (350 acres) and Kensington Gardens covers 111 hectares (275 acres), giving a total area of 253 hectares (625 acres), making their combined area larger than the Principality of Monaco (196 hectares or 480 acres), though smaller than the Bois de Boulogne in Paris (845 hectares, or 2090 acres).
  4. Central Park is an urban park in middle-upper Manhattan, within New York City. Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States, with 40 million visitors in 2013. It is also one of the most filmed locations in the world. The Park was established in 1857 on 778 acres (315 ha) of city-owned land
  5. In Lutheran Europe, the practice of “souling” is interesting. Bread cakes are baked for children who walk from door to door begging for alms or “soul-cakes”. For consumerist Europe, substitute sweets, and disregard the connection to honouring the dead.
  6. It was probably inspiration from the more “folksy” traditions among the Irish and Scottish immigrants to the USA, which generated the commercial Halloween which has been taken up so enthusiastically only recently by Europeans.
copyright Terry Gilliam
President of something bigger than himself? The universe should be worried.

Happy November gardening, wherever you are, no matter how large or small your universe,

“I am intrigued by writers who garden and gardeners who write. The pen and the trowel are not interchangeable, but seem often linked.” ― Marta McDowell (and adopted for Petals by Paraig).

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