Everybody wants it; but can health, good health be seen?
I’m not talking about humans.
This is about plants. And it is not a discussion about the definition of beauty or the definition of good health.
It is rather about what our eyes can observe. See a beautiful plant. See a beautiful flower. We are accustomed to those.
But something happened to me the other day on a walk. Our local weather has been good: sunshine, warmth and deep gentle rains. Locally, one finds in many home gardens well maintained topsoil–mulched with animal manures and dug in every year.
What does that mean? Healthy plant growth. And even with very common plants, their health shines. It captured my attention recently. My photo shows that. I hope you can see it.
Unusual perceptions of plants and their flowers? That is what CJ experienced for the first time in my book, Tangier Gardens. If you like plants and their flowers you will like CJ’s story.
A long time ago–an embarassing number of years–more than you need to know, I worked at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in Boston in the United States. Their specialization was woody plants.
They have four hundred named cultivars, varieties and species of lilac (Syringa). Each spring they have a massive public event that huge crowds attend–Lilac Sunday. The event timing varied as climate related events do. Early warm spring meant early lilacs could be mid-late April. Cold and a late spring meant late lilacs could be mid May.
So we watched carefully each year to determine accurately when would Lilac Sunday be.
All that crossed my mind as I was looking and enjoying lilac fragrance everywhere in my home town today. So if I was to call Lilac Sunday, I’d call it this week–Mother’s Day in the USA.
And the climate? A normal average year.
Go out and find a lilac. Enjoy the blooms and their fragrance. They go by rather quickly as May warms the earth.
CJ was coming of age and he was lost. He had wanted to get absorbed in a different culture. The labyrinth had captured him. In his despair he turned to his oldest friend, a girl with whom he had been growing for the past six years. And she became his strength. Though separated from CJ by thousands of miles, she lit his path to clarity.
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Who is CJ?
He is the protagonist in the series, The Landscape Architect.
The Landscape Architect is the title of a series of fictional autobiographies. These are CJ’s autobiographies. In this series, CJ reveals the twists and turns in the development of his career as a professional landscape architect via his interactions with cultures, landscapes, gardens and plants of the world—where the unexpected and downright strange become daily facts of life.
Tangier Gardens is the debut novel in that series.
When you dig into Tangier Gardens, you will find a contemporary coming of age action novel about CJ (Christopher Janus), who like us is facing a broad range of distressing challenges.
CJ needs a break. He has been busting his hump full time six years at university with one more class till graduation.
He wanted just a few moments of repose before getting on with his career.
Didn’t happen. We all sadly know that story. But how did CJ deal with it? Tangier Gardens is that story.
CJ, studying landscape architecture, is into pedestrian towns and warm sandy beaches. For his last class, a term abroad design study, he’s on his way to Tangier, a town with sandy beaches on the Med and a historical pedestrian district, the medina.
However, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar and landing in Tangier immediately upsets his planned easy observe-and-check-the-box design study. He is thrown off balance and he has to start all over from scratch–no more easy study.
With Andalusian legacies, languorous gardens, Moroccan markets and ancient medinas, Tangier Gardens brings Mediterranean life to the armchair traveler.
If you are:
-A nature lover, into urban gardening or a landscape architecture aficionado;
-Curious about all things green–the environment, plants, gardens, landscape;
-Intrigued about the North African multi-cultural, mystical history of people and plants, then
–Tangier Gardens IS A MUST.
If CJ and his Tangier Gardens intrigue, then please send me your email address for information about free pre-launch copies and 2022 launch schedule.
…for millennia…Tangier has been a nexus of Mediterranean, African and European cultures…a classic melting pot that is still on the boil.
Readers…by now you know that my blog, flahertylandscape, is all about plants and people–landscape journeys. Sounds fair and safe enough; but what I am about to share with you goes beyond strange.
Anyone who has worked in a garden–suffered blisters and callouses in a garden for fruit, vegetables, flowers, medicine–knows there is something more in those gardens. This is for you.
A short while ago, I prepared to record the revised draft of one of my novels to perform a sentence by sentence development edit. To my surprise, as I set up a folder for the audio, I found an old 30minute .aif file entitled Chocolate Gardens.
The Chocolate Gardens tells the story of a Tangier, Morocco garden, as recorded by Christopher (CJ) two decades ago. In order to visit the garden he was required by the garden’s owners, a Brit and a Ruskie, to undergo a special ordeal of chocolate and absinthe before walking at sunset in the garden. CJ first had to visit the land of the green fairies before he could enter their Oval Garden. This is that story.
I have attached a link to a 30 min. SoundCloud file that tells that story from the early days, back when I was developing the beta version. I am moving this story forward as Tangier Gardens–out of the classroom into real life…via plant portals. Click on the SoundCloud link immediately below and listen to Christopher tell his story.
…but the deeper Christopher (CJ) digs into Tangier, the stranger it becomes. He can’t tell one portal from another. Entangled almost beyond hope, he walks the Oval Garden at the Hibiscus House. His way out…his way home?
This is in part a freshly edited re-post of a 2015 post I made, entitled Chocolate, Gardens and Magic, which if I might say so, was well illustrated with Art Nouveau graphics. There you can read Christopher’s Tangier garden story–his journey in search of portals.