Bringing the Outside in

I greeted a friend at my door recently to find a bunch of flowers outstretched towards me; a generous posy of old-fashioned roses nested within silver fern-like foliage and spires of mauve salvia. “They’re from my grandmother’s rose bushes,” Kate said gently cupping the full blooms of pale pink. I breathed in the powdery sweetness, and it reminded me of my own grandmother’s garden. Accepting the gift I found myself slightly teary, and bustled off to find a vase.

Setting them on the kitchen table, the room was transformed; light and joyful. It was as if the sun and rain and love and care that it had taken to plant, grow, nurture and harvest the flowers had travelled with them, and was sweeping through the house, feather dusting every wintery corner.

My mood too, lifted. I had been feeling a bit like a caged bird, bound to the computer most of the day. Suddenly, the garden I was craving was inside.

It reminded me of an apartment I had visited recently. Shelley is an artist, gardener and basket weaver. Behind the severe 1960’s red brick exterior Shelley had created an urban oases.Her tiny balcony overflowed with pots and hanging baskets of herbs and edible greens. A concrete patch at the back of the units was similarly transformed. Inside, her walls hung with drying vines, reeds and rushes;handmade baskets decorating shelves and kitchen. A woven platter in the centre of the table offered freshly harvested herbs for tea – lemongrass, basil, chocolate mint, and thyme. I sipped on my mint brew surrounded by a sea of ivy and a circle of women weaving baskets and reflected on how warm the space felt; the conversation between us grounded and expanded by the softness of the natural décor.

I had grown up in a house full of flowers and potted plants, and it not until I was older and had visited many houses that were devoid of indoor colour that I realised what a difference it makes.

The unexpected flower gift reminded me that I had been forgetting to take time to smell, and pick, the proverbial roses.

With this in mind, I took to the street with pruners in hand. The wintery neighbourhood offered little in the way of flower – camellias, geraniums and salvia being the outstanding exceptions.

I decided on a native theme, and returned with sprays of flowering yellow gum, red bottlebrush and wattle foliage. In an instant the living room became exactly that – alive – me included.

If you can’t be outside, you can always bring the outside in.