When wandering around our neighbourhood I cannot help but look at the gardens in our area. I note the changes in the colours and shapes of leaves and flowers, the transformation with the seasons. Nature, the ultimate form of creativity.
Though I see many beautiful gardens, it is more often the interesting ones that capture my imagination. Like an Enid Blyton book from childhood, the rambling gardens seem to have a bigger story to tell. One in particular has always stood out. Overgrown, unkept, curious. My favourite attraction by far was the two amazing jade plants near the letterbox. So neglected, yet the best specimens I think I have ever laid eyes on!
Ever heard of RAOK? As Wikipedia says,
"A random act of kindness is a selfless act performed by a person or persons wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual or in some cases an animal. There will generally be no reason other than to make people smile, or be happier."
So what's this got to do with gardens? After gaining so much pleasure from these gardens, my young son and I decided to thank their owners. We made up cute notecards and wrote a little message on each. There were no identifying features on any of the notes, ensuring we'd remain anonymous. One day, we snuck around our neighbourhood and popped them in letterboxes, just for fun.
Months went by, seasons changed and we had continued our neighbourhood walks, the notes all but forgotten. One day, whilst admiring our favourite jade plants, a man called out to us. "It was you, wasn't it? It was, I know it was!" Caught by surprise, we couldn't help but grin, cover blown! After that we often saw our new smiley friend in the neighbourhood, though he'd always been there. We were grateful when he offered us some cuttings of his lovely jade plants. We were excited when he informed us one December evening that he had heard that Santa would be calling past his street, and that we would be welcomed as honorary members of that street for the event.
Earlier this year, our friend let us know that he was leaving the area. I wasn't sure what would happen to his garden, but had lots of little jade plants growing happily in our garden from those original cuttings. But there was more to come. He was concerned that the new people in the house may not appreciate the jade and he wanted us to have the old one in the pot. And one day it just turned up at our gate. How lovely! So grateful...
A number of weeks later I arrived home to discover another massive jade plant, this one perhaps 5 foot tall, left in our garden. It turned out that our friend just didn't want to leave the other jade to the mercy of the new owners, so he'd headed back to the house, dug it up, somehow managed to get it on a trailer, driven it to our home and manoeuvred it into our yard. A few days later, after a big trim and two people struggling to move it anywhere, the newest addition to our garden was residing a half wine barrel. And seemed to be very settled in its new home.
I could never have imagined that a little "Thank You" note could return so much to our lives. Apart from some beautiful plants, we have a smiley friend and lots of little jade plants to give away... Perhaps our next RAOK project?
ANOTHER UPDATE: I've not seen Macca for years, I often wonder what he's up to. Recently I noticed that the house where he had lived has been demolished and the land stripped of all plant life. But Macca's jade and the spirit of a kind soul lives on...