21 May, 2015

Of Imperial tea and ruby grass

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity

Once upon a time, on the shores of a Northern lake, a wide-eyed South African girl found a tea shop. I grew up with a choice of Five Roses. In my lunch hour I would explore my way thru words and flavours. First flush Darjeeling – too fierce for me, passed it on to a colleague who had lived in Kashmir. Smoky Oolong – his favourite. Vanilla tea – with slivers of a vanilla orchid seed pod. Even our rooibos.

Tea caddy, Chinese cha

Teehaus Wuehre was across from the Limmatquai in Zurich. When I bought this tea caddy, I was told it says – Guter Tee macht gute Laune (good tea puts you in a good mood, clumsier in English). Annie Yim, who I met on Google Plus, lives in Taiwan. In May 2012 she translated the Chinese characters for me. The Chinese equivalent of – by appointment to the Queen. Ming Emperor’s tea.  

Hausmischung Diana's tea
half Ceylon, a quarter rooibos and a quarter honeybush

The bottom symbol is the one for tea.
 tea leaves, traditional,
  Cha tea, simplified or traditional.
Annie tells me that  – ‘the little crosses on top mean grass,
while the  beneath symbolises wood’.

(PS If you use Windows XP there are 3 empty boxes
where the Chinese ideograms should be)
Thanks to Richard Stark on G+ for helping me with the translation.

Paradise and Roses
with borrowed scenery

Remembering a different garden with borrowed scenery in Porterville, our original Elephant's Eye. Beneath the orange trees in our friend Gayle’s orchard the corps de ballet dances. Ruby grass Melinis nerviglumis opens with tightly held plum teardrops, stretching into feathered old rose flowers, then unfolding into ivory seed heads. The three colours dance in the breeze in perfect choreography.

Ruby grass

Ruby grass, bud to seed

Ruby grass, the cygnets dancing

Because the details of grass flowers are so complex, so beneath human vision, I have another macro in a Mason jar photo. Not yet in my garden but I will nurture those seeds and hope they will dance for me in Spring Promise with the pink flowers.

Pictures by Diana Studer 
of  Elephant's Eye on False Bay

(If you mouse over teal blue text, it turns seaweed red.
Those are my links.
To read or leave comments, either click the word Comments below,
or click this post's title)