My name is Thando Mahlangu

I wake up early every morning to greet the sun and take a walk in the garden. The dew that coats the lawn prickles the soles of my feet, but it doesn’t bother me. In fact I welcome the sensation. I welcome the cold and freshness of a new day. In these moments, I find focus and clarity. In these meditative moments serenity overcomes me. I enjoy watching the sun’s light skip and dance on the leaves of the trees and shrubs.

The vibrant roses ululate like a congregation of joyous and divine worshipers. What a warm reception! In the company of my garden, amongst the greenery, I am revitalised. A blanket of stillness envelopes me, my mind opens up like a book and my thoughts are liberated.

“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty, or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.” – David Hobson

I inherited this love from my grandmother. I can recall her garden, an oasis in a township dessert. She displayed unconditional love, tending to her garden with the same compassion and care she did her patients. The garden was home to a variation of plants and fruit trees. On the veranda she kept some ferns and string of pearls hanging lazily from hangers. My grandmother raised me to be a horticultural custodian.

I grew up in a small, one-main-road town called White River in Mpumalanga (The Place Where the Sun Rises) Province. The rolling hills carpeted with unruly tufts of trees, jagged mountains and deep valleys of luscious and indigenous trees, a panoramic view called God’s window. This is where I decided to begin creating my own eden.

For a moment, I wanted to change my degree in Child and Youth Development and Sociology to Landscaping. With the few coins that I received for pocket money, I would frequent the local nursery to buy plants to become a part of my garden.I was left to my  own devices because I was evidently joyful and in my element.

I am reminded of a quote from the novel by Elizabeth Gilbert, “The Signature of All Things,”  “The old cobbler had believed in something he called “the signature of all things”-namely, that God had hidden clues for humanity’s betterment inside the design of every flower, leaf, fruit, and tree on earth. All the natural world was a divine code, Boehme claimed, containing proof of our Creator’s love.” How extraordinary!

To have a hand in a divine process adds to my sense of worth and fulfillment. I may not have formal training in Botany however, I am not afraid to get my hands dirty and learn as I have been doing for years. I will equip myself with everything I need to be a worthy plantswoman. The lines on my palms are the extensions of the veins of a leaf. I hope to be a meticulous scribe in documenting the various greenery found on this bountiful Earth.