Without darkness there can be no light

At this time of year, I drink in sunlight like it is my lifeblood.

Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’

If the sun comes out, then I move towards the light like an etiolated plant.

Geranium psilostemon

Which I suppose is instinct.  At this time of year it is hard to get our daily requirement of Vitamin D.  Like Geranium ‘Anne Folkard’ here, who I have planted in the shade of a house wall.  The shade makes her a more moody purple.

Geranium ‘Anne Folkard’

But in the light she becomes vibrant magenta.  Look at her crimson veining, darkening to black near the calyx.

Geranium ‘Anne Folkard’

I am tantalised by this black hole at her centre.  I want to poke my little finger into it, or put my eye to it so see what it is like inside.  Which makes me think that darkness is important.  It makes us curious.

Geranium ‘Anne Folkard’

I found it difficult to photograph in this low sunlight.  I wanted to capture the sparkle of it.

Rose foliage with dew

The glittery magic.

Rose foliage with dew

In my efforts to catch the light, I was sometimes dazzled, and couldn’t see the image I was trying to create.  I had to point the camera, and hope for the best.  It was only when I went into the shade that I could see the image.

Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’

I was trying to capture light, but I got darkness too.

Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’

It is as if they need one another, to balance one another out.

Agastache ‘Blue Boa’

This made me think about life.  How the dark times we go through help us to appreciate the moments of lightness.

Erodium manescavii

After illness or injury, we appreciate health.  After being held back, we appreciate independence.  After great loss, we appreciate simple pleasures.

The droplets of dew on the hairs of a stem.

Geranium ‘Blushing Turtle’

The paint splashes on the back of a fading rose.

Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’

The jiggle of penstemon bells on a stem.

Penstemon ‘Raven’

The weight of a rose held in your hand.

Rosa ‘Young Lycidas’

I have two clumps of Geranium psilostemon in the rose garden.  They were both starting to look raggedy by the end of July: there were more seedheads than flower.  I carried out an experiment, cutting one back, and leaving the other alone.  The clump that was not cut back has stopped flowering, and is looking dusty and sad.  The clump that was cut back hard is now spritely and fresh with re-growth.  It is full of flower.  It is drinking in the sunlight.

Geranium psilostemon

The geranium which was cut back is looking out for new adventures.

Geranium psilostemon

Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ needed no cutting back, being the Duracell bunny of the geranium world.


‘Anne Thomson’ is a sterile hybrid, so doesn’t produce seed.  She can put all her energy into more and more flowers.  But don’t think her life is without excitement or challenge.  In order to make more plants, I will have to dig up a clump and splice the crown into pieces.  After this death-defying adventure, each piece will be replanted.  To fill the world with more ‘Anne’.


Everyone has their challenges.  Some are more visible than others.

Rosa ‘William Shakespeare 2000’ produces gorgeous flowers but his growth habit is painful.  His stems are too long for his body.  They cross over and their thorns cause self-harm and they get weighed down with the weight of flower.

Rosa ‘William Shakespeare 2000’

Who knows what agony this ballerina had to go through in bud?  Those petals must have been crushed.  Imagine the feeling of release on bursting out from those guard petals.

Fuchsia ‘Dollar Princess’

I’m not quite sure what Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’s personal challenges are.  She keeps them well hidden.  But that is not to say there are none. Her namesake had enough light and dark to fill several lifetimes.

Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’

If you feel damaged, or raw, know that it will not last forever.  There is darkness, and then there is light.  That is the cycle of life.  This too will pass.

Once we are back out in the light, we can appreciate the darkness, because it made us what we are.  We wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else, but we survived, and are here to tell the tale.  We are more than we were because of it.

What do you think?  Are you stronger for the challenges you have overcome?  Would you swop?  Do you hide your scars or wear them for others to see?

The Mindful Gardener brings you moments of reflection in a busy world.  If you would like to have a regular dose, click on the ‘Follow’ button at the bottom of this page, and you will receive an email each time I publish a new post.

25 Comments Add yours

  1. This is garden poetry at its finest. I enjoyed this so much πŸ’—πŸ˜

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Lisa; you are very kind. x

  2. Lovely sentiments. Nature is full of adversity but also examples of overcoming it.

  3. Cathy says:

    Insightful words, as always. Thank you

  4. Heyjude says:

    Beautiful words as usual Ali and I learned a new one: etiolated!!

    1. Ali says:

      I love that word! And once you know it, it is surprisingly useful!!

  5. bcparkison says:

    It is kind of like the color black. Very dark but full of every color in the rainbow.

  6. Beautiful writing and photographs Ali! It was the perfect read with my morning coffee!

    1. Ali says:

      That is lovely to hear! Thank you.

  7. Chloris says:

    Fabulous photos.

  8. Clare Pooley says:

    Very well said, Ali. Your garden still has summer flowers! Wonderful photos too. All my summer flowers are gone but the bees are visiting my mahonia and viburnum bodnantense.

    1. Ali says:

      Ooh, I should check on my Viburnum…

  9. nancy marie allen says:

    Your posts are always an inspiration! I love the photos of geraniums and roses, of course! And, yes, we do become stronger after going through one of life’s many trials and it is only after being in the dark that we truly appreciate the light!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Nancy. It is lovely to have your enthusiasm for roses and geraniums here.

  10. Wonderful post & the picture were too attractive πŸ™‚

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Chandan.

  11. could not agree more! Hardships make us stronger, although sometimes we do break down… Still, we need them to mature as human beings.

    1. Ali says:

      My thoughts exactly, Tatiana. There is no shame in the struggle.

  12. Love how you captured the dew on the leaves. I echo your sentiment at the beginning of your post about drinking in the sunlight when the days begin to shorten. I love the story Frederick The Mouse by Leo Lionni (1910-1999) in which a mouse absorbs all the colors before winter so he can make colorful pictures during their hibernation and keep them all warm. You’ve accomplished the same with your garden!

    1. Ali says:

      That sounds like a wonderful story! Thank you for such a brilliant comment!

  13. This is lovely Ali. The words and the photos are so gorgeousπŸ’•

  14. I needed this reminder today, Friend. Thank you.

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