Saturday, August 31, 2019


Some of you might be lucky enough to visit the internationally acclaimed Hamilton Gardens here in New Zealand. One garden in particular is close to my heart, as it reflects many of the cultural aspects of colonial women and their gardens that I examined in my thesis. This is the Katherine Mansfield garden, which is designed to illustrate a scene from one of her most famous short stories 'The Garden Party".

In this garden you might see a pale pink bench that is not mentioned in "The Garden Party" and wonder why it is there (and why pink of all colours?). This bench has been placed in the garden in honour of Katherine Mansfield's favourite sibling Leslie who was killed during World War One. In dealing with the devastating aftermath of his death, Mansfield wrote a poem in which she recalled their childhood together in the garden of their home in Wellington.

"Do you remember" she wrote "sitting on the pink garden seat?'
"It always wobbled a bit..."
"Sitting on that seat, swinging our legs and eating the pears..."

The fictional Leslie was portrayed in "The Garden Party" as the heroine Laura's brother 'Laurie'. For that reason, and because the real Leslie can represent all the young New Zealand men lost in that terrible conflict, it is fitting that there is a place in the garden for a pink bench. So that's the story, pass it on.

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