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Donvale Hill Probus Club visit to The Singing Garden of C.J.Dennis

A group of 20 Donhill Probus members and friends went on a delightful journey back in time to Arden, the Singing Gardens of the poet CJ Dennis. The actual home itself had a chequered history and finally burnt to the ground in 1965.  The current owners, Jan and Vic Williams bought the overgrown property in 1969 and worked their magic in restoring and planting the gardens.  Our visit was at the very best time of the year to see the wonderful rhododendrons and azaleas in full bloom and also the majestic trees towering above us all. One special tree was planted in the 1930s when CJ Dennis was alive and was a subject of one of his very moving poems The Tree.  Our host,  Jan, stood under this now huge tree and recited this poem which was very moving.When we arrived everyone was given a refreshing cup of tea served in a teapot with a hand crocheted cosy and later we were given a delightful home- made lunch of minestrone soup, sandwiches and a fresh warm scone straight from the oven.We were all impressed with how Jan could remember CJ Dennis’s poems and was able to recite several of them to us. Jan knew the names of all the different rhodies as well as the exotic trees in this wonderful garden.A lovely day and a lovely journey up to the Toolangi property
Jane Johnson


The Tree

I planted here, today, a strong young tree.
Rich soil it has, and sun, and space to grow
And who, I wonder, in the years to be
Will seek its boughs soft shade, for well I know
Long ere this slender plant grows full and round
He who now tends it shall be sleeping sound.

What manner of a man will sit to view
This now familiar scene when those shades spread
Will he be thankful that he never knew
These days of strange, uncomprehended dread
Or will he, gazing back, find cause to sigh
For olden peace, for happier days gone by

I planted here, today, a strong young hope
That, when this tree s green banners be unfurled,
There shall come singing down this verdant slope
Some wiser mortal of a wiser world.
And if he bless the man who set the tree,
And be content, so, mayhap, shall I be.

C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney, Angus & Robertson, 1935, page 152