Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 4. 1962.
"There are Philosophers at the Bottom of Our Garden"
I read with pleasure that our visiting Yogi appeared on stage "accompanied by a red rose." Cheers! He's one of us, it seems.
You won't understand me, for you probably haven't visited our newly decorated Philosophy Department. To get there, you must leave the hurly-burly of Kirk, Hunter and Easterfleld, and cross the parade to the inconspicuous gate of No. 38. if you are not in a hurry (and philosophers never are), you may stroll up the path midst rose blooms of deepest red. Fellow philosophers will agree what better stimulus for an afternoon lecture than a piquant whiff from freshly opened buds, against a healthy backdrop of damp earth and moss.
Of course, it would have to be the Philosophy Department. Can you imagine a palaeontologist, etymologyst, economist, or mathematician enjoying, or even noticing, a modest rose. (Nice fellows, no doubt, but not a scrap of sentiment).
And we scent-imbibing philosophers are in good company. Lewis Carroll, a distinguished logician in his time, comes to mind as one who recognised the place of flowers in life's curriculum. Perhaps we should take a spell from Stage III one day, and whitewash a few buds, in memory of Alice's famous adventures in the rose gardens "through the looking-glass." (Better still, a Mad Hatter's tea party would just about hit the right spot at 3.10 p.m.).
A. A. Milne, no less a thinker (in my view), tells of the dormouse ". . . who lived in a bed, of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red)." Another advocate of floral gratification.
"O blest seclusion from a jarring world" wrote Cowper, with gardening in mind. And even if my secondary school education was inadequate, it has at least left me with a strong hunch that Wordsworth at some time or other found spring bulbs (recollected in tranquility) a ready relief, when his pensive moods came on badly.
We philosophers find this too, though our moods may be more often "vacant" than "pensive" A few minutes spent with the roses, and we are ready to face anything. Could I suggest that other departments seriously consider going "the garden way" too. Even Maths., on Easterfield 6th, could at least try window-boxes of alpine daisies. (Ultra) violets are an obvious suggestion for Physics, and maybe a few "forget-me-nots" would help in the Classics Dept. (All those irregular verbs, you know). "Cineraria" sounds like a choice for the Little Theatre, and "Sweet William" might not be inappropriate for the Phys. Ed. Dept. I'm sure you will think of others.
Shall we not supplement the old established Ivy with pot-plants and shrubs at every turn. We might then achieve fame for our fastgrowing, fee-consuming Victoria— New Zealand's only "Conservatoire" perhaps. Why not? After all, what University by any other name could swell less cheaply?
P. J. Donovan.