I suppose our neighbourhood is like most others really. The only happenings from year to year are the changes of season which, unfortunately, seem to affect everyone. For some it is in a small way but for others, well, their whole lives are torn apart and they are uprooted from everything with which they are familiar and comfortable.

My dearest friend and next door neighbour is Daphne. Her family has lived on the same patch for generations. Two things about Daphne’s family which I find really heart-warming are that the eldest girl is always named Daphne, and that the current generations wear the same beautiful fragrance that their mothers before them have worn. They are very traditional.

On my South side is old Mr Hydrangea. A fairly harmless old man most of the time but he can be moody. One is never quite sure which side of his personality one is going to be exposed to. Sometimes he can pop out all pink and rosy and be happy and positive and other times he can be dark and blue and quite depressing to be around.

Next to Daphne on the Northern side is Iris. Her family is certainly interesting. She has a Dutch uncle on her mother’s side, a Spanish cousin, her father, a very nice man has a Japanese mother and his sister-in-law is bearded, poor thing, but she is one of the best dressers in our neighbourhood. The range of colours in her wardrobe is absolutely astounding and the way she mixes and matches colours is eye catching at the very least, one could even say traffic stopping. Iris even has a dwarf on her father’s side, though what he lacks in height he makes up for, like the bearded sister-in-law, in style and colour.

Across the path is the daffodil family. They are such a bright, sunny bunch. Their faces are always happy and smiling and no-one in that family ever has a bad word to say about anyone. The littlest ones though are little show offs. They do love twirling their little hooped skirts in front of anyone who passes by.

Next to the daffodils is a garage and Ivy and her friend Virginia live around the corner on the Northern side. Ivy was a very friendly, outgoing person when she was little but these days she and Virginia tend to stick together preferring their own company. Ivy in particular has become quite withdrawn and terribly clingy. Another of their friends who is also rather dependent and often looking to friends around her for support, is Jasmine. She, however, is not quite as needy as Ivy and Virginia, sometimes making her way alone, but one cannot help but wonder what happened in their early lives to make them so lacking in independence. Perhaps they were never encouraged to be brave or to try new things? Who knows. Generally we just live and let live around here.

On the South side of the neighbourhood is one person who isn’t a positive force and that is Mrs Weeping Willow. She is morose and very negative. She just sits all day next to the pond, staring into the water as if it holds all the answers to her problems, whatever they might be, and seems incapable of raising a smile for anyone. I don’t know her background but it has certainly had a debilitating effect on her, leaving her constantly sad. We tend to let her be, but whether that is a good thing or not, I’m not sure.

Where Mrs weeping Willow is constantly sad, like all neighbourhoods we have our hot head who is permanently angry. Good old Red Hot Poker never disappoints. One expects him to be angry and he always is. It’s sad really. Anger wastes so much energy and it must be exhausting, to say nothing of the damage to his health. But the entire family is the same. They stand all day in big groups and whinge about the state of the world and get into such a lather that their blood pressure rockets and before you know it their heads are bright red from all that anger with no release button. We give them a wide berth.

Another good friend is Violet who also lives on our Southern side. Violet is very shy and self-conscious and always overdresses, in green, her favourite colour, no matter what the weather, sadly covering her beautiful lilac and mauve dresses that she usually wears. Like Daphne she smells beautiful, though her fragrance is more subtle and she is such a winsome little thing. We don’t see much of her but when she does emerge she is chatty and personable.

We have a couple of I-want-to-be-noticed types in our neighbourhood too. Tall Poppy stands head and shoulders over most of his neighbours and has a true lust for life. As he is no slouch, I think that anyone who holds himself up so straight and erect, no mean feat in Spring or Summer in the wind, deserves to be noticed and acknowledged. I just love his bright post-box-red hats. Cousins of his have beautiful colours but aren’t as tall as him. The other I-want-to-be-noticed type and frightful flirt is little Miss Show Peony. Life is all about her. She doesn’t like the wind. Who does? She complains because she doesn’t have protection from it in Spring to prevent the wind doing permanent damage to her face. Then, she craves and demands rain in Summer. Can you believe it? Who doesn’t want rain in Summer? But do we get it? No. Only our neighbours in the vegetable patch get that. But Showpeony goes on and on about it. She must have water or her beautiful face will be withered next Spring. She is terribly vain. But when we do have Summer rain, well she is something to behold. Her magnificent face glows.

I suppose after talking about everyone else in my neighbourhood I should introduce myself. I have been here for years. Most around here call me Banksia. I’ve invested a lot of energy over the years establishing and securing a seed bank. I’ve created a stronghold for my seeds that no-one, and I mean no-one can get hold of. The only thing that can access my seeds is a fire. Not much chance of that happening. See you around the patch.