Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Monday, 13 July 2009

Serendipity


Serendipity* is the discovery of something by happy accident. That's how I made friends with someone in northern California after a mix up with our email addresses. We got writing to each other a few times a year and finally after 11 years correspondence, I got to meet her (with lovely husband who took the above picture) in London yesterday. I for one hope it's not the last time we get together - yesterday was too short!

So for once, I'm breaking with tradition on my blog and showing you a very happy photo from yesterday which includes myself and NAH. This was taken at the presentation to me of my friendship quilt and was instantly emailed for opening when I got home last night. I still have a massive grin on my face after yesterday's exploits - more touristy/public planting kind of posts to follow. For me, it's amazing how that tiny confusion with an e-mail address, led to us finding a like-minded, fun friend a mere few thousand miles away.

Serendipity indeed.

* = I thought you might like to know a little about the origins of the word serendipity. It was coined by Horace Walpole, explaining it further in a letter he wrote in 1754 to his friend Horace Mann, who was living in Florence at the time:

I once read a silly fairy tale, called The Three Princes of Serendip: as their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of: for instance, one of them discovered that a mule blind of the right eye had travelled the same road lately, because the grass was eaten only on the left side, where it was worse than on the right-now do you understand serendipity?

According to the Times Higher Education supplement a few years ago, the word serendipity hasn't been used that much in our language even though a number of our most important scientific discoveries - x-rays, penicillin and gravity for example - are said to have resulted from it. I am therefore more than happy to increase the score for serendipity today.

What discoveries have you made that can be attributed to serendipity?

13 comments:

  1. What a nice way to gain a friend.

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  2. Ah, the elusive VP appears! It's always nice to put a face to a blogger, so I do appreciate the picture. How exciting to meet a fellow blogger from so far away; sounds like you had an interesting weekend.

    Serendipity is one of my favorite words; in fact, I did a post last summer with that title, thinking of plants I've come to love that I just happened to find by accident. It's such a fun word; thanks for the background on how it was coined by Walpole.

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  3. Just had a look through your recent posts and love your blog. Looking forward to reading more. I met my husband by happy accident. He came to a party in my room (years ago) at uni that I wasn't hosting and he wasn't invited to, but we met there all the same. Serendipity is a wonderful thing.

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  4. Indeed most a serendipitous turn of fate VP. Sounds as if you had a great day. It's one of my all time favourite words :)

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  5. Joanne - it's lovely :)

    Rose - we did and I've loads more to tell you about it. Serendepity sums up not only those accidental plant discoveries, but also those wonderful plant combinations which crop up in our gardens which weren't part of our original idea doesn't it?

    GardenMum - welcome and thanks for Following :) I love your story about meeting your husband. NAH and I met in a similar fashion :D

    Anna - it's one of my favourite words too because of what it describes

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  6. Not sure whether it is truly serendipity (meant to post this the other day) bbut on Monday our son left us 8 metres of 1 metre tall box hedging that he rescued from being put in a skip at Hampton Court. Funnily enough we had 'just the spot' for it. PD spent 2 days planting it, and it look wonderful! Hooray for daily heavy showers.

    I have a thought for Pan 'B'. Will be in touch.

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  7. Karen - thank you and I'm looking forward to another seredipitous meeting with you later this year :)

    Maggi - that sounds good. I've been thinking about Plan B too - Warwickshire's about the halfway point between us and there's a couple of places I'd like to visit there...

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  8. 'Serendipity' is the name of a programme on the television I used to watch as a child. It's also the name of a dog. (Though I can't remember which one.)

    Lucy

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  9. Marilyn Sue Chapman20 July 2009 01:50

    Well, as the other half of serendipity, I second Michelle's comments on the day. For 11 years we have shared tidbits and thoughts and finally getting to meet my virtual friend from across the pond was a joy! It felt like we were already friends! We can hardly wait until our next serendipitous encounter!

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  10. Lucy - I thought I had encyclopedic knowledge of TV programmes, but I hadn't heard of that one. Was it all about accidental discoveries?

    Marilyn - what a lovely comment and I can't wait either. I do hope we don't wait another 11 years!

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  11. Serendipity was a popular request for 'important words' and I even got Trafalgar Square to call it out everytime it was said! ;-)

    Alan's Fourth Plinth page

    Alan

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  12. Great! The score for using Serendipity goes ever upward :)

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