The Sultana's Garden by geckojoy

The story of 50 patterns.
Coastal Courtyard - SG01

Once upon a time...

There lived a Sultana beloved of her Sultan.

He would grant her any favour she asked, and she asked for many. He always sought to surprise and delight her by going far beyond what she had requested.

Ripening Rambutans - SG25

Chasing Birds - SG49 & Melon Seeds - SG15

When she wanted a little pond of goldfish added to her palace courtyard, he gathered the most skilled craftsmen in all his brothers' kingdoms to build her a singing fountain, carved from pink marble and inlaid with Jade flowers and Cornelia vines to be the centrepiece.

Chasing Birds - SG49 & Melon Seeds - SG15
And it was like this with any favour however small.

So it was until one day the Sultana came to him in her usual way and said, "Husband, my love, my tiger, my Majesty, may you grant your loyal wife a small favour?"

Sunny Bed - SG39

He smiled and she continued. "The palace garden is looking a little wild and overgrown since the old Master Gardener returned to the heavenly gardens. Why just the other day one of our sisters tripped on a vine covering the path and tore her kebaya. Perhaps it is time another Master Gardener took over its management?"

Spiralling Seeds - SG40

The Sultan smiled and nodded and said, "Leave it with me."

And so she did and fully expected the problem to be dealt with and solved within the week. But a moon passed and still there was no new Master Gardener and the garden grew wilder and wilder.

So she went to her Sultan again. "Husband, my love, my tiger, my Majesty, may your loyal wife request an update on the progress of her small favour?"

Veil of Vines - SG32

But the Sultan just smiled and nodded and said, "It is still with me."

The Sultana was puzzled, but decided not to press the matter further. The Sultan had always kept his word in the past.

But another moon passed and still there was no new Master Gardener and now the garden was so wild the footpaths were entirely overgrown.

Munias in the Sun - SG19

And again she went to her Sultan. "Husband, my love, my tiger, my Majesty, may your loyal wife request if the palace gardens are to be restored to their former glory?"

Coastal Courtyard - SG01
The Sultan smiled and nodded and said, "Yes, in time."

The Sultana looked at him in amazement. "Is my tiger unwell? Shall I send for the physician? How will this happen in time? I see no Master Gardener leading the restoration."

The Sultan smiled and took her hand tenderly. "Do you not?"

The Sultana stared at him, greatly concerned. "No, there is no one."

Gilded Gliders - SG35

Instead of replying, the Sultan smiled and called for his boat to be prepared.

Beach Veranda


The Sultana followed him to the jetty, stepped in the boat after him and lay back on the soft pillows. Attendees sat behind them to shade and fan them with palm leaves.

Sea Foam Hibiscus - SG04

Coastal Courtyard - SG01
Clockwise from top left: Sea Foam Hibiscus - SG04, Floating on a Calm Lagoon - SG03, Estuary Seed Pods - SG02, Sketches in the Sand - SG05, Coastal Courtyard - SG01
Sea Foam Hibiscus - SG04

They passed a coastal fishing village. Children waved to them and dove into the water from their houses on stilts, bringing them pearl and coral necklaces for them to wear and sweet urchins to eat.

Clockwise from top left: Estuary Seed Pods -SG02, Silted Stilt Roots - SG07, Diving for Pearls - SG10, Sea Turtles - SG06

Diving for Pearls - SG10

They passed fishermen throwing nets into the water from floating baskets and drawing them back jumping with rainbow fish.

Kuaci Seeds - SG08
"How truly bountiful is the sea," murmured the Sultan. "How untamed and glorious."
Gliding Through Blue Skies - SG09
Sea Turtles - SG10

"Yes husband," said the Sultana. "Its treasures are delightful, but still I do not see..."

"Do you not?" The Sultan leaned forward and whispered something the Sultana could not hear to the boatswain.

Tiger in a Basket - SG30

Soon after, the boat turned off the coast and up a small river.

Kampong Orchard


From the river banks the great palace orchards grew in neat rows of coconut, star fruit, rambutan and jackfruit.

Sun-kissed Fruit - SG28 & Fruit Punch - SG26

Fruit Drops - SG27
Fruit Punch - SG26, Fruit Drops - SG27, Sun-kissed Fruit - SG28

Smiling fruit pickers waded into the water and dropped ripe mangos and sweet duku fruit in their laps.

It was noon now, so they sheltered under a tree a while to eat.

Fruit Drops - SG27

Lucky Red Pong Pong - SG22
Clockwise from top left: Dancing Trees - SG24, Lucky Red Pong Pong - SG22, Lucky Gold Pong Pong - SG23, Ripening Rambutans - SG25, Rare Bird - SG21,
Rare Bird - SG21
Flame-backed woodpeckers drilled soft woods in a dozy staccato.
Rare Bird - SG21
Dancing Trees - SG24
Woven Forest - SG29

The Sultan ordered the boat to be filled with baskets of fruit for their onward journey.

Woven Forest - SG29

Tiger in a Basket - SG30
"How far into the wild is he taking me?" The Sultana muttered to herself.
Golden Swallows - SG15
Golden Swallows - SG15
Golden Swallows - SG15

Mangrove Pontoon


The afternoon was hot but there was a cool breeze when they continued their journey upriver.

Grass in Bloom - SG17

Yellow Grass - SG18

Waterbirds moved in step through the tall grasses and reeds along the riverbank.

Water Birds - SG16

Clockwise from top left: Grass in Bloom - SG17, Yellow Grass - SG18, Padi Field - SG20, Water Birds - SG16, Munias in the Sun - SG19
Padi Field - SG20

The trees flanking them grew wilder and reached over their heads to touch their neighbour's branches.

The boat turned into a smaller river and this time they were going slowly downstream.

As the canopy grew into a thick shade, the attendees behind the royal couple relaxed and were soon dozing peacefully. The boatswain too started snoring softly. The boat drifted slowly with the current.

The Sultana moved to wake them, saying, "We are surely lost husband. There is nothing here."
Birds of a Feather SG11
Birds of a Feather - SG11, Floating Palms - SG12, Riverbank Arabesque, SG13 Melon Seeds - SG15
Floating Palms- SG12
But he stopped her and took her hand, "Do you see nothing?"

Sunlight filtered through the canopy and danced in the small eddies on the water's surface. Giant palms and flowering grasses grew on the banks.

Floating Palms - SG12 & Riverbank Arabesque SG13

Riverbank Arabesque - SG13
She sighed, leaned back and tried to see what he saw.
Chocolate Forest - SG37

Rainforest Retreat


Deeper in the forest, fig trees twined around forest giants and vines braided their branches. And dotted among the greens, blues and yellows of the leaves were wildflowers of red and of white.

Clockwise from top left: Laced Leaves - SG34, Beaded Trees - SG33, Veil of Vines - SG32, Love Birds - SG31, Gilded Gliders SG35
Beaded Trees - SG33

The Sultana sat up. She began to see what her Sultan meant. Ahead of them a family of mouse deer were at the water's edge drinking from the river.

"They are too shy to come to the palace," she whispered to him, delighted at the rare sight.

Laced Leaves - SG34

Veil of Vines - SG32

All around her she heard birds. Golden orioles calling in golden voices for their mates, koels singing soulfully and long-tailed drongos imitating innumerable other birds.

Love Birds - SG31

Chocolate Forest - SG37

It was music such as was never heard in the palace, not even on cool monsoon nights when the orchestra played in the palace gardens.

Feather Basket - SG38
Forest Bed - SG36

The Sultan saw her pleasure and said, "Shall we go deeper? There is one more sight I believe you should see before we go."

The Sultana laughed and clapped her hands. "Oh yes, my love, warrior for my soul and poet of my heart."

Spiralling Seeds - SG40
Caterpillar Pitchers - SG44

Waterfall Baths


So they travelled deeper still into the rainforest. A faint sound like the rustle of leaves before a storm grew louder and louder until it was the only sound they could hear.

Chasing Birds - SG49 & Melon Seeds - SG15

Cascading Pods - SG43

The waters around them grew strong and frothy and white. The boatswain pulled into a small turn, hitched the boat to a tree and they all stepped off.

Chasing Blossoms - SG49

Falling Pitchers - SG45

The Sultan led the Sultana by the hand along the waters edge, around the bend of the river and guided her in front of him at the last step.

Cascading Blooms - SG42
She gasped.
Clockwise from top left: Falling Pitchers - SG45, Cascading Pods - SG43, Cascading Blooms - SG43, Nightfall -SG44, Caterpillar Pitchers - SG44

They stepped into a hidden gully surrounded by waterfalls on three sides.

The water rushed over cliffs covered in flowering vines into a turquoise pool of cool, foaming water.

Paddling in Dappled Pools - SG46

Bed of Wildflowers - SG48
Paddling in Dappled Pools - SG46, Flower Basket - SG47, Bed of Wildflowers - SG48

Flower petals floated towards the Sultana's feet. She picked one up and turned to the Sultan smiling.

"Truly this is the creation of the Master of all Master Gardeners. I will trust in time we shall have a garden as beautiful as this surrounding our palace."

Flower Basket - SG47

The Sultan smiled and nodded.
Nightfall - SG41


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The Sultana's Garden
Created By
Geckojoy Joy Salmon


Photos credit: Unsplash