I’m not a big one for celebrating the New Year, I find it very over hyped and commercial and people seem to have high expectations for having an amazing time. For me Christmas marks the end of the year and I find myself looking forward and making plans before the tree is even down. In fact my tree is frequently down before the New Year. I like Christmas I have just had enough of all the decoration by about the 29th and want to get on!! Part of it is due, I think, to having had the shortest day on the 21st December and so we are already moving forward and thinking about when we can plant things etc.
So, as for me its the end of the year I thought I would look back on the past year as they do on all those TV shows!!
January started off chilly with snow and ice and amazing stalagmites. I worried about my plants and was lucky to only loose a Geranium Madrense. I received a large quantity of seeds from various seed distribution schemes (which I have now decided is not the best way to go and wont be repeating) and Vegplotting and I had to daft idea of inviting people to meet up with us at the Malvern show.
February was a challenging month for me. Having lost my sister suddenly in October 2009 I broke down in February as the suppressed grief while I put on a brave face for my parents overwhelmed me. I can also see now in retrospect that the new relationship I was in was having a negative impact on me. More snow in mid-February added to my depression and frustration and my end of month post shows my feeling of despair of ever getting into the garden which I desperately needed to help me heal.
March and at last spring flowers start to appear in the garden and it is possible to start sowing seeds and moving forward. My eldest built me some raised staging just off the patio area which finally helped address a difficult area. The staging has been a real boon. In the spring it was full of seedlings and young plants hardening off, the summer saw it covered in my tender plants and now it is fully occupied with pots of bulbs. Enthusiasm for the blogger meet up was growing and beginning to scare us!
April another difficult month for me as I finally got to see a grief counsellor which was fantastic as I felt that I was given permission to grieve, it also made me feel as though I had woken up from some sort of torpor and I realised that the relationship I was in was making me extremely happy. This was apparent on a weekend away to Devon which despite visiting the lovely East Lambrook Manor Gardens and discovering the enchanting Cothay Manor was not the best weekend away. The month ended with me painting a picket fence at a show garden at the Malvern show and feeling relieved that I was moving forward.
May – a month of two shows. The start of May brought the Malvern Spring Show and around 40 bloggers met up over three days. We even welcomed some international guests: Gail, Frances, Ewa and Yolanda who were a merry bunch and you would think had known each other for years. We had two meals out with around 15 at each meal and a get together at my house when I think 20 bloggers turned up. The overriding thing that I remember is the feeling of friendship and how people were amazed at how easy it was to talk to people they had never met before but had been talking to via the internet for some time. The month ended with my first visit to Chelsea Flower Show. This left me with mixed feelings – I found it all a little claustrophobic, surreal and pretentious. It is obviously aimed at the London and well healed market and this was noticeable with the prices of the sundries for sale. Also unlike Malvern you can’t actually buy plants. It’s not really for me and I havent decided yet whether to go in 2011 but it was an experience and I’m glad I went if it was only to see what all the fuss was about.
June started with a visit to Clare Austin’s iris fields which was fascinating and taught me that there is much more to bearded irises than I had realised. I also mulled over the different gardening club world I was involved in and I decided to leave the local club as I found it upsetting due to the members, albeit it well intentioned, asking me how the family were etc in light of losing my sister – I just wanted to move on. The end of June brought a visit to Cottesbrooke Plant Fair with VP which was fabulous and I shall definitely be going next year. This is more my kind of thing than Chelsea.
July and the garden is looking full. I also did a bit more garden visiting including a mad day with Victoria at Hidcote and Kiftsgate gardens in the Cotswold where we found ourselves comparing our reactions to the two gardens – I think it is fair to say we both preferred Kiftsgate and felt it was a more personal garden. I also discovered Bryans Ground in Herefordshire, the garden of the editor and creator of the Hortus magazine. I loved this garden for so many reasons and shall be going back next year.
The end of July and beginning of August took me and my sons on their first overseas trip to Italy. We had a fantastic time staying in Sorrento and admiring the citrus trees that made the ones growing in greenhouses in this country look pathetic!! On a gardening note we visited La Mortella the garden of Susana Walton. Back home I struggled to be enthusiastic about the garden and this wasn’t helped by never-ending rain. I pondered what to do with the slope at the back of my garden giving up on the idea of a wildflower meadow
September brought another daft gathering of bloggers and twitters. Arising out of a twitter conversation about gardens people would like to visit I managed to volunteer myself to organise a visit to Highgrove, Prince Charles’s house. So early September saw a disparate group meeting in Malmesbury and boarding a bright yellow coach. I think we all had a good day and the sun shone though I’m not so sure that we all liked the garden!! I also decided that the solution to the slope was to plant it with grasses and late flowering perennials. The month ended with the Malvern Autumn show which is getting better and better and a chance to meet Mark author of one of my favourite books this year A Taste of the Unexpected.
October and I started trying to look forward to 2011 and planted lots of bulbs. I took my eldest son to Grand Designs in Birmingham which was interesting and amusing. My son was told that his employer was unlikely to be able to keep him on as a joinery apprentice but he took a positive approach and got in his car and went out looking and within a week had secured another job. The new job is his dream job, he works for a top end furniture maker and is incredibly happy and learning new stuff every day. I decided to embrace growing edibles after being inspired by Mark’s book and planned a soft fruit border. At the end of the month I visited Arley Arboretum and saw the wonderful autumn colours.
November started cold, wet and windy which was not great given we had three days of award ceremonies at work! But I was quickly distracted when the local council offered me an allotment. November then was completely dominated with me trying to organise myself, find out more about vegetable growing and starting to dig the allotment.
And so we find ourselves in December. A month which has been dominated with snow and ice and incredibly low temperatures. So many people have had their plans for Christmas affected, including us, but at the end of the day at least we all have our health and each other.
Looking back on the past year has taken a lot longer than I anticipated. The photos of the garden in the summer has made me realise that I am a little harsh on myself and it looks better than I think at the time. I dont think I have really enjoyed my garden this year but I also think this has been due to struggling to deal with my grief. The highlights of the year have all involved meeting up with blogger and twitter friends – so thank you all particularly for your patience and support.
What will 2011 bring, well I think that’s for another post!