2010: What a Year

My favourite photo of the year

My favourite photo of the year

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!


Cothay Manor

Cothay Manor

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.


Cottesbrooke Plant Fair

Cottesbrooke Plant Fair


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!

14 Comments on “2010: What a Year

  1. I hope your Christmas at home went well. Like you, once the so-called big day has passed, I yearn for long evenings and warm days to return – enough of this being inside lark! Time to get out the seed catalogues and plan the year to come…

  2. I agreed with every word in your first paragraph. I’m the same way, and will probably have my decorations down in the next couple of days. I also agree with what you said about probably being to harsh on yourself about how your garden looks. I’ve been looking through old pictures since I was planning to do a similar type of post, and was impressed with how good it all looked.
    I really enjoyed reading about your year in review!

  3. I enjoyed reading and seeing images of the last year. I see you had some sorrows, which I feel saddened for you, but you also had both joys and fun experiences too. The meet up had to have been a great experience and the places you visited very rewarding. Your garden I am sure is so much better than you imagined considering your trials this year. I hope 2011 treats you warmly and gives you much joy.

  4. What a year! Thanks for writing this. I rarely write an “end of year report”, but when I do, it always helps me make sense of the previous 12 months. Well done. I hope you feel much happier and more fulfilled in 2011. Jane x

  5. Helen, What a lovely post that you’ll always treasure when looking back. So sorry for the loss of your sister. May 2011 be a very very good year for you.

  6. A year in review is like turning the corner waiting with appreciation of the past and happy anticipation of the future. May 2011 bring you joy.

  7. Helen I found myself nodding along with your first paragraph! My husband just commented yesterday as to when I would begin to pull all the holiday cheer down!
    Thank you for sharing your 2010 journey in such a beautiful way. I’m sorry for the loss of your sister and am glad you found moments of true joy spent with your sons. Family is to be cherished indeed. I’m looking forward to hearing more from you in 2011. Happy New Year.

  8. I am with you entirely on the Christmas/New Year thing. I am glad this year seems to be closing on a better note for you than last year. I very much enjoyed meeting you and hope we will meet again in 2011, both in Malvern and in Wales. You are right about twitter and blogging friends too – what a great addition to an already full life!

  9. What a lot you have packed into the year Helen. It was good to me you again at Malvern this spring ~ you and VP deserve stars for all your hard work and hospitality. I hope that the forthcoming year is kind to you and your family. I am sure that spending time at your new allotment will sooth your soul and bring much pleasure, although you may also feel like tearing your hair out at times when the weeds seemingly multiply overnight. Those gates look most welcoming 🙂

  10. What a great review of your year and it certainly helps to see everything you’ve achieved, in the garden and not. I know what you mean about Chelsea – I have a love hate relationship with the show. I love seeing new ideas but hate the fact that it is all so false. I also hate the crowds and this year’s show was so hyped by the media saying it was one of the best which I didn’t agree with at all. So like you my decision as to whether to go or not is on hold.
    Have a really great gardening year in 2011. Christina.
    PS in Italy the decorations all stay up until the 6th January as that is another holiday – the Befana – a friendly witch who, guess what, brings sweets to good children and coal to the naughty ones!

  11. It sounds like a roller coaster year Helen. Highs and lows. I remember some of them even tho I am not over here often. I hope 2011 holds good things for you.
    You sure did pack in a lot of gardening activities. So many tours I’m jealous of! It was interesting to read your perspective on the Chelsea Garden Show too. That’s something I’ve long been interested in attending (on my bucket list) but now you make me wonder if I would actually like it!
    We have not had the cold and snow yet like so many places. It’s a welcome reprieve here. Still, I am ready to move into spring and as the light increases, I will be even more anxious to do so. Happy New Year!

  12. Dear Helen, we also had to cancel our Christmas trip to Holmes Chapel in Cheshire due to the weather. May 2011 bring you happiness. Alistair

  13. Dear Helen, you had quite the year in 2010, such high and low points. I do so hope that 2011 sails high as the sky for you. For me, the high point of a life long dream coming true was meeting you and the other bloggers. Your generosity and divine hospitality will never be forgotten. I loved coming to your home, seeing your beautiful garden and being taken to the most wonderful places with you at the helm. Stockton Bury will forever be in my most pleasant memory. I hope your little orchid thrives that you purchased there.

  14. What a roller coaster year you’ve had in 2010! Hopefully 2011 showers you with more good things. And from what I’ve read it does sound like your gardening life is going to be more exciting and filled with new opportunities. May the rest of life follow in the same direction!

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: