This year will definitely be different

The subject of my latest Botanical art painting
The subject of my latest Botanical art painting

Having been through a bit of a soul-searching dithering what do I want to do with my life yawningly boring six months or so I am beginning to feel more of myself than I probably have for over two and half years since my sister died.  In fact I think the emotional roller coaster I have been on (which I have no doubt isn’t completely over) has actually perversely left me more confident and stronger than I was before and made me aware of what really matters to me the most.

Through it all my passion for plants hasn’t gone although it has been knocked about a bit while I have toyed with garden writing and spent last year running around to various press events.  However, as I have said on here before this isn’t a course I’m interested in following.  I have realised how much I enjoy my job in University administration.  I am very lucky in that no two days are the same in my job and I work with a great bunch of people despite the difficult times the sector is going through. There are lots of exciting developments coming up and it will be great to be part of it all.  I think I have spent the last two and half years running away and avoiding things and distracting and filling my mind with anything and everything to avoid confronting difficult feelings and emotions.  However, I have turned a substantial corner and found myself craving my old life and pastimes.

Hence the ridiculous purchase of seeds which if I am honest is far in excess of any year before.  I can blame the year old allotment, or maybe plans to sell plants in the future or maybe even Sarah Raven’s recent programme about encouraging beneficial insects to the garden.  Whatever the reason I now have a very large box of seeds which is so big it has to sit on the floor but it makes me very very happy.

Where I hope to spend lots of time this year
Where I hope to spend lots of time this year

I have toyed around in the garden over the last year with some new borders and this year I want to focus on really making them look good and get the garden looking as lovely as it did three years ago before I made myself too busy to really look after it.  Due to this desire I am cutting back drastically on all the running around to events and may only go to the Malvern show this year plus visiting some gardens which are easy to reach from home or on the way to and from Plymouth to collect/deposit my youngest at University.

Saying that I also think having one of my sons living away from home has made the time spent when we are all living in the same house so much more precious and another reason why I don’t want to spend time charging around.  I suspect the only other horticultural exploits will be attending some of the wonderful events organised by the Womens Farm and Garden Association which I feel is a gem of an organisation and should be known more about.  My first outing with them is in April to Katherine Swift’s garden on which the Morville Year is based.

As I have said before I am studying a landscape history course which is for 10 weeks and finishes in April.  I am loving discovering the history of landscape history but have been surprised at how much of a challenge it is  to find the time and energy to do the work.  It isn’t that many years since I completed a degree with the Open University which was far more intensive and to be honest I have no idea how I did it as well as work full-time and bring up two children single-handed.  I suspect part of the reason I am struggling is because my job has changed so much and is far more demanding.  I don’t think I will do any more academic courses for some time if at all but it has fueled my interest to learn more although I can do this through books  and casual reading.

A look I am hoping to move back to
A look I am hoping to move back to

I am, at present, continuing with my weekly Botanical Art classes.  Its one of those situations where I get home from work on a Thursday and have to convince myself to go back out to art class but when I’m there I really enjoy it and have a laugh with my fellow classmates.  I have also recently made a leap forward and my paintings have improved and I feel a little more confident so I don’t think my sons will let me give up easily.

So this year is going to be a year of focussing on the garden and home (also in serious need of redecoration) and family.  I wonder if this time next year I will be saying how much I want to travel  around seeing things!!

Oops I sat down to write a post about how many seeds I had to sow and ended up with this one! Feel better for having articulated my thoughts though.


24 Comments Add yours

  1. I am glad you are feeling that you are coming through the other side a stronger person. Writing is wonderfully cathartic isn’t it!? Enjoy focusing on your garden this year and I hope you find a home for all your seeds 🙂 x

  2. A really heartfelt post – and I thank you for writing from the heart because it helped me – I recently lost someone and its been very hard. Its comforting to know that eventually we come through it again and are able to be happy. But, I wanted to read about the seeds too – maybe next post? 🙂

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Christine – I have written quite a bit about dealing with my grief as I find it helps me sort out my feelings. I sometimes think people will think ‘oh here she goes again’ but then I remind myself its my blog and I write for me. The seeds will appear soon promise

  3. That was such a delight to read. When we are all itching to get in the garden. I have just been going through my saved seed from last year but just added about 20 more seed packets I couldn’t resist. I am so pleased you feel you are back on track it sounds like you are feeling empowered again. Keep up your blog it keeps me motivated.

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Nel
      Oh I’m touched that you feel my blog motivates you – thank you

  4. Donna says:

    I agree with other posts – you have a real gift for writing so that’s one thing you must always keep doing if only for all our sakes!
    PS like you, i’m another OU-er (English Lit) – i thought there was something vaguely familiar in all that multi-tasking, perpetual interest in learning and boundless energy that you have…

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Donna
      I did English Lit with the OU as well – all those 19th century novels!
      Dont know how I did it now

  5. These are the best posts….emptying our hearts and souls onto the page Helen is so good for us…I still struggle with the loss of my dad after all these years…but my garden is where I find solace…I too bought too many seeds this year and after reading your post I think I now know why…I can lose myself in something new that will require my time so I can keep myself sequestered. I think it will help as your post has Helen.

  6. Sandra Jonas says:

    Helen, I can relate to your plan not to run arround to events. This was the year I stopped doing the same. It has left me so much more relaxed and with more energy going into the garden.

    I am so happy to hear of your desire to have your life back. A very positive step in healing.

    Enjoy those seeds, and happy sowing!!

  7. Perhaps all the running around you have been doing is running away from rather than running towards – life is complicated but finding out what you actually want is half the battle

  8. Holleygarden says:

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your sister. I am glad to hear that you’re beginning to yearn for the things that held your passion in the past. I hope this year you will have lots of time for your home, garden, and family. And that your seeds all germinate!

  9. Alison says:

    Thank you for such a thoughtful post. I hope the seed sowing goes well. Can’t wait to see how your garden develops this year.

  10. It takes time to get used to the idea of the loss of a loved one but in the end we learn to live with it and happiness returns. Growing your seeds, surrounding yourself with beauiful plants, will help. Looking forward to seeing the result.

  11. Anna says:

    Good to hear you sounding so positive about both your job and life in general Helen. You really have been through an emotional roller coster and now are slowly on the upward climb. I am smiling at the thought of that seed box which has to live on the floor ~ is it one that your talented son has crafted for you?

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Anna
      No the box is one of those large plastic storage boxes from Wilkinsons. Box is full and more seeds have arrived!

  12. Shirley says:

    Hi Helen, I get what you’re saying here. The time sounds right and your garden has waited patiently for your return. You are home – enjoy! Apologies for the lengthy email :-0

  13. Christina says:

    I was feeling very down when we had snow and I couldn’t get out, now I can work outside and I’m find so many tulips coming through; these aren’t new but planted in 2010 so I’m feeling much happier. Looking forward to hearing about the seeds too. Christina

  14. What a great post Helen – it seems that you have come through the dark time following your sisters death – and it does take time, lots of time.
    I shall look forward to seeing your garden reap the benefit of your renewed enthusiasm and seed sowing

  15. Jean says:

    Helen, It’s great to hear that you are coming out of the ordeal of your sister’s sudden death feeling more centered and grounded. When I was diagnosed with cancer 13 years ago, my doctor told me, “You’ll find that having cancer provides you with an opportunity to figure out what is important in your life.” He was so right! Having been lucky enough to survive the cancer (which had only a 20% five year survival rate), I found myself with a new sense of perspective and equanimity about life’s adversities.
    I hope you’ll share some of your paintings with us this year; I always enjoy seeing the fruits of your talent.

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Jean – you are right things like serious illness or a lose do make you reassess your prioities. Working on a hellebore painting now, still very early days but will show it when more to see

  16. Victoria says:

    That’s a very perceptive comment from Elaine. I think that’s part of why grief can be so exhausting – we do so many things so as not to face it. Helen, don’t ever feel that people would say: “Oh, here she goes again.” I’m sure they don’t. It’s incredibly helpful to read about someone coping with bereavement – and I know from personal experience that it’s a thing people don’t really talk about that much, not in writing, anyway.
    Grief is such a long journey, and so many people think they should put some sort of time limit on it. Thank you for talking about it. It feels as if you’ve passed some sort of milestone, and I’m so glad for you. xx

  17. hillwards says:

    Truly uplifting. I’m pleased that you are buoyed up once more with enthusiasm, and have found the things that are important to you. Look forward to watching your borders thrive this year.
    S x

  18. Losing someone we dearly loved is not really easy. Just like you, I loss my sister too 😦 But I’m happy that you’re starting to move on 🙂

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