There’s more to the life than gardening (and blogging)


I was surprised to discover today that it is 17 days since I last posted a post on this blog and even more surprising for someone who has posted 3 times a week for at least 9 years is the fact that I haven’t missed posting nor have I even thought about it.  I didn’t even share with you the photo of my blue meconopsis poppy, grown from seed, which flowered this year with half a dozen flowers nor did I ever get around to blogging about all the gardens I visited in Suffolk or my visit to Croome Park last weekend.  Something has changed in me not just in terms of blogging but in other aspects of my life and it is for the better I think.

Anyone who has read this blog for a while particularly over the last 18 months will know that my job has changed and this past 18 months has been quite unsettling for me as I step up to a much more responsible role with a huge feeling of needing to prove myself.  It has taken its toll on me at times emotionally and physically but recently a new phase seems to have started – maybe I feel more assured in my role, maybe its not as scary and new – whatever it is I am now sleeping better and I don’t feel so stressed which can be no bad thing.


One of my coping mechanisms in recent weeks, which I think has helped enormously, is walking.  Most evenings I go out after dinner for a walk, to the adjacent common or sometimes on the hills.  And it has made a huge difference particularly to someone who spends so much of the day at a desk or in meetings.  The local common is a wonderful place to walk as the grass is allowed to grow tall with just some paths mown through it and you can just loose yourself and let your mind drift; then on my return home I embroider.  In a strange way the compulsion I used to feel to garden in order to de-stress has been relocated to walking and sewing. I am sure that some of this relates to my new neighbours clearing the fence line and reducing my privacy.  I have tried to employ my usual Pollyanna approach to this saying it will be fine but I am struggling with it and we are looking at ways of addressing it – I’m even toying with moving house!  But I also think that the garden isn’t fulfilling my need for creativity any more.  I have basically run out of spaces to dig up.


I have nearly finished the revamp of the front garden and just need to put the path in.  I say ‘just’ but this actually means laying a brick edge hence the delay while I work through all the excuses why I can’t do it this weekend or the next until I decide to just get on with it and stop procrastinating.  I will have to post about it soon as I am rather pleased with how it is looking in its first year but I am waiting for some of the asters to flower to give it colour before I do.

There is nothing new to do in the back garden aside from day to day maintenance which I have been doing as and when but I have to make myself garden these days.  This morning I made myself deal with the dead rose blooms I could see and of course once I was outside I spent a satisfying couple of hours dead heading, cutting the grass path and re-engaging with the garden.  I was thrilled to discover some banana seeds had germinated in the greenhouse, that a wren appeared to be nesting in the old bird box and that the fig tree I had brutally pruned a couple of weeks ago, when I rediscovered it under the triffid branches of the Geranium palmatum, was covered in lots of new emerging shoots.


Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy my garden but not in the compulsive obsessive way I used to.  I don’t drool over the bulb catalogues any more instead that bad habit has been transferred to sewing magazines.  I don’t have a desire to spend every minute of my spare time in the garden, visiting a garden or at a garden club – instead I am a more rounded person which can only be a good thing.  Whilst I enjoyed my trip last month looking at gardens in Suffolk I would have liked to have had the opportunity to visit Gainsborough’s birthplace museum which was just near our hotel but always shut by the time we returned and I have recently developed an interest in the Northern Renaissance artists which may influence my holiday choices next year.

My family and friends think I have moved to a better place and that the real me is finally emerging.  Expressions like ‘you have blossomed’, ‘you have grown’ etc are being used and I think they are right.  I will always love my garden, whether its this one or a new one, but I don’t now need to rely on it to justify who I am, to prove I can achieve something and I don’t need to blog relentlessly any more to satisfy my need to mental stimulation and desire to connect with others.


This new phase, with adult children and a demanding but rewarding job, means that I have the time, funds and courage to embrace interests I used to have many years ago.  I want to travel more, maybe I will have a go at gliding again, I want to get fitter, I want to expand my sewing and embroidery abilities, I want to see art, I’m going to go canoeing for the first time and if I loose some weight along the way I will be thrilled.

There will be blog posts but probably more as and when and I have started a new blog to record my sewing journey and to connect to other sewers but I don’t know how successful that will be as to be honest I am actively trying to avoid looking at screens when I’m not at work but we shall see and that’s the key change instead of setting myself mad targets and schedules, looking for things to blog about, I have moved to a more relaxed ‘lets see’ approach and I am comfortable with it.  So ‘lets see’ what the future brings – I may paint the spare room or I may read a book this afternoon, it doesn’t matter.



Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

15 thoughts on “There’s more to the life than gardening (and blogging)”

  1. Helen – So good that you are in a better place but please don’t give up the blog altogether. You have kept others going! During my own dark times one of my ongoing pleasures has been to read the gardening blogs of others in order to keep an interest in gardening, however small. I have so much enjoyed reading about your own journey – it has been inspirational to me – and loved the beautiful photographs that you take. Interestingly I still need the ‘places’ to keep me going, although I too am feeling more at peace with myself and the world. I have re-kindled my own love of knitting along the way! I wish you continuing success.

  2. Gardening and blogging should be a joy, not a chore. Do them as you can – and we’ll be here looking forward to anything you care to share.

  3. I can relate completely. And I agree with Ogee, this should be a pleasure not another job to do. I’m very sporadic on my posts as life is loaded with tasks and distractions.

    In other news, when I switched over to self hosting, I lost all my WordPress subscribers 😦

    If you were one of them, would you mind re-subscribing? It’s so cold and dark and lonely here now… Sniff sniff.

  4. I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs, and of course we can look back and read previous ones too. Do enjoy whatever you are interested in. Let us know the name of your sewing and other interests blog…

  5. Thanks Helen for an update of your garden. Must say I would’ve loved a photo of the blue poppy. Something that doesn’t grow in Auckland – needs some cold. I just love the colour when I see photos. Looking forward to seeing your front garden some time. Your established garden looking lovely. What I like about your garden is the seasonal changes – from almost bare in winter to lush in summer. So different than ours as sub-tropical and mainly lush all year. Tho’ my splashes of colour, annuals and bulbs I love. Enjoy you evening walks. xx

  6. Good on you, Helen, I was very happy to read this posting. In a completely different way, I’m in a similar position, a 9-year garden blogger who started roughly at the same time as you, and I haven’t posted anything since May. While slowing down on blogging, gardening goes on and, sometimes, a new set of interests is the simple cause of the blogging hiatus. As all your postings pop up in my email inbox I’ll keep on looking forward to your next update, but at least I know that a long silence is probably very good news.

    1. Hi Jamie
      I remember us starting around the same time. I think there just comes a point when something isn’t as important as it used to be and I think that is healthy as it means we are exploring and discovering new interests

  7. Whatever direction you decide to follow Helen you can be justly proud of your achievements, one of which is the pleasure your writing has brought to many of us. Along with this of course is your beautiful garden, the recording of which has also brought much pleasure to your readers.

  8. Having just read your blog, there is no mystery about the unsettled feeling re the garden. Our gardens are our own creations – to have someone change any part of it throws us off. The removal of the fence and consequent sense of intrusion is huge. No wonder you want to move!

    I am glad the rest of your world is more stable and that you are expanding into embroidery. Sewing in any form is a tranquil and self absorbing exercise. I retreat in various ways, but embroidery is one of them.
    Enjoy it all. I love your blog and beautiful photographs so will still look forward to your work. Thank you.

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.

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