What’s in a Name?

Thinking - kinda!

Thinking – kinda!

I have alluded occasionally over the last few months, maybe longer, that I have been making plans, sorting things out.  I suspect some would try to label my mind-set at the moment as ’empty nest’.  I disagree but I do think I am at one of those moments in life when you feel that things could change.  I don’t mean I am at some sort of cross roads metaphorically, or in reality, or that I have had some sort of revelation.  No, it is more a feeling that I am entering a new phase of my life and that if I choose to I can change some things.

I think it is true to say that some of this could fall into the ’empty nest’ category as both my sons now work and the youngest will probably be relocating to Devon in the next month or so but I have been in that situation for a while and I don’t feel a need to fill any void.  I have for some years now been in a position where if I fancy doing thing and work and funds permit I do it.  My life is also quite full with a job that can be demanding and can have long days and I am involved with two horticultural groups, serving on the committee of both and then there is the blog and that’s where the block really is.

I have been writing this blog for around 8 years.  I love it but sometime, like now, it feel onerous.  I have tried walking away from it in the past but it is like turning your back on a really close friend.  They are after all rare and you never know when you really might need them so it is best to solider on through the less fun times.  Recently I have become somewhat obsessed with the stats and my position in a league table.  This is not good, it is in fact quite unhealthy and taps into my competitive streak which rears its ugly head from time to time.  I have been working hard on the blog, leaving comments on others, responding to comments, trying to keep the content regular etc but the key expression here is ‘working hard’.  Blogging shouldn’t be hard work, it shouldn’t be onerous, you shouldn’t do it just to come further up a league table than someone else.

Why should you blog?  One of those questions that each blogger will give you a different answer to. I have always said that I blog for myself but I love it when it engages with others and this is still true today.  This is why it doesn’t work when I am chasing stats etc.  But now I come to another stumbling block which has crept up on me over the last few months and relates to the sense of change I mention above.  My blog is entitled ‘The Patient Gardener’ but my interests are diversifying and I want to, and do, other things so why don’t I blog about them more?  Is the blog name too prescriptive, am I letting it block my thought process, am I over thinking this – probably! When I first started blogging I got excited when someone left a comment, I got excited to find a new gardening blog, or I saw a plant I hadn’t seen before – but familiarity breeds contempt, well not contempt as that might be going to far, but you know what I mean – and I have lost that thrill.

I love my garden, I enjoy ‘working’ in it but I am struggling to get enthusiastic about always blogging on this subject. I have been looking for something recently, I haven’t been sure what, but I have felt that something needs to change.  I have even looked at moving house but realised that I love my house and garden too much to move – the neighbours have put their house on the market this week and I had a quiet tentative cheer!    I have started walking and my interest in wildlife is returning.  Also having played around with different crafts I have found myself enthralled with embroidery again and getting absurdly excited when I find an embroidery blog, they are few and far between, and positively stroking the cover of the Inspirations magazine when it arrived from Australia full of projects and plans.  Whilst I am going on a garden visiting holiday this year, and I have been on them before, I don’t feel an overwhelming urge to go on more.  I love visiting gardens but there is so much more to the world and I want to see it.  I have a list of places and things I want to see and strangely there are few gardens featuring:

  • Cuba
  • Iceland including the Northern Lights
  • Highland and island to see Golden Eagle and Otters
  • Whale watching
  • Peru
  • Southern Italy
  • Sicily
  • Isles of Scilly
  • Costa Rica
  • Halong Bay
  • Anka Wot
  • China – the Terracotta Army and Forbidden City, as well as the rice fields
  • Petra
  • Istanbul

and that’s just off the top of my head.  I am in a position to start planning these trips so why not?  I have found some companies that do trips specifically for solo travellers, which aren’t aimed at people looking for partners and which don’t charge a single supplement.  I have two solo trips coming up over the next two months which will test how I get on.  This weekend I am off to the South Coast to visit West Dean Gardens, Great Dixter and Sissinghurst.  I am staying two nights on my own in a B&B so that will be the first challenge.  Then in July I am going on a trip to visit gardens in Ireland.  It is an organised trip but I have to find my own way to Dublin, not that hard I know, and it will be interesting to see how I get on spending a week with complete strangers but people who have a similar interest. I am feeling more content with life as though I have served my time over the last 20 something years bringing my sons up on my own, penny pinching, working hard and now its time to rediscover the things that really matter to me (aside from my sons of course!)

So what I think I am struggling with is sharing all of this on a blog which for the last 8 years has focussed on gardening and gardens.  I have tried having a separate blog for crafts but it was just too much.  Do I carry on with the same blog name or should I come up with a new one?  What would that be – The Whims of an Empty Nester – sounds a bit sad really! Or The Patient Gardener and other musings – too long? Or What Helen Did Next – sounds possibly more interesting than it might be? Would a new name attract new readers but also lose some of my regular readers? Would moving away from a niche mean that its harder to attract regular readers, build up the community of readers that I have been reading about today – does this matter? I don’t want to turn my back on writing about gardening I just want the blog to reflect my life better rather than one aspect of me and I am stuck on how this would work

 

 

Bloglovin

I have been in a bit of a blog black hole for a while and things have passed me by.  Finally, I have engaged with Bloglovin – only taken me a few days.  I will try to get a button on the side for people who like to follow blogs this way but for now I think I am supposed to post the following link to get the ball rolling.

 

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/2867834/?claim=amj48ncep4p”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – June 2015

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The colour theme for June seems to be very much purples and pinks with the odd splash of red and white, such as the Potentilla album above.  I have been more conscious in choosing plants that are within a colour palette to try to bring some cohesion to my garden.

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The roses are starting to flower.  This one is looking the best it has ever looked and is smothered in flowers.  I think it might be Rosa ‘Lucky’ but for the life of me I can’t remember where I bought it from or when. I deliberately didn’t prune my roses hard this year as I wanted them to be taller to add height to the border and with the exception of one which for some reason hasn’t produce any flowering stems it seems to have worked well.

Rosa Ophelia

Rosa Ophelia

The second one to flower is Ophelia which is a fuller flower and prone to being damaged when it rains or there is a strong wind.  It is beautiful and the scent is heavenly but I think I prefer the form of the top rose more.

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New to me this year is Cerinthe retorta which I have really fallen in love with.  I much prefer it to the normal Cerinthe major especially the white inner flowers.  I will definitely be collecting seed from these.

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My favourite Astrantia, again I seem to have lost the label, but the colour is just stunning.  It is bulking up slowly now so maybe next year I will be able to divide it.

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One of my many alliums – I get confused which is which but I do like the shape of the flowers on this variety as they open and I really need to add more to the garden.

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Iris louisiana which I adore.  It was new last year and I was completely bewitched but its iridescent blue flowers.  It lives in the damp corner of my patio which often floods and seems to enjoy the moisture.

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I am pretty certain this is Geum Totally Tangerine; a really good plant which has been flowering already for around 6 weeks and adds a sparkle of colour to the predominantly green foliage in the woodland border.

So these are my favourite flowers this month, the stars of the show.  For more Garden Bloggers Bloom Day posts pop over to Carol’s at May Dreams.

 

A Country Gardeners Day Out

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Stockton Bury is one of my favourite local gardens so the idea of a visit which also combined a country gardeners market with a range of local nurseries was an opportunity impossible to resist.  Luckily for all concerned the heavy and relentless rain we had yesterday was not present and in the morning the sun shone adding to the jolliness of the event.

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I realise now that I don’t have any photos of the actual market with nurseries.  I was so busy buying plants that I didn’t think to take photographs until I was walking around the garden.  The market was set up in the courtyard just beyond the main house above.  Although much smaller than some fairs I have been to the quality of the plants for sale was excellent and wide-ranging and there was a really friendly atmosphere.  It was really nice to bump into lots of people I know whether they were nursery men (or should I say ladies) or other visitors.  I really like buying plants this way as you often come across plants you wouldn’t find anywhere else and you can get lots of helpful advice.

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Despite the lack of people in my pictures there were quite a few looking around the garden and it seemed that many had never visited before which was excellent for the garden as hopefully they will visit again. I don’t think I have visited at this time of year before, I seem to always visit earlier in the year so I was quite surprised to see the borders so full and the plants so tall – silly I know.

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The pond at the far end of the garden had almost disappeared from view behind the foliage of the Gunnera and Lysichiton americanus. You can see how much by clicking on this link to my post about an April visit.   This is one of my favourite areas of the garden as I have a weakness for gunnera and also other moisture loving plants, maybe because I can’t grow them myself.

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The tree peonies which I have admired in previous years were going over and the roses were beginning to take the starring role.  I do like the vertical accents of the columns although this is maybe a little grand for my small garden!

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One of the things I always notice in this garden is the part the trees play. They add a nice canopy but without plunging the garden into deep shade. In some ways it is a good ploy to give you a range of environments from bright and open to more shady borders and this in turn extends the range of plants you can grow – always a good thing in my view.

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Finally my favourite – the bee boles.  I would love one of these if I had a bigger garden.  There is something quite romantic about them, maybe it’s because they hark back to how things used to be which always seems to be attractive, although I am sure the reality would be very different.

And yes I did buy plants, have I ever managed to resist.  I bought a Salvia amistad, a white siberian iris, Lathyrus rotundifolius, Bomarea salsilla, Liriope muscari okina and Dactylorhiza praetermissa.  Some of my purchases were bought for specific locations but I must admit to some whims so I spent time this afternoon wandering around the garden pondering where I could shoe-horn then in.

All in all a great day, and there was cake too.  I will definitely go again next year.

Rainy Day Flowers

 

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I have treated myself to a new camera  – a Canon EOS 100D.  It was bought on a whim which is unlike me as I normally labour over such investments but I am in that sort of mood at the moment and I had the funds so why not.  It is my very first DSLR and I am determined not to rely on the automatic settings but learn to use the functions properly.  The biggest stumbling block is that as soon as someone starts talking about aperture, shutter speed and exposure my mind goes blank, just like when I was learning fractions at school.  There is nothing there, just the sound of the wind whistling around the void!!  It is this reaction which has stopped me buying a DSLR for some years but I have decided to overcome this and get a grip.

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None of the photographs in this post have been taken on automatic, some are on manual and some are using macro and I am rather pleased so far.  I have done some research on line and I have found some information written in a non-techy way which is slowly beginning to make sense.  One of the bits of advice I read was that you can always improve a photo using photoshop or some other form of software.  The camera comes with software which I have uploaded on my laptop but the editing in these images was done using the simple photo editing software that comes on my laptop and I am rather pleased.

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My youngest, the design whiz, has been showing me how to tweak the colour intensity etc and applied some cropping to the photos.  He did the allium and I did the other two.

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Then we really messed around and turned the cat into a tiger.  She thinks she is a tiger so we made her more orange.  She is roaring as she doesn’t like the sound of my new camera especially as it has been pointed at her so much!!

Crewel progress 2

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I think it has been two months since I have shown you progress on my crewel work project, how time flies.  I have this evening finished the first motif – well I still have some beads to add to the two tendrils to finish them but I am waiting on a delivery of beads.

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I hadn’t really taken on board how many beads there are in the project.  If you look at this close up (sorry I struggled to get it in focus) you can see the range and number of beads.  You can also see my irregular stitches and slightly wonky shapes.  I did spend some time beating myself up about this as it isn’t perfect.

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However I have reminded myself that I haven’t done bead-work before or even many of the crewel work stitches; plus the pattern didn’t transfer very well so I am having to draw in some of it which has upset me.  I also have been reminding myself that the pictures above are blown up and few people’s eyesight would be able to see all my imperfections.  It reminds me of when I did botanical illustration where you are peering closely at your work thinking this is rubbish but then you stand up and step back and actually from a normal viewing distance it looks alright.

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So I am off to start the next motif now which is a sort of pomegranate and starts with instructions for a stitch I have no idea about!  This motif only has 1 page of instructions unlike the one I have just finished which had 4 so should be simple – I doubt it!  The pencil in the photo above indicates the left hand end of the overall design and it goes as far the other way so you can see how much I have to do.

I am enjoying it though as you can break it down into small elements which in themselves are satisfying to complete.