Sometimes you have to walk away…..

… order to see something with fresh eyes and a new purpose and this is exactly where I am with my garden and this blog.

The persistent reader will have noticed that I haven’t written a blog post since last summer and to be honest the fact that you are checking in now is a credit to you and not to me – so thank you.

I did write a long post about all the recent trials and tribulations which lead to my lack of blogging but amongst those trials and tribulations was missing the renewal of my subscription to wordpress.  Which in turn meant that I lost my storage plan, which is now no longer available and so I have had to remove a significant amount of photos from the older posts and take out a new plan.  I wasn’t going to bother but my perverse nature means I was cross at being thwarted in my attempts to start blogging again so I have over the last week or so sorted this out.  However, the long blog post was lost so you, dear reader, have been saved from the effort of reading that.

The real driver for coming back to the blog is that I am finally beginning to enjoy my garden again. A whole host of things have affected this for probably 3-4 years but back at the start of winter something changed and I found myself tidying up with a new interest and purpose and plans have been forming.  Nothing grand or ambitious, quite plans which reflect where I am now mentally with my garden and its importance to me.

Whilst I may have not undertaken that much actual physical gardening over the last couple of years I have done a lot of looking, not just at my garden but at other gardens whilst out and about and I think I am finally working out what I really like.  One of the problems with the wealth of information that is now available to us on the internet is that you can be overwhelmed with ideas and thoughts and you loose sight of what matters to you.  Since I started blogging in 2008 my interests and priorities have been through a number of iterations.  I have dabbled in numerous horticultural interests including alpines, plant showing, photography, propagation of all types, writing, even a monthly radio spot and far too much horticultural therapy.

Now I have reached a place where I feel the relevance of my garden to me no longer dominates my spare time, it is compatible to my other interests not fighting them and there is a better balance in my life which is better for my mental health.  Gardening is a part of who I am, it no longer defines who I am.

Going forward I expect to blog weekly or bi-weekly and the blog posts will probably be about whatever seems interesting to me when I’m in the garden or maybe from other gardens I visit during the year.  I hope you enjoy the new more relaxed and personal approach and thank you again for dropping by.


A Love Letter to Gardeners

Sometimes the smallest thing can transform your day.  Receiving an email from Lawnstarter this morning telling me that I had received a golden trowel award and was in their list of top 70 garden blogs was great but what really made my day was how they described my blog:

“The Patient Gardener is a love letter to gardeners”

I love that, it actually made me a little emotional.  I have always treated my blog as a personal log, after all thats where the term blog comes from weblog.  I write as I talk and edit spareingly.  I think that gives my writing a real voice.  I suppose my writing style is very influenced by having studying Virgina Wolf and loving her ‘stream of consciousness’ style.

Lawnstarter judge their blogs on five criteria:

  • Gardening knowledge
  • Quality and consistency of writing
  • New gardening topic or approaches
  • Memorable voice or personality
  • Presence on google and social media outlets.

Interestingly, I don’t recognise many of the blogs – it just shows I haven’t been as engaged as maybe I should – but its great  to see blogging friends Dee, Helen and Sarah,  Jean, Gerhard and Pam in the mix.

I’m even more pleased as whilst I have blogged more than last year, I am nowhere near as proflic as I used to be, but this might just give me the impetus to write a little more – its nice to be appreciated.

Out with the old and in with the new

In the spirit of Janus, the Roman god that January is named after, I am looking back at the last year and forward into 2018.  Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings and I feel quite acutely that I am at some sort of crossroads in life although I can’t quite define what it is.

I have been thinking of 2017 as not having been a great year for me.  Not because anything awful or significant happened but because I went through some sort of change or personal crisis.  In retrospect I think the lack of a major crisis and because I has a new certainty about my job there was a void in my life, as awful as that may seem.  The void meant that all those things I needed to deal with mentally caught up with me. There is even speculation that I tried to create crisis and uncertainty in my life to fill the void by planning to move and I suspect there is some truth in that.  It is easier to be busy with something important or to blame uncertainty about something than to simply confront and process difficult things.

I have really missed my Dad this year and I have struggled to come to terms with various overwhelming feelings of being responsible for everyone – especially my mother.  She would be so cross if she read this as she is independent and doesn’t need me to look after her but having lost both my sister and my Dad in recent years it has really felt like the buck stopped with me. I became so resentful of a situation that I alone had created. Interestingly, the proposed house move whilst a mistake allowed me to realise what was important to me and to work though some of my grief at loosing my Dad 3 years ago.  He wasn’t there to advise me on whether or not to buy a house which has had subsidence or had cladding – he just wasn’t there and it really hurt.

But I have slowly processed things not in any sort of formal way, although I did nearly seek out a counsellor, but just through being kind to myself.  I have finally in the last week relinquished the last of my committee responsibilities for the various groups I attend.  I also closed my account on Twitter earlier in the year as I find it has become an echo chamber for views that I don’t share or just wasn’t interested in.  I also, as you may have noticed, took a break from blogging.  This wasn’t even really a conscious decision I just couldn’t think what to write – I think I was completely exhausted and my garden suffered as I thought I was moving and so disengaged with it. Stepping away from social media (aside from my instagram account that I use for textiles) has given me head room to think and heal.

I am an optimist and a survivor and have always found a way to deal with whatever life has thrown at me. Putting the montage together for the top of this post has reminded me of so many good things that happened in 2017.  I truly embraced my creativity and took the plunge and signed up for an embroidery design course with the Embroiderers Guild.  I completed Level 1 in November and got a distinction, I have this week started Level 2. Whilst I am over the moon at getting the distinction the best thing about the course was that it unlocked something deep inside me and allowed me to embrace my creativity properly. I have always been someone who knitted, sewed, embroidered, whatever but always other people’s designs.  I was too frightened of failure to go it alone – not any more.  I have found some much needed confidence which has been reinforced by the wonderful ladies at my local Embroiderers Guild.  They don’t realise what a real life saver they have been to me this year.

Work has settled down; my role was confirmed late in 2016 and whilst I can’t remember what my comfort zone looks like I have enjoyed the challenges that have been presented to me.  I have grown as a person, learnt lots about interacting with people and have delivered a number of projects successfully. I still have a long way to go but finally I have a job that is taking me forward, that challenges me and gives me a reason to get up in the morning – even when I have lost sleep fretting about some aspect of it.

Life at home changed in 2017.  My youngest who moved out some two years ago got engaged and they bought their first house but only 30 minutes away.  There is no date for the wedding yet, probably in 2 years time, but it will be exciting to help them plan their big day.  My eldest son who lives at home discovered the wider world and the delights of travelling to new places.  He spent just under 3 weeks in Iceland volunteering at a huge international scouting event, made loads of new friends and has more overseas trips planned for 2018 and beyond.  This has meant he is away from home probably more than he is here which was strange for a while as I am used to him being around.  However, I have slowly got used to solo weekends and now delight in them.  I can potter around in my own time, eat what I want, when I want, go where I want etc.  It has helped me start to discover who I am aside from a mother and someone who works at the local university and writes a blog!

So in the spirit of Janus and new beginnings what will 2018 bring?  I’m not one for new year’s resolutions as they just make you feel like you have failed but here are some things which I know will happen in 2018:

  • I’m off on my travels – this time to Austin, Texas to attend a garden bloggers event.  I went to the San Fransico one some years back and loved it and wished I had been to more.  2018 is the year I do it.
  • I’m also off to Somerset garden visiting with a group of friends who I have been away with for the last two years. Plus I am going to Newcastle in April to the national Quilters Guild conference – oh I didn’t mention that I took up quilting in 2017 and finished piecing my first quilt last week.
  • I will complete Level 2 of my embroidery design course and who knows I might even sign up for the final level 3 course.
  • I plan to try to go gluten-free.  I started to drop gluten out of my diet in 2016 and found I felt loads better but I haven’t successfully cut it out completely yet.
  • I need to walk more.  I haven’t been on my beloved hills anywhere as often as I did in 2016 and that needs to change – they are good for my soul
  • I’m going to redecorate my bedroom – new furniture, carpets everything.
  • I plan to do more blogging but not just about my garden, about whatever as its my blog, my journal so it’s up to me what it’s about but I hope you will enjoy it.  Oh and I plan to start hosting the End of Month meme again – after creating the meme some 8 or more years ago I need to look after it.

I hope you have things to look forward to in 2018 and that it will be kind to you and yours and thank you for reading and supporting my blog – it means a lot to me.

Still here

So a while back I posted that I was expecting to be moving, on to pastures new and especially a new garden. I found it a hard post to write and was very emotionally as I walked round the garden taking my final photos. This promoted a niggle, called Uncertainty, to take up residence at the back of my mind, was this the right decision?

While this niggle was setting up camp, another called Doubt, asserted its presence leading to sleepless nights and anxiety about whether the Cottage that had started the whole house moving idea off was the right house for us? Yes it looked out at fields, but those fields rose up from the house and as it was pointed out I would no longer see my beloved hills. I hadn’t realised how much the hills meant to me until that point, I felt quite bereft. Yes the garden was bigger, longer and had a brook – the stuff of dream, maybe, but I just couldn’t see me in the garden. I’m a very visual person and have to be able to see how a room or part of the garden will look before I can make changes, whenever I try to short cut this process the result is just wrong. The only part I could visualise was the other side of the brook which wasn’t part of the deal. Yes it was a Cottage but the space was no bigger than  our current home and whilst we don’t need space, and indeed in a few years it will only be me and the cat, something was jarring at how much more I would be paying on the mortgage a month for a house that wasn’t any bigger and needed so much work. And that was the crunch point, it did need work and there wasn’t scope to make big changes due to the fall of the land, trust me, and then the words ‘subsidence’ and ‘underpinning’ were mentioned and that’s when Doubt and Uncertainty threw an all nighter.

So I pulled out of the move, sent Doubt and Uncertainty packing and slept like a log. At times like this I really appreciate the support of my family. The advice from my sons and my mother was wise and measured, they empowered me to stop the process of buying a house just because it felt wrong, a step that really surprised some of my work colleagues.

And I have no regrets. When I bought this house the intention was to stay here until the boys left school, they are now in their twenties. Firstly I couldn’t afford to move, then there was uncertainty about my job and what my new salary would be and then it was all sorted and I suppose I felt obliged to move. But finding myself faced with moving I realised that this house is home, the only house that has ever felt like home. Yes I have found my neighbours clearing their garden challenging but my shrubs are growing and they seem to be nice people, better the devil you know and all that.

My eldest suggested that if I was planning to stay for the foreseeable then I should view the house as if I had just moved in and think about what I would change.  After all, when I bought the house 13 years ago, it was as a home for myself and my sons.  Now it is the case that it is mainly a home for myself, and the cat, with my eldest here about 50% of the time so we use the house differently and there is potential to change the space.  We have already made a start with a new sewing room from my youngest’s now vacated bedroom.

In terms of the garden I am seeing it with fresh eyes.  Having more or less taken a year out of gardening and blogging I am coming back to both from a new perspective.  The garden had stopped providing me with a creative outlet and stress relief, in fact the garden and blogging were making me more stressed. They seemed to be inextricably entwined and just impossible.

I stopped blogging, reading blogs and really engaging with anything horticultural and this has freed up my mind which was crammed with so many ideas, many of them conflicting.  I have realised that my real love is foliage, the bigger the better, and some specific flowers mainly from bulbs.  As I have neglected the garden there is lots of tidying up to do, which I enjoy, and with my fresh eyes I am planning some changes – nothing major – just better.

So who knows you may find the odd blog post popping up from me over the coming months as I have fresh things to share.

An Award


How jolly my blog has been included in the top 50 gardening blogs of 2016 by  I am really pleased as the list includes lots of my long term blogging friends especially from the USA.

If you are looking for some new gardening blogs to read you can go far wrong by checking out the blogs on the list


Aspirations for 2017

img_9024I have resolutely avoided blogging about New Year resolutions. I am a great believer in doing rather than saying and it is easy to say I will do this or that but actually carrying it out is another thing.  I am also one of those people who easily feels a strong sense of failure if I say I will do something and then I don’t so I have become very wary about putting my head above the parapet and making rash declarations.

However, I do have aspirations and hopes for the coming year.  As many will know I have been through somewhat of an internal struggle with life over the last year or so, struggling with work, what to do in the garden, what to do with the blog, the list goes on.  There is probably a lot of over thinking taking place but I have concluded this morning, having listened to a seemingly very relevant ‘Thought for the Day’ on Radio 4 that I need some sort of direction in order to try to channel all my frustrations and feel that I am actually achieving or changing or developing something positive.  The thought behind the ‘Thought for the Day’ was about being the best person you can be.  An interesting idea which sounds very obvious unless you are me.  I have spent most of my life aspiring to be really good at something. Throughout my school-days I was always average, middle of the road  which is fine but it seems I have a deep-seated competitive streak so I felt frustrated that I couldn’t be top of the class in something no matter how hard I tried, I was always a B and never an A.

This quiet irritation has continued throughout my life along with a sense of needing to justify my existence.  When I was at home with my young children the house was always spotless and the children immaculate as I felt I had to prove something.  I am super efficient at work and the Queen of multi-tasking again constantly in need to prove something although I’m not actually sure what that is anymore and who I am trying to impress.

Recently something, albeit small, has relaxed in me and this Christmas instead of redecorating a room in the house as I have done between Christmas and New Year for years  I just pottered and I have to admit I feel much better for it and apparently I look more relaxed.  But there is still that niggling voice in the back of my mind telling me I should be trying harder at this or that so I have decided to set myself some aspirations or objectives for 2017 to focus my energies and to quieten the niggly voice.  I don’t want them to be aspirational in the sense of being hard to achieve, what I really want is a way to allow myself to not worry so much and to actually enjoy things but still trying to be the best person I can be but for my own benefit rather than to prove something to someone.

So some of the things I am hoping to make a regular feature of my life this year or to learn to do better are as follows:

  • Photography – buying my first SLR a couple of years ago was a revelation.  I procrastinated for ages about getting one convincing myself that my simple point and click was fine and I would never get off auto-focus.  I now use some of the macro settings but I want to understand how to improve my photographs more particularly close-ups of plants and flowers and how to frame a landscape view better.  To this end I am thinking on attending a short photography workshop or participating in an on-line course.  I am also going to try to do a weekly photography meme.  I have participated in Wordless Wednesday for years and have dabbled in WordPress’s own weekly photograph challenge (see the last post) but I am thinking of participating in one hosted by another blogger this year (see Blogging below)
  • Walking – I have loved my walks on the Malvern Hills this year.  I think the key was not to set myself specific targets to achieve or dates to do things by as I just rebel against those.  Instead I have got into a habit of just setting off on a Sunday morning when the mood takes me.  I would like to extend the length of my walks and start to explore new places so I am toying with doing some of the Herefordshire Trail circular walks.
  • Sewing – again building on joining the Teme Valley Embroiders Guild last year I want to make sewing more of my life.  I used to sew loads in my late teens and when the boys were small but for some reason it petered out and I lost my confidence, particularly in dressmaking.  I am participating in the 1 year of stitches project in which you try to do a little embroidery every day and post a picture on social media.  I am hoping that it will help me unlock my more creative side rather than religiously following kit instructions; who knows I may even get brave enough to try dressmaking again.
  • Blogging – this is my real struggling point.  I oscillate between wanting my blog to be amazing to win prizes etc and to just wanting to engage with a great community.  I think I have worried too much in recent times about the quality of the writing or the photographs and am in danger of losing the identity the blog had early on which I was proud of.  For me this is going to be the hardest step change as I need to make a mental commitment to enjoying the blog for what it is and using it to engage with and be part of the wonderful blogging community that is out there.  To this end I am going to try very hard to comment more on others blogs and to engage with a couple of memes i.e. In a Vase on Mondays and  a Weekly Photograph Challenge.  As I said under photography I could do the wordpress photo challenge but I like the idea of supporting someone else’s meme just as others have supported my End of Month meme.
  • Gardening – I need and want to engage with my garden more and not feel daunted by it.  I think last year one of the reasons I struggled was the uncertainty of the new neighbours and trying to adapt to the subsequent clearing of boundaries and feeling exposed.  I have, I think, talked myself into a good place in terms of this and can see lots of positives and am busy thinking about what new planting opportunities this gives me. I want to visit more gardens this year, when I did a review of the year I was amazed at just how few gardens I had visited apart from on holiday so I am going to try to visit something most months.  And more importantly I am going to try to visit those gardens with a view to looking carefully at planting, not necessarily in a plant addict way, but to try to learn how to combine plants and create interesting borders.

So these are my personal aspirations or objectives call them what you will, for 2017.  They have no measures or specific goals attached to them but are more about changing my attitude to how I live my life in a gentle way which should bring me a better sense of inner calm and well-being.




A look back at 2016 & hopes for 2017

2016 has been one of those weird years full of changes and challenges – both personal and more broadly.  I pondered last night whether I should write this post in the bubble of my blog world or whether I should comment on the sense of unease which seems to be pervading the world at large.  I’ve never felt a need to comment on wider issues when I do my annual review post before and generally I keep my views, political or otherwise, to myself as this isn’t in my opinion the right forum.

However, it just feels wrong this year not to comment on the rise of the populist voice causing huge shift changes in the political picture of the UK and USA in particular with commentators wondering if there will be similar experiences in Europe as various countries vote in elections.  Then there are the issues in the Middle East with unease about Russia and Turkey’s roles.  I have encountered some people in the last week that feel that 2017 will be exciting due to all the changes that are happening; exciting is fine as long as it’s for the right reason.  Personally, I would like 2017 to be a quiet year and I am hoping that the ceasefire and peace negotiations which have just been announced today in Syria are more successful than previous cease fires and all the people affected are given a chance to rebuild their lives

2016, whilst challenging from a work perspective, on reflection has been a good year.  I have seen some amazing places particularly during my trip to Japan in November. However, many of my favourite memories are closer to home and relate to events I have attended with my sons. In April we went to the inaugural Bromsgrove Festival of Speed which was a huge amount of fun and that month we also spent an evening on top of the Malvern Hills witnessing the lighting of the beacon to commemorate the Queen’s 90th Birthday. Gardens, unsurprisingly have featured in my memories of 2016. June was a particularly floriferous month due to a trip to Essex and North Suffolk with the Hardy Plant Society where we visited so many wonderful gardens that it was hard to decide which image to choose to represent them. Horticultural shows have also featured most of them local but also the RHS Chelsea Show where I was lucky enough to attend on the Monday as an RHS Committee member. My photos of 2016 start and end with the Malvern Hills which have taken on a new significance in my life as I have discovered a love of exploring them.

For 2017, as I said in my last post, I am hoping that my job will settle down but in the meantime I have already put a number of activities and events in my diary which reflect my broader range of interests some of them garden related, some embroidery, some family and some travel; many of them will I hope involve meeting up with friends.
I am linking this post to the Discover WordPress Challenge – Retrospective

Going state-side 2017


I’m rather thrilled that I have registered this weekend to attend the 2017 Garden Bloggers Fling which will be hosted in the Capital Region of the US.

I loved the 2013 GB Fling in San Francisco and made lots of new friends, who I am still in touch with and who are, wonderfully, also going in 2017.  It also opened my eyes to different gardening styles and plants that I wouldn’t normally encounter here in the UK. I came home inspired and enthused and to a degree liberated from UK traditional gardening approaches.

Places are limited but if you are a garden blogger and fancy meeting up with lots of other garden bloggers for 3.5 days of intense garden visiting then check out the website.  I’m planning on extending my stay to at least 7 days so I can take in some of the Washington DC sights as well.


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.



If we were having tea


If we were having tea right now there would of course be cake.  On a damp cold Saturday afternoon there needs to be afternoon tea with some treat.  My preference today would be a gooey Belgian Chocolate choux bun from my favourite local supermarket full of unctuous cream which squidgies out the sides as you bite into it

If we were having tea right now I would be telling you that I haven’t blogged for a week.  Now this might not sound that strange to you but I have been blogging at least 3 times a week since I started the blog 8 years ago, in fact 8 years on the 20th of this month.  The only times I have missed posting have been when I have been away.  But what is really strange, and also very liberating, is that I am OK with not having blogged which is a new phenomenon for me.  I have often told people that blogging had become a sort of habit, almost an addiction, and I couldn’t imagine not blogging.  I used to spend my time wondering what to write about and at its worse I used to go places just so I had something to blog about.  I know I am writing a post now but it’s because I wanted to share a few things and because I wanted something to do to justify not doing anything else on a wet afternoon!

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If we were having tea right now I would tell you how thrilled I was to receive my RHS Committee card in the post today. I am the recorder for the Symphyotrichum trial (that’s Asters to you and me).  The trial will last for three years and is being held just up the road from me at my friend Helen Picton’s nursery (Old Court Nursery). I am hoping to learn lots from the nurserymen and other experts involved in the trial.

If we were having tea right now I would tell you how I had spent the morning with  my mother at a stonemasons choosing a headstone for my sister’s grave.  She died in 2009 and her grave is marked by a wooden cross but now my brother-in-law has agreed to a more permanent marker and my Mum is on a mission to get it sorted and crossed off her bucket list.  It’s a strange thing choosing a headstone suddenly the smallest thing becomes incredibly important; what type of stone, how big, what design, what should it say.  This is something you only do once and you want it to be right.  My mother asks me “do you think your sister would like that stone”?  I want to answer “does it matter?”, but you stop yourself as it is important to my mother so you have these strange conversations about what someone who hasn’t been with us for 6 years would think.


If we were having tea right now I would tell you that what I am really enjoying at the moment, instead of blogging, is my new cross stitch kit.  It was a Christmas present from my sons and has a lovely oriental feel about it.  I am currently working on the small bird and what you can see makes up about one fifth of the overall design – there are an awful lot of leaves and some big orange flowers which I have yet to identify.

If we were having tea right now I would tell you that unusually for me I have really retreated indoors and am struggling to engage with the garden at all even when it comes to ordering seeds etc.  I have decided I need to grow an ivy up the side of the house and I want to use the border along the front beech hedge for my ever expanding collection of ferns but ask me is I am going to grow dahlias, or cosmos or in fact anything from seed this year I will shrug and point at  a pile of seed catalogues with lots of ticks on them but no real decisions. But its January and there is plenty of time and maybe when the sun decides to reappear I will feel a little more inspired.  In the meantime I am relaxing and recharging, which is great.