Hopefulness

Week two of lockdown.

I made the mistake of looking at social media this morning – full of Jeremiahs quoting doom-ridden stats. I’m not sure  of the origin of what was being quoted and am realistic about the situation but what I need to get me through the next few weeks is hope …..and gardening.

So I planted some peas. A few sticks, a packet of Kelvedon Wonder, some homespun bird scarers fashioned from old CDs and string. The soil was well-worked so I used a hoe to create a shallow drill, sprinkled in the peas, covered them over, created a frame for them to scramble up et voila!. This is a perfect activity to do with your children. Mine are past the excitement of gardening but no doubt it will return to them in a few years – as indeed it did with me when we rented our first house and all those years of experience on the allotment with my dad kicked in.

The sweet peas have popped up nearby and the harbingers of high spring  – tulips, daffodils, cowslips, primroses, herbs have put in an appearance too.

I’d rather idle away an hour in the garden than on social media.

I have a yearning for wild garlic pesto and I know just the place to find some within a stone’s throw of home. That’s tomorrow’s job.

Summer 2019: A wander round the plot

I have to admit to being so exhausted at the end of term that once the GCSE examiner work was done and show week was over that I have done very little – except in the garden. Looking at my Twitter feed of teachers, the end of term zombie state is definitely ‘ a thing’. I have plenty to say about teaching in 2019 – where teachers give up their Saturdays willingly for collaborative training, where new mothers are embracing maternity CPD projects, where parents expect instant responses to emails about their children…..but this is for another time and another forum.

The garden remains my grounding place. I used to love it most in Autumn but now Spring is my favourite time – so lush, so burgeoning, so full of expectation. Summer is good too. It remains a work in progress – I don’t know a gardener who is content that all work is finished – EVER. There are beans, beetroot and strawberries to harvest, flowers to deadhead, weeding to be done, pruning to be done when plants have gone over and remodelling to be planned.

I’ve pictured the best of what’s on offer today.

The (not so) Secret Garden

I’ve been reading ‘The Secret Garden’ with my eight year old daughter of late. It’s one hundred years old this year and remains one of my favourite books. Amid the rambling roses and intoxicating lilies a troubled girl finds hope, her wheelchair-bound cousin learns to walk, and his father finds relief from the grief of widowhood. Above all it illustrates how working and playing outdoors can heal and restore. That bit is not so secret.

I’ve lost count of how many studies show that the outdoors remains the healthiest environment for children and adults. Gardening with children is one of the easiest ways to reap the benefits nature offers. Children with access to green outdoor spaces play more creatively and are better behaved. Gardening is a stress buster and children who garden eat more healthily, evidenced by the way the school strawberry patch and cut and come again salads are attacked by hungry little hands on a regular basis.

What is less documented is how caring for a garden can nourish the soul too. Gardening can be meditative and renewing for the spirit. For example, gardening with ex-servicemen has been a tremendous success as have projects like my own with sufferers of post-natal depression. And whilst much of my work with children in the garden is one of frantic activity and wild enthusiasm ,for children too, quiet time in the garden can be an antidote to all the noise and business of modern-day living.  

The garden offers a way for children and adults to recreate a connection with nature, which is essential to health. That connection to nature seems to be the magic potion which gardening offers.

A bit of garden therapy….

viburnum

Despite the mist and murk of the last couple of days, I have managed to do a bit of  pruning but I shall  chop back the buddleja to waist height next month and will wait for a dry day to tackle the wisteria. It’s going to pot and will involve  a long afternoon  up a tall ladder. I know I should have paid more attention to it last Autumn. Oh to be as organised as Alan (Titchmarsh) but we are only mortal. Talking of AT I notice in his monthly jobs list we are told at all costs to avoid walking on the lawn in February. (I presume his lawn does not substitute as rugby pitch during the Winter months!)

Oh well, I can dream of the days when the assistant gardener and I lay wooden planks over the perfectly manicured green sward on the February days when we  give the wheelbarrow a work out. Actually I have a little plan which involves experiments with grass seed. Until then I shall content myself with the postives of working in the garden in February.One of these is pictured above.

I love viburnum. It never lets you down and will grow anywhere irrespective of light levels and soil conditions. I’ve inherited at least one in every garden I’ve tended and have planted a few. They have a reputation of being granny’s plants but I don’t care. Seeing this one yesterday made me smile. I rescued it last year at an end of season plant sale. If it had been a rugby match it wouldn’t have made it onto the bench. And here it is sprouting some new leaves after enduring a foot of snow.

There’s plenty to be done. At last my seed potatoes have arrived in the post so there’s the chitting to be done by the apprentices. We use egg trays  from the cafe where my friend Emma works. For the first time we are experimenting with putting some in a paper bag with a ripe banana and hiding them away for a week to see what happens. This year we are going to grow our potatoes in containers – which works really well with children. I shall wax lyrical about this in a few weeks when we are ready to plant. Then I’ll be moving on to prepping the ground for my soon to arrive autumn fruiting raspberry canes – much better than Summer ones in my opinion, particularly when you consider the price of raspberries in the shops in the Autumn.

Gardening – it’s good for the body and the soul.

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