Clearing the clutter

Sarah Raven has a nice line in twigs and indoor bulbs . Perfect for January.

Once the Christmas decorations have been taken down isn’t there always an urge to clear the clutter, spring clean and look ahead to more streamlined ways of living?

I’ve spent time over the last week archiving emails, popping donations to the charity shop into cardboard boxes and thinking about doing some pruning in the garden, once the storm abates.

I admit to being much more ruthless than the rest of my family about clearing clutter, having discovered that it REALLY IS GOOD for my mental wellbeing. But human nature is to hang on to precious things. The trouble is some things become anything but precious when they prevent you from moving on. You end up clinging on to things that are no longer helpful and indeed may be harmful to your growth and ability to thrive. Clinging onto the past can stop you embracing new opportunities in the future.

My mate Sara emailed me last week about what to do with the dormant Our Flower Patch website. A few years ago, when our children were younger, when Sara had started her British cut flower business and when I was away from the classroom writing learning materials we combined to set up a small business. Our Flower Patch was a learning programme for primary school and prep schools. Essentially we supported schools to set up a mini-enterprise in the school garden. It got children and teachers outside, actively learning aspects of the National Curriculum in a real context.

We worked hard on making the programme fun, educational and accessible. I am so proud of what we achieved but as our own children got older our priorities changed. Sara’s flower growing business has expanded and I have returned to a secondary school context. Our Flower Patch went onto the back burner but we kept our blog with its hints and tips for gardening with children and Sara’s beautiful pictures. I didn’t want to let go of it – like a beautiful dress at the back of your wardrobe that made you feel awesome but no longer fits. It’s not taking up too much room; you might slim back into it one day; you hope that by wearing it again you’ll rekindle that feeling of awesomeness.

Yet its time has gone. Accept it. You need to find awesomeness in something new and keep it as a happy memory of past times. Reclaim the space and start filling it with new things. For Sara that means developing her online presence; for me it’s fuelling all my energies into a new learning programme at school. I’ll be blogging about this during the course of the year.

What’s taking up room in your life that’s preventing you from moving on?

 

Thoughts of spring on dark days

Seed catalogues  have been landing on the doormat daily since just before Christmas – such temptation. The pull of spring ought not to be ignored but, for a teacher, seed orders need to be completed before the start of term tomorrow – or they won’t happen until February half term. This year, with no allotment I need to rein myself in so I’ve gone for some veg, a few cut flowers and a handful of new dahlias. Unusually I’m going to sow cut flowers meadow style in one of the beds. This is mega easy provided that you prepare the bed thoroughly and ensure you’ve eradicated all the weeds. I’m fairly confident because I’ve worked the bed for a couple of years now. I’ll cover the bed with black plastic in spring to encourage any annual weeds to germinate once the narcissi have been harvested, then how them off before broadcast sowing.

I have a few seeds from last year in my tin but I ‘ve ordered dahlias from Peter Nyssen, veg from Real Seeds and cut flowers from Higgledy Garden and Sarah Raven, the latter is expensive but germination rates are good.

Garden 2019 veg and flower order

Agapanthus Midnight Blue, Agapanthus Polar Ice,  Agapanthus Twister, Brodiaea Hyacinthina (Triteleia), Caryopteris Dark Night, Crocosmia Carmine Brilliant

Dahlias  – Ariko Zsaza,  Black Jack, Blue Boy, Art Deco, Art Fair, Happy Halloween, Jescot Julie, and Karma Naomi

Helianthus annuus ‘Sonja’, and  ‘Claret’, Lupin hartwegii mix, Papaver somniferum ‘Dark Plum’, Cobaea scandens, Cottage Garden Mix 6g seed, Country Lane Mix 10g of pure wildflower seed

Edamame Bean, Beetroot ‘Chioggia’, Chilli ‘Hungarian Hot Wax’, Kale ‘Curly Scarlet’ Kale, Spinach ‘Perpetual’, Spinach ‘Medania’, Organic Lettuce Seed Collection, Mustard wasabi, Salad Rocket ‘Serrata’

Bonfires and clutter clearing


Emily Dickinson reflected that the passing from one year into another is a time to reflect on “how many things we have omitted to do which might have cheered a human heart, or whispered hope in the ear of the sorrowful…” My Twitter feed is buzzing with resolutions of spending more time with family and friends, slowing down, rekindling hobbies and volunteering. 

I am determined to tackle the build up of clutter. This will cheer ‌my heart. January is a good time for a bonfire. Yesterday’s prunings from the garden and some old paperwork made a good blaze on a chilly late afternoon. There’s something relaxing about watching woodsmoke curl upwards with a cup of coffee in your hands. There will be other bonfires this month as we prune the fruit trees, the wisteria and the roses whilst they’re still dormant.

Getting the teenagers to sort through their wardrobes and fill a bag for the charity shop will also gladden my heart – as will clearing my backlog of filing, sorting through the seed tin, making a list and ordering seeds to sow in a few weeks time. There are a myriad studies about the benefits of clearing clutter – whether you’re into feng shui or just crave a dust-free clear work surface, having a clear out gives you an opportunity to sort, organise and simplify your life, space to be creative and productive and a feeling of well-being. 

Happy New Year.

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