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?


Out with the old….

Change is in the air on New Year’s Eve. It’s always been a time to reflect over the past year – what’s been good and not so good – and to get to grips with how you want to move forward into the new year, or in this case the next decade. Deep winter is a good time to look closely at the structures in the garden, prune away the dead, overgrown and ugly and open up areas for new growth in the spring. With that in mind we’ve been doing a spot of pruning of the hazel at the bottom of the garden. The same is true of life in general. A spot of pruning does you good.

Twenty years ago today, on our wedding anniversary we took a trip into the Cotswolds for lunch and returned home to discover that we two would become three, some months into the new decade. Eleven years of being a couple were over and it was time to let go of old ways of being and embrace a different kind of life. In fact we became five within a couple of years. As we face the next decade we’re contemplating changes as gradually the children fly the nest and make their own way in the world.

Change is in the air.

In my classroom too it’s time for reflection about how to better inspire and support my students. The best teachers are always looking for ways to make the classroom experience better for themselves and their students. I’m focussing a lot on supporting independent learning strategies in the students I teach, letting go of resources and ways of working that have served their purpose, learning a few new tricks myself and making an impact beyond my own classroom.

Change is in the air.

A bit of garden therapy….


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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