The Christmas Chronicles Part VI – All is quiet on New Year’s Day


My timeline is full of people congratulating themselves for having taken down the Christmas decs and given the house a thorough clean ready for the new year. My day is less fraught with activity. The tree still graces a corner of the kitchen and the Christmas candles are throwing a rosy glow over proceedings. Today’s activity is firmly rooted in my plans for the coming season.

There was a year when I spend a few carefree hours turning the compost but as a nod to the damp weather, today’s activity is cerebral. A pile of seed catalogues are lined up on the dresser awaiting perusal – although my seed merchants of choice are online – Higgledy Garden and Real Seeds. I like their ethos and seed germination rates have been excellent over the last few seasons.  I’ve made a list (unusual) and among the abundance of cut flowers this year I am making room on the plot for some purple podded climbing beans, heritage lettuce and purple carrots. I’ve also plumped for field beans ‘Wizard’  rather than broad beans. Only two of the household are fans and these are hardy. A more organised woman would have sown them back in October but teaching is so often an all-consuming activity and so a few will be sown now and the rest later. I still have tulips to get in the ground, after all!!

If you want to make this year a better one than last then you’d do well to spend more of it in the garden. This is a good place to start with #five new year’s resolutions for gardeners. It’s American and written in 2012 but those of you who have followed this blog for a while or subscribed to Our Flower Patch will be familiar with the principles. I’m going to take my own advice because 2018 is already shaping up to be busy with the children being variously occupied with driving tests, university applications, GCSEs, county rugby and a production of Goodnight Mister Tom to direct, thirty years of marriage to celebrate and the usual frenzy of life at the chalkface.

And after the seed order is in I will continue with my pile of new books (reviews to follow) and a spot of baking.

Simple pleasures.

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.

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