It’s garden Journal time for me, so if you’ve found these words already, I hope you’ll stick around for another few minutes whilst I tell tales about my last two weeks in gardening. In this post I’ll be Feeling Autumn, I enjoy a Hidcote Booster, and I explain why my arms will be a touch achy for the next few weeks.
I don’t know how you’re finding things, but when I stop to consider the autumn season, being in the garden has felt a little bit weird for a while now. Allowing for the vagaries of plants that do what they want, when they want, things still feel odd. Maybe it’s just the mild seasonal weather at the moment, but some flowers seem to be later than usual, some trees are keeping their colours hidden, and some perennials want to keep on going – at least in my garden.
Welcome to my garden journal for the last week in May.
It’s funny when you become aware that the default topic of conversation between people is often the weather. I suppose that whether we like it or not, weather affects most everything we do – and especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors. So, whilst I never want to admit it, it is often what I drop into my journal each week, not as a detailed record but as a general comment on how it has guided or impacted my week.
This week is therefore no different, and here’s my weather remark for the week at the end of May: Strewth it’s been bloody hot this week!
It was a slightly shorter week due to the Bank Holiday, but it was a tough one to get through simply because of the heat, of which I’m not altogether fond. I won’t dwell on it, as I have far more interesting things to record in the post, but I only hope the weather offers a bit more balance, and maybe some rain, and soon!
A summary of my gardening week both at work and home reads like so: Monday – Various potting on of veg plants at home. Trimming box topiary. Tuesday – Watering (Lots). Received large delivery of topsoil. Compost heap working. Mowing. Wednesday – Scything and grass clearing. Strung-up wigwams. Weeded through tulips beds. Thursday – Watering. Mowing. Began brewing compost tea. Potting up. Touch of topiary training. Friday – Watering, including auriculas. Cleared dell area to access pond pump. Cleared tulip bed & prepared for planting.
The stunning flower above I took for a common spotted-orchid, (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) though on further investigation I’m now more inclined to see it as an early purple orchid. (As such I’ve focussed again on it in my journal entry for 6.6.20) It was a real treat to find a little collection growing alongside the pond at Broadwell. I didn’t pause for too long as I was midway through a mowing session, but they had a rich colouring to the flowers that really shone out from amongst the flag iris foliage where they were hiding, and as always, it was a real thrill to discover them somewhere new. My awareness is now heightened for sightings elsewhere!
The next image shows an age old favourite called Ragged Robin (Silene flos-cuculi). Another beautiful flower but it doesn’t matter how hard I try, all I can see is a ring of pink suited little people…. Please tell me you can see it too!
Anyway, on with another moment, the first strawberry to ripen at home! It’s basically an old galvanised bucket, drilled for drainage, and planted with three strawberry ‘Honeoye’ plants that are apparently good in patio containers. The first one is now ripe, and is reserved for my youngest son who loves strawberries, in fact they were planted largely for him, although for some reason he’s not yet ready to try the first fruit… I can but try!
The next image picks up on one of my favourite occupations, that of scything. I’ve cherished my Austrian scythe for a few years now, although I’m the first to admit the correct technique still alludes me. I remember my tutor making the scything action look so effortless…
The task was the clearance of some undergrowth in order to access a water pump, but once this was finished I moved on to a brief session removing flowering stems, and a few thousand future seeds, from a good few docks growing amongst a grassy sward. “One years seed is seven years seed” as people say..
The scythe is excellent for both of the tasks mentioned, especially when used with the shorter ‘ditching’ blade, and where the docks are concerned it’s simply a task of swishing (none technical term!) the blade above the grass to take out the flowering dock stems. It may not be the complete answer, but it’s fuel and chemical free & it’ll stop them spreading ever further – a little bit of natural selection if you like.
My last image above of sun setting behind the trees is an image of mine taken for use, along with some text, on the Silent Space website. The new web page added this week will grow as more articles are added, and is intended to offer views of how, during lockdown, some people have found calm and solace through nature.
If you haven’t discovered the Silent Space initiative as yet, you might like to explore the link at the end of this post. Essentially though, a most basic explanation is that Silent Space exists to help people find a space, usually in a park or garden, where they can properly relax and enjoy a few peaceful moments of peace. During lockdown however, most ‘arranged’ Silent Spaces in gardens have been closed to visitors.
I’m glad to say that Silent Space in general is set to go from strength to strength, and its need is more important than ever before now that many more people are discovering the restorative power of gardens and green spaces. Do please check the link below and see the incredible number of places that will soon be open again to offer their Silent Spaces.
Well that has to be it for this week, but needless to say I have another busy gardening week ahead, and will be back with more luscious images and text next week.
Whether we believe in Blue Monday or not, many people do feel down in January, maybe because of all the hype and increased activity of the festive period. In truth though, there can be many times throughout the year when our spirits can for whatever reason, drop. Feeling over-worked, stressed, overwhelmed or just a little lacklustre, all are common feelings to many people at one point or another. But there’s hope…
One thing I have come to understand is that I definitely need quality time alone to unwind and recharge, maybe you feel the same too? “Ha!” I hear some people say, “like when do I ever get quality time to myself?!” Well, I’m familiar with this as well – very much so.
Now, I’m fortunate to work in the field of horticulture, which is to say that I spend most of my working days gardening. Something I’ve realised recently is that whilst I’ve prepared, restored and created gardens for people to visit, enjoy and relax in, I’ve also been able to experience these myself, even whilst busily working away.
Whilst in these spaces, I’ve always remained aware of the busy, thriving world outside because of lorries in the distance, jet planes overhead, ‘trends’ seen on social media during tea break and even by email – and yes, gardeners do get emails! Either way, I know that I’m never really that far away from the hustle and bustle yet, whilst I’ve been in my garden space, I have in a way been enjoying respite away from that congested, energy sapping world outside.
Please don’t misunderstand me, gardening is all-engaging, can be very stressful in many positions, and often, when a calm day of gardening appears to be ahead, a physically and mentally challenging day actually unfolds. Yet, through my work I’ve come to understand how, when ‘at one’ with nature and the green, growing environment; I can be completely calm and at my happiest.
I’ve also met many garden visitors and heard countless comments about how they love visiting and just being in gardens. “I love it here,” is something I’ve heard often. I’m completely sold therefore on the concept that gardens, woodlands, landscape and the outdoors in general can offer more nourishment to an individual than may be quantified. Put simply, if there’s a green space where one can be alone for a while to escape from the hectic world around, or even from a situation that needs more thought, then surely it must be a good thing for the individual.
Well, to get to my point, I’d like to introduce you to a set of green spaces where you can head for restorative purposes – and to an initiative that is ‘Silent Space’.
I will not attempt to explain at length, for it’s very simple – Silent Space encourages us to put our phones aside and to take a moment in a garden or green space. For all the reasons mentioned above, and more, Silent Space is an initiative that empowers us to breathe in the green space around us, to reconnect with nature, and to revive our spirits.
Where? You might ask, as often there are no quiet places nearby that ever come to mind for this sort of activity. But stress not, for wonderful people who believe in Silent Space have already prepared and opened areas of their gardens and venues as Silent Spaces, for you to visit.
True, if your garden or the park down the lane offers you a place for solace, then embrace it and use it, but the silent space I refer to here may just takes things up a notch or two.
The single link that follows will take you not just to a website, but to a growing world of much needed Silent Spaces that may offer exactly what you’re looking for. A growing number of gardens and landscapes are featured, and there’s likely to be one near you to try this year, and if there’s not, then why not ask for one, for Silent Space offers us so much, & is sure to keep growing…