Blossoming.

Let’s, President Bartlet style, walk and talk.

I began this blog around the same time I really got stuck in to the garden. Small Girl had finished breastfeeding and I suppose I was feeling at something of a loose end. You go from being a little human’s lifeline to, well, not a lifeline, and I found that hard.

Look at this. Aren’t forget-me-nots the most darling little flowers in the world. I pulled a handful from the edge of a footpath while walking the dog and stuck it in the garden. Lo and behold, to my absolute delight, it has not only grown but has self-seeded quite happily. I suspect that I weeded out lots before I realised what they were. I adore the simple five-petal shape, clustered into perfect bouquets and that oh-so-finely balanced delicate blue and yellow combination. IMG_5129

Anyway, I guess I was planting a random selection of ideas here on the blog in much the same way I scattered seeds around the garden. I didn’t know for certain which would germinate and which would  produce nothing more than food for slugs. I didn’t know which bits were pretty fillers and which would bring genuine satisfaction. It was all trial and much, much error.

This is a perennial wallflower, (Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’), incredibly good value, evergreen and long-flowering and the petals have a nice way of varying shades depending on how they catch the light. I have yellow and orange versions also which aren’t quite as pretty but earn their place with their sweet, warm scent.IMG_5126

So, the nice thing is, it’s all starting to come together. Blog and plot both are still a little rough around the edges. You can tell that it’s all a DIY effort; no professional landscapers or web designers have been employed. But I am stubbornly independent. I prefer having a slightly wonky home that I made myself than something pristine and perfect to someone else’s design.

Our front garden, which you rarely see, is planted with cherry blossoms, fruiting cherries and cherry plums. Some are little more than twigs but a couple have really matured into proper trees and they are enough to make my heart pound with joy and, I guess, pride. The big pink one is just beginning to unfurl. There is a promise there of something magnificent but also the threat, of course, that bad weather will spoil the show. I am on tenterhooks.IMG_5192

Our biggest cherry blossom has gone for glory this year. Beyond glorious! It makes me feel tiny, cowed. It’s like stars shining or small children singing. It’s bigger than me. This is me, looking up.IMG_5185

The crab apple. Bittersweet. The crab apple was planted, right outside the kitchen window, in memory of a lost baby and blooms every year just in time for her would-have-been birthday. Not just yet, but soon, which is the tough time. It feels good to have a something, though, to watch something grow and flower, rather than an empty space.IMG_5121

And just next to that, the pear is exploding skyward and about halfway to full snowy white blossoming. Look, look at this! Can you see the wing movement? I swear I squealed with glee when I saw this photo this morning.IMG_5138 (3)

Below the pear, I have a few cowslips, again foraged from a roadside somewhere. I fret occasionally about kidnapping these wild plants but I prefer to think of them as stray orphans in need of good home. They seem happy enough although I suppose they may just be putting on a brave front. I prefer wild flowers to all others and I suppose what I most want to capture in the garden is the joy of discovery that you experience when you clamber over a ditch or bend close to a hedgerow and find unexpected beauty. It would be easy enough to fill the garden with bedding plants but I like it most when the garden surprises me. I like it to have a life of its own.IMG_5117

What I didn’t really understand until recently was that writing, like gardening, seems also to have a life of its own. It’s a trickier business, letting loose the writing, not least because the risk of humiliation is greater. It’s easy enough to keep a close camera angle on the bees and deflect your attention from the rotting deckchairs and the ailing mulberry tree. The writing involves a good deal more exposure. Still, somehow, ideas are popping up and growing that I’m fairly certain I never deliberately planted. It’s taking shape and I am beside myself with excitement, fidgeting like a racehorse confined to the starting stalls and desperately, desperately trying to find the time I need to dig and hoe and tend and stake.

The new ribes (flowering currant) is a stunner already and I’m heartily wishing I had planted one (or three) of these sooner. I had read that the leaves smell of blackcurrant but it was still a shock to discover how much they do…much more than the fruiting blackcurrant leaves. I had a serious ‘duh!’ moment last week when, after 44¾ years, it dawned on me why Ribena is called Ribena. How Husband laughed. IMG_5164

We’ve had stunning weather for a few days but we’re back to the regular gloom today. Honest to God, we’re like Pavlov’s dogs in this country, only the stimulus is a ray of sunshine, or any break at all in the clouds. We have seen fine weather. We know it happens. And it will, surely, happen again. But, there are no guarantees so we gaze skyward in ever diminishing, but never quite extinguished hope.

This, to me, is the cutest thing in the garden at the moment. It’s an alpine strawberry in the making, planted next to Small Girl’s fairy garden because these are fairy strawberries, no bigger than your thumbnail but exquisitely sweet. IMG_5132

Potential. That’s what the garden and the blog share and what they are all about. It hardly seems to matter what the endpoint is. Just feeling alive and connected to potential.

The Small Girl sat in bed this week and, for the first time, read her own bedtime story, aloud and to herself. She still needs help with what she likes to call ‘tricky words’ but still, we have truly crossed a line. I am no longer her lifeline, neither for food nor stories. What remains are morning cuddles, and plaiting her hair, buttoning her shirt and reminding her what number comes after 12.

She brought me tulips for Mother’s Day. I can’t seem to grow them. The slugs eat them or the wind strips them so I rely on the kindness of those who know me best to buy them for me.IMG_5148

What I am bursting to tell you is that I interviewed Darina Allen yesterday! Can you believe it? How often does anybody get to meet, let alone have a proper conversation with, their heroes? She is brilliant, honestly. Sparkling with intelligence and genuinely inspirational.

Give me a day or two and I’ll let you know all about it. For now, I have peas to plant.

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33 thoughts on “Blossoming.

  1. A beautiful blog post! I loved reading this, loved looking at the pictures. Are you doing much tinkering and twiddling with knobs and dials on your camera? I think the fiddling keeps me out in the garden twice as long as I need to be. Not that I mind. On a sunny day, that’s the place to be!

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    1. I do! I spent ages over the winter trying to figure out how to take photos in the near dark and now I have to begin all over again learning how to take good photos in bright sun. It’s a problem, mind you, that I’m happy to live with!

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  2. It is you who is bursting with potential …. brilliant you. I so enjoyed this stroll and chat. The garden has such love in it. Your lost baby tugs my heart. The fairy strawberries redefining sweetness in every way. And Darina! I am mazed and marvelled and most of all delightedly delighted that you have interviewed this icon of my kitchen. Because you are exactly the perfect person to do it. Your potential is bubbling and I watch with glee as you embrace it. Much as you watch with glee your Small Girl embracing her own voice reading at bedtime.

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  3. Such a lovely post! As a mom to five grown children and a home where books are front and centre, I would just like to say that even though your daughter can now read her own bedtime story doesn’t mean your days of reading to her are over. I read stories aloud to my children even when some of them were university age. Those read aloud times are some of my fondest memories. 🙂

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    1. Thank you. That’s good advice. Up to now there has always been a younger one coming up the line and happy to take the space on my lap. Luckily, she’s still very happy to let me take over when the tricky words come too thick and fast!

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  4. What a lovely post. It’s all homemade here as well. Flowering currants are one of my favourite plants, always so pretty. I have a morello cherry in my front garden. Still small, but I have high hopes. Walking underneath a sky of blossom is utterly glorious isn’t it. How moving that you have that bittersweet crabapple. A tree is a good way to mark something precious I think. Well done on your writing and blogging too. You are growing both beautifully. The bee photo is fantastic, I would have been thrilled as well. Let’s hope it’s a good year for bees and blossoms. CJ xx

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  5. Lovely pictures…..how I miss my gardens back in California…however I am coming to appreciate my new found beds….the cactus all have little nubs on them, some with new pads coming on, and buds ready to bust open….the hardest part of living here is remembering its not fall, its spring…LOL winter weather is just like our summer weather back home…LOL really frigin crazy and hard to remember….as far as the wee one….I remember when my son (now 30) no longer would let me hug him goodbye for school…big boys don’t need that, especially if the friends are looking…..oh my…I feel the pangs your going through….happy they are growing up, but dang it….not so fast….xxxkat

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  6. It is often mentioned that gardens/gardening is a form of therapy. It can be a place of peace and contemplation. It is lovely to have plants that remind you of past friends and family, we have some from both my mother and great aunts gardens.

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  7. OMG what a scoop! Lovely, lovely post about the absolute joy of growing plants and children. Very moving, too, that you have a beautiful crabapple as a memorial. That photo of the bee IS a corker. I can’t wait to hear more about Saint Darina. xx

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  8. Lovely observations here. Like you, I refuse to be pinned down to anything too much. We have our lives, our gardens, our loves, and we (sometimes) write. Was very touched about your crab apple – my garden is littered with memories in the form of plants, but this is exceptionally poignant. Hugs x

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  9. Simply beautiful, both pictures and words. You have brought a tear to my eye and smile to my face, thank you. I love plants that spread themselves around the garden and appear in unexpected places. My forget me nots and primroses have spread everywhere including the cracks in the path.

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  10. Your lovely post reminds me of the day my own garden in Pennsylvania inspired me to write first line:
    Some beautiful delights
    Are found in earthly sites…

    A walk in your garden would delight!

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