You can't have one without the other, a bit like happiness and sorrow..
Sunny days at last and I am deep in head work, heart work and the sheer hard physical work of the garden..
I hope you have some sunshine in your weekend!
..or my perceived lack of it.
I am reminded in Karen Ruimy's recent posts about energy that if I am open to it, I can tap into the resurgence of energy that is spring.
Imagine, she says, an energy of stillness coming into your body reducing the pressure from the world. This energy is coming to you and going into each part and cell of your physical body. Let that fresh new energy come in.
You are made of sunshine says Thich Naht Hahn.
Maybe that is true..
Did I call this lawn? Those 'weeds' are cat's ears (second photo) and I don't mind them, in fact I want them for the meadowy look, but that moss! I thought I could leave it for a year but there will be hardly any grass there by next year. I will scarify it in April (good exercise!).
The mini meadow usually gets cut late July or August but I never did find the energy for it last year. Strimming it is first on the list and I will pay the man who put up the greenhouse to do it. The proceeds from the last big painting I sold are earmarked for garden help. :-)
The patio/seating area is really important to me. 15 minutes with a bicarbonate of soda and vinegar mix, a cloth and the hose got rid of the algae... ....though it was too cold to sit down to drink the coffee.
The sitting area is on gravel. I let lots of things self-seed there (that 'relaxed look' you will be hearing a lot about!) It's not difficult after rain to take out the surplus. It is full of quaking grass and after they got soaked with the hose as I rinsed off the table I potted a few up and put them in the greenhouse along with the sweet peas in their root trainers.
Snow all around, blue tits checking out the bird boxes and the first seeds- night scented stock - sown on Saturday and up on Wednesday!
If you too are a gardener, what are the first couple of items on your list of wants and needs, and have you decided what is needed to get them ready for the new season?
See original post here.
Here is my own list.
I don't want any additional features and may get rid of one or two which I already have.
The lawns are very mossy! But I will live with that for this year. I plan to allow more areas to grow longer for a meadowy/wilder effect and to cut down on mowing time. See this post
I have suggested you photograph your garden 'warts and all' to aid the design process. If it is not snowing again tomorrow I will do just that!
Question one is What would you like to use the garden for?
For looking at, inspiring paintings as it did when we first created it 15 or so years ago, eating in, watching wildlife in, savouring the scents of, and the changes in different lights and seasons. To saturate my eyes with colour. My garden is a sensuous thing.
It's purpose is to delight all the senses.
It is at it's best late spring to late summer and I will focus on that time and look at other people's gardens for the other seasons' specialities.
(If I could achieve the effect Laura described here again I'd be very happy!)
When do you use the garden most is my second question (see post here). Oops! First question tomorrow..
One of the advantages of a greenhouse is that you can garden comfortably even when the weather is bad.. I bought the new one from www.greenhousepeople.co.uk . They have fantastic half price bargains in January though you don't need to take delivery until spring which suited me perfectly. This one has square section corners, toughened glass, and a 'bar capping' system for fixing the glass which makes the whole structure stronger. (There are some with names like Hercules and Rhino which are stronger still.)
I use the garden at all times of day, but not much in the evenings as the midgies can be a pest then especially if the weather is damp. I miss that. In Oxfordshire and Yorkshire we would often garden till it got dark. And the scents tend to be stronger in the evenings. However the midgies don't like the sun, and I do so I have become a fair-weather gardener!
First seeds sown today.
A new stronger greenhouse is up and ready (no more sitting in on stormy nights listening for the sound of breaking glass!). The propagator is switched on and I am re-reading my own advice about re-designing a garden.
I love growing things from seed....
Simply Grow is one of the biggest categories on my blog, and I thought I would look again at my Design Your Own Garden Course which began here and this time I will answer my own questions as I start work on making the garden manageable by one small person (ie me!)
Can it be done?
This year will tell.
I make no apology for linking once again to these videos by Hans Rosling who died recently.
He took the long view of the bigger picture. I really admired him and his unique perspective on the world gave me hope, and reason to be optimistic.
See Five Ways The World Is Doing Better Than You Think
I am even wearing yellow! I could not resist this jacket.
Though I know I don't suit it - yellow makes my skin look sallow, but..
,, with a colour that does suit me next to my face, I think I can get away with it....just.
A little search through the wardrobe uncovered a surprising number of yellow/lime/amber accessories.(photographed on the yes, golden yellow duvet cover on the bed). There are two yellow paintings on the walls, yellow pears and lemons on the dining table, a yellow cushion on the sofa. I'm obessed!
Yellow is fun I've decided.
What is your fun colour for spring?
Wonderful colours, patterns and textures at Scalpsie Bay on the Island of Bute.
I helped with the local beach clean this morning where we collected a lot less litter than in previous years. It could be because there have been fewer big storms this winter, though I like to think it may be because people are becoming more aware and careful....
Have you noticed a difference on a beach or in the countryside near you?
I am sad to hear of the death of the artist Howard Hodgkin
I have always found his paintings and prints utterly compelling though it would be very hard for me to say why. They seem to bypass my left brain and defy description in words.
Words seem superfluous.
Which is as it should be really.
In fact the visceral images seem to bypass brain altogether and go straight from eye to heart, or gut.
I have written a little before (under Simply Seeing Or Not) about Macular Degeneration.
Warning! do not watch this video if you have just been diagnosed with this condition.
If I was depressed when I got this diagnosis i would have been suicidal by the time I had watched this!
I think it is dated and patronising in the extreme (little old lady/childish rhymes/cartoonish). Profoundly negative (Gloria's life is over). Not even accurate (people with advanced AMD do not live in a black world, they still see light and have some peripheral vision). Does playing on our worst fears really make people more likely to donate? The thought of a newly diagnosed person looking for 'help' and finding this appalls me, and I am amazed that anyone could think this is appropriate or in any way constructive.
Just out of interest I looked up Cancer Research uk for comparison - what a different approach.
More on the subject when I have calmed down :-)
Maybe i should have stopped at having all the books in the one room, all on the shelves, and only one deep, but my other aim was that they should be easy for find, so it was logical to try to organise them into categories as after all the shuffling around I couldn't be sure of finding anything!
But I have to say it's quite exciting. I love our books and it is becoming easier to know which spark joy so the giveaway pile in the hall is getting higher and higher...
It's taking hours and hours but it's becoming a room I want to be in, and work in. I am so lucky to have the space.
Does anyone still use the lovely old reference books which have been a much loved and much used part of our book collections for so long?
For International Womens Day I'd like to send you over to read Lotta's poem Challenging Assumptions...
Chester is a favourite piece of furniture (so called because my daughter when she was little misheard chest of drawers and called it a chester drawers). It's 16 drawers hold a lot of stuff!
And the bookshelves in the study now hold a few less books. Books are now all in the one room, and all on the shelves (none on the floor).
Do you ever wonder where 'there' is, and what you would do in the unlikely event of reaching it? Maybe it's the click point and you just sit with a beatific smile on your face....
I see why Marie Kondo says leave the sentimental stuff till last. Her reasoning is that by that time you will have fine-tuned your decision- making muscles and joy-detector and it will not be too difficult.
So perhaps I won't jump the gun here. I was tempted to finish the sitting room completely by decluttering the letters and cards in these drawers but it is so hard and guilt inducing to throw them, and the recommended 'read your letters and keep the ones that spark joy' would take me weeks!
I am struck by the number of long letters I have received - 4,5,6 pages. We don't write emails that long do we? And I found it helpful to realise that I must have written an equal amount, so I asked myself Would I expect the friends and family I wrote to to keep all my letters? Would I be hurt or offended if they had got rid of them? The answer is No so that kind of gave me permission to part with many. I thanked them of course :-)
The rest went back into the drawers - stuffed not with clutter but with love and friendship and goodwill.
I can live with that!
Drawers full of love.
And back to following MK's rational order of things....
There is at least one very healthy mouse living in my compost bin and loving my juicer as much as I do. I lifted the lid to find it sitting up looking at me as if to say What have you brought me today then?
I wonder what Sue Blackwell would make of it. I can imagine a cross-section of the bin with elaborate tunnels and apartments and a whole family of mice living in warmth and luxury....
The last few days have flowed, for which I credit Alex Beauchamp's Do Manifesto as I call it. (See this recent post.)
Another favourite mentor, Marie Kondo, has me thinking about the click point. She says -
As you reduce your belongings...you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you. (Page 144 and 145 in my copy of The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying.)
Have you experienced that point? That click point? It's a magical feeling! Stressfree and calm. It makes you smile and also feel rather proud of yourself because it's an awful lot of work getting there! (Well it has been for me..)
I experience it now in some parts of my home and I want and need to get to that point with the whole house and with the garden.
That's this year's work, and what I will focus on in the next few posts.
Meanwhile the kitchen looks like a harvest festival every day since I bought a juicer.
Supposing is my word for this year and is proving to be a most helpful one.
I use it if I find myself saying things like I will never manage this task/house/garden/journey/event on my own. I stop and say Supposing I could? Supposing I just took the first small step? Supposing I am actually just like the people I know who manage wonderfully well on their own.
When I lost Barry I also lost this establishment's joint decision maker, patient and hard working gardener, good cook, willing chauffeur, (I have an eye condition which means I can no longer drive) repairman and DIY man. We used to joke we didn't do DIY we did DEY (do-everything-yourself!).
Clearly things have to change.
Here are three things I have to change-
I have to ask for help (Why is this so hard?)
I have to pay for help (Juggle and prioritise! Get realistic about what DIY I can do.)
I have to keep simplifying and reducing stuff to the point where I can manage it myself.
Would you add anything to this list? Ah, I notice I am asking for help here :-)
Is your chosen word working for you?
I willingly suspended disbelief at a really memorable theatre experience last night in Glasgow's Theatre Royal -a wonderful production - Debussy's music, the orchestra, the voices, the sets (by the designer of War Horse), the lighting, the venue - all in perfect harmony and balance, and so very moving.
It has had many great reviews, eg here, and here, and can be heard on Radio 3 on March 25 but live in this production can't be beaten I am sure.
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)