..should be hung above every dentist's chair in the country! Would you agree?
I remember someone pointng out that wherever you see an accident or disaster, you also see helpers. We may not be able most of the time to help the helpless, but we can usually help and support the helpers. The fundraisers, the charities, volunteers...
There have always been wars but we have not always watched then live in our homes. I dom't think humans were designed for this! Watching war as it happens, beaming it into our lives. Is this intelligent behsviour? Moreover is it helpful?
As well as helpers you will also see people at the scene of an accident who are there to simply gawp. Television footage from Ukraine makes me feel like one of those people. It's alsmst voyeuristic.
So I am switching off and switching my focus to helping the helpers. The florist who is selling sunflowers wrapped in black paper and tied with blue and yellow ribbons who has raised £400 so far (my sister). The busy woman who finds time to raise £20,000 to help settle refugee families in her community - a house ready and translators and English lessons lined up (my daughter). The child who donated his month's pocket money (my grandson).
The world is full of helpers. Maybe you are one. Courage, compassion, kindness and plain and simple goodness save us from despair, don't you think?
What helps you keep despair at bay?
..give me hope that this..
will once again look like this!
The trouble with 'meadows' ie just letting the grass grow in my case, which is what I have done with much of the garden the last year or two, is that it looks really really scruffy off season. This year the moss is about four inches thick. When I pull handfuls of it out, the bare patches are alarming looking. I am just going to sow them with the native red poppy and see what happens. It could look wonderful with the red gate. Do you remember Gwendoline's 'When in doubt, muck it about;'? Thas what I am doing! I;ve put in foxgloves grown from seed and and ox eye daisisest which had self seeded elsewhere in the garden.
Christopher Lloyd and Pam Lewis are the experts I consult, though they garden in very different conditions from mine, in gentler climates. Such skill, knowledge and commitment. And hard work. I have visited both their gardens and the meadows were magical.
Have you tried letting some of the grass grow? Have you had good results?
..when you just have to grit your teeth and spend some money. The old chairs lasted 20 years and will now be recycled, as will the cushions which were so faded you wouldn't know they once had a pattern on them. They were sparking no joy whatsoever!
Breakfast outside on a sunny, if cold, spring morning is sparking joy! The tulips, Purissima, start out greenish, turn creamy then white. They are also one of the very few which repeat in my garden.
Have you had any meals outside yet?
To deter deer place slivers of leftover soap or beter still, cubes of the cheapest, smelliest supermarket soap close to special plants and/or around the perimeter of your garden, or where you knw they are getting in. They don't like the smell. Works for me!
The vinegar trick. Vinegar will kill off the weeds n a gravel drive.
And the hose trick from Bath Chatto. To mark out curves lay out a (warm) hose and cut the line either side with an edging iron. I am planning a metal strip along this edge.
Life is tripping over itself to get going, to get on.
Lia Leendertz As The Season Turns
100 g each of butter, caster sugar, ground almonds and SR flour.
Beat togeher butter and sugar then work in almonds and flour. With damp hands roll into 20 or so walnut sized pieces. Bake 180C for 10 minutes. Sandwich together with Nutella.
Make on a wet and windy afternoon. Serve with good coffee and pretend you are in Italy.
I have just come across this wonderful phrase (which doesn't just mean living a quiet life in your garden as I first thought!...).
Focussing as I am on gardening, I found myself thinking 'Je dois cultiver mon jardin' as a kind of justification for ignoring the rest of the world for a bit. I knew it came from Voltaire's Candide but little else, so I spent an absorbing evening looking it up ('Google it Grandma' says my grandson if I ask him somehting he can't answer!)
I skimmed words by Julian Barnes, Thoreau, Wittgenstein and more, and landed on the site of Austin Klein who linked to The School Of Life. Scroll down to see the short video here. All well and good I thought, but didn't Plato say that if good people ignored public afffairs the price we would have to pay would be to be ruled by evil people?
Everything is about balance and the point of balance is different for every person. Maybe we all struggle to find our own place, our own opinion and our own way to do something good to counter the bad.
AND culitiver notre jardins.
I don't intend to write much about this topic here, but it seemed wrong not to acknwledge it, and writing helps me think thngs through. As do your always interesting comments which I really appreciate. Thank you so much for making the blog a conversation.
..what to write about lately. I know from the numbers that you are all still there, but you have gone very quiet. Undrstndably. You perhaps don't knw what to say either as the shock of this horrific war can make all else seem inconsequential.
As Susan in Dorset so encouragingly pointed out in yesterday's comments:
Negative intentions and actions spread out in waves, as we are seeing, but so do positive intentions and actions.
I am thinking a lot about what I can do, who do I listen to, how much do I watch and about horticultural quietism (!).
The Estonian singer Mari Kalkun says 'We are all activists and must stand up for peace'. I would add for all the things that are the antithesis of war. You can hear her about 3 minutes into the programme.
My brain as well as my herat is hurting.
Did you find perfection? (See yesteday's post.)
If you can't spot it around you, create it. Listen to the perfect music for this day or this moment, make the perfect lunch or sandwich, find that perfect birthday card or present for someoone.
Here is my pocket of perfection for today. I find it helps me keep a balanced view of things and reduce anxiety. What use are we to anyone after all if we are overwhelmed and stressed?
No matter what is going on in the wider world, or what is going on in my world and yours, there is perfection around us.
In working on the garden this year I am looking for little pockets of perfection - a corner here, a pot there, a plant combination , a happy accident....
There was a time when this garden was pretty close to perfection. We opened it for charity under the yellow book scheme for several years and worked hard to make it as near to perfect as we could. There was great pleasure and satisfaction in that, but withoout Barry I can't keep up that standard, nor do I need to!
Here is today's perfect thing -when the bee found the barely opened miniature iris.
..for the Carol Bruce treatment (ie the disciplined approach) is another seating area, under the study window.
I have read many gardening books, and followed many gardening gurus .There is a spectrum between Carol Bruce's disciplined and methodical ways and Mirabel Osler (author of A Gentle Plea For Chaos). I vary along that spectrum from year to year and even at times, from day to day! Carol Bruce's approach inspired me when I was feeling a bit downhearted at the state my garden had got into. 'Roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty and see what you can do.' Garden design is an art and a brilliant subject and I nevver tire of it. There is always something to learn.
I ha've decided the more disciplined approach is what is required here, though I am starting as Carol Bruce does with 'What feelings do I want this bit of the garden to evoke?' This is the seat I stretch out on after a good lunch on a warm sunny day. Deep relaxation is key. Heady scent a must.
The bench and chair are now stained a lovely grey (Cuprinl Silver Birch) and the magenta geranium Ann Folkard looks wonderful beside it (sorry I can't find the photograph), and I have just bought some roses called Timeless Purple which I think will look sumptuous and smell divine. I also plan to bring on two Chocolate Cosmos for their rich colour and amazing perfume.
That's the dream, meanwhile the reality is that there are currenly at least 11 different plants growing in the space around the bench, and as you can see above, the chair is drowning in alchemilla mollis. The clematis is sagging and the pots are broken....
Sleeves rollled up and getting hands dirty!
..about writing a log/diary is being able to look back and remind myyself just how different the garden will look quite soon. The feelings I want to evvoke in the main sitting area of the garden (see yesterday's post) are pretty much what I have achieved in the last few years...It can seat about 12 and we have had sme wonderful family clebrations around that table.
The cane wigwams provide just enough screening. This year I am growing sweet pea 'Matucana' up them for their strong scent and vibrant colour.. I plann to have magenta with maybe a dash of lime green or even orange.
The black chair in phot two collapsed under someone last year! Thakfully she was not hurt but new chairs are on order.
Apart from that feeding the wisteeria in the corner to see if it will flower better is the only change required for this area. It's a very happy part of the garden. Do you have a happy spot? Or plans to make one?
I watched with interest a feature on Gardeners' World about Old Blenbean Stud Garden, created by Cariol Bruce. A gorgeous garden though what interested me most (and they didn't elaborate on it) was that she is the only gardener. She said that with the right tools and methods it wasn't difficult to do all the gardening herself. I wanted to know more!
On her quite extensive website I especially liked this piece Making The Garden Step By Step
Also worth reading are the FAQ's which give insights into her rather unusual approach.
She begins by asking herself what kind feeling she wants the garden to evoke, so I am going around the garden asking myself that questin of each different area. In the main sitting area I want to feel relaxed, at home, at ease. I want scent and abundance and am willing to take a relaxed attitude to a few weeds in the gravel, and to be happy about self sown this and that...I want plenty of seating (safe seating - must replace some very old chairs) for family and friends...
I like this approach and several other ideas from Carol Bruce. I hope she is writing a book.
We may not all be mothers but we all had one and we are thinking of them today as it is Mothering Sunday here in uk.
I am spending mine isolating instead of with my wonderful daughters, but in my warm sunny garden that is no hardship. I can't help thinking of all the mothers who died of Covid and of the mothers who are suffering in Yemen and Ukraine.
Bless all mothers everywhere.
I was curious to see 'The Walnut Whip', a new hotel in Edinburgh's St James's Quarter.
I like the juxstaposition of old and new in architecture - a real design challenge which when it does come off can be very exciting.
To my eye this nearly works...
I liked this view - the bold strong curve against the geometry of the old buiildings makes an intersting contrast.
The deep steps for sitting on, the normal size ones to walk up and down on - this works well. Very user friendly.
This strange shape interested me. I wondered if it was a staircase? (At the time I did not know that one of the names for the buidling is the golden ribbon.) I went for a closser look and grasped the concept.
..where the 'golden ribbon' shoots up from the ground to wrap around the building, though a quite beaurifully executed bit of sculpture, it looks as if it is considered such a hazard that safety barriers have had to be put around it, totally spoiling the effect! If I was the designer I would be weeping into my drink if I saw this!
I thought about the building over a cup of coffee in the adjacent Black Sheep Coffee Shop at an outdoor table and concluded that it would take a builder of consumate skill, a genious of a builder to create this design almost completly made of curves, with the confident panache it needed..Instead it is a bit wibbly wobbly and ponderous and sadly, in my view, doesn't quite come off.
Better to have tried and failed? Better to have given it to Frank Gehry...
Second live concert (one of the things I missed most during the pandemic). I think there is a very special atmosphere at these first concerts - both the nusicians and the audience are so especially delighted to be there - it's palpable.
The RSNO concert at the Usher Hall was stunningly good. Lise de la Salle played Rachmaninov 2. The programme began with Walton and ended with Elgar. We loved it.
What things did you miss most during the past two years?
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)