Pray, Love, Remember

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Aphrodite rose from the sea draped in rosmarinus, dew of the sea {ros ~ dew; marinus ~ sea} and Greek scholars wore garlands of it round their neck when sitting examinations to improve their memory and concentration.

With the advent of Christianity the association was moved from Aphrodite to Mary and the plant renamed rosemary {rose of Mary} accordingly. Personally I prefer the poetry of the ‘dew of the sea’ to the rather dull ‘rose of Mary’ but to paraphrase the Bard, ‘a rosemary by any other name would smell as sweet’ and despite this religious re-branding its properties as an aide-mémoire remained recognised. However it wasn’t until as recently as 2013 that a study by the University of Northumbria provided proof.

Unknown in Britain before 1375 when it did arrive on these shores its properties were valued by playwrights and philosophers, gardeners and cooks alike. True to its Mediterranean origins it loves hot, dry conditions but can just as easily be grown in a window box on a Scottish isle as it can on a Greek island. If I could grow only one plant it would be this, evergreen it provides colour in the garden and taste in the kitchen all year round.

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A trio of rosemary were the first plants I added to the Secret Garden, on top of the potting bench against a west-facing wall provides the perfect hot, dry conditions for them and they have thrived. Within easy striking distance of the kitchen there are few dishes that can’t be enhanced with a few sprigs of rosemary and there’s nothing that can put the ‘party‘ into the Secret Garden Party quite like a jar of  rosemary and strawberry gin!

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The resulting alchemy creates a taste of summer that your guests will love, it will turn them all {each and every one} into Greek philosophers and ensure they remember forever the wonderful afternoon they spent sitting in the sun putting the world to rights.

Although it is simple to create it’s best to make this a week or two before your party to allow the flavours time to merge but chopping strawberries is as strenuous as this recipe gets…

Rosemary and Strawberry Gin

Ingredients*

Rosemary

Strawberries

Gin**

{*quantities variable according to personal taste, feel free to experiment}

Method

Rinse the rosemary in warm water and pat dry in kitchen towel. Crush the sprigs lightly by hand to release the oils.

Wash and dry the strawberries and chop in half.

Throw everything into a sterilised jar and cover with gin. {**Any old gin will do or if you prefer you can substitute with any old vodka}.

Then simply sit back and wait for the magic to happen.

Slainte

 

 

The New Normal

thumbs up

thumbs up

Six weeks have passed since I lost the fight with the triffid and finally the time came to cast off, so to speak, and so three days ago the orthopaedic nurse directed me to the plaster room.

Looking down at my newly exposed wrist I felt as though I was looking at my life through the wrong end of a telescope, suddenly normality seemed so very far away.

However in hospital I had very little time to reflect as I went from the plaster room to x-ray, from there back to the surgeons clinic and finally to the physiotherapy department.

But it doesn’t take a palm reader to see that it’s going to be a long painful summer…

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The angle of my hand contrasted against the straight edge of a wall when I ‘straighten’ my arm.

However having had a few days to reflect on my situation I have come to the realisation that this is my new normal and already I can curl my fingers into an approximation of a lopsided fist of defiance…

 

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Well it’s a start.

{apologies for the poor quality of the pictures}

Dreams Are the Seeds of Change*

May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day.

Native American blessing

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When mother retired she downsized from a three bedroom house to a one bedroom apartment and clearly couldn’t take everything with her. However deciding what to take wasn’t always easy so whenever she wanted to postpone the inevitable she would say ‘that can go in the hall cupboard’. Eventually I had to point out that it was only a cupboard, a large cupboard granted but a cupboard nevertheless, not a Tardis!

In my daydreams I find myself guilty of the same line of thought. I dream off having a cottage garden, a kitchen garden, an orchard and a wildflower meadow all within the crumbly old stone walls of the Secret Garden. Oh and did I mention the potting shed? Or the arbour? And oh wouldn’t a stream be lovely!

Like mothers hall cupboard the Secret Garden is large but the walls would need to defy the laws of physics to contain everything I want. And yet I remain resolute, I will find a way to squeeze everything in although clearly compromise will be called for.

The cottage garden might have to be limited to the site of the triffid patch and the kitchen garden may never amount to more than a few pots in the courtyard. As for the wildflower meadow and orchard I hope to combine them by planting wildflowers amongst the fruit trees to create a small meadow orchard.

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My dreams like the wildflowers grow freely and in my dreams everything fits beautifully and the dream starts here…

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*Debby Boone

Prayer Flag Pots

 

 

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Inspired by the pretty posies the women of the village used to decorate the tea tables in the old Royal British Legion hall {see The Wisdom of Flowers} I have been giving some consideration to colour. Apart from the fountain of fuschia there is very little colour in the Secret Garden giving it the appearance of 50 shades of green {which isn’t as exciting as it may sound}.

Close to the cottage is a small public garden set on a steep slope, I’ve no idea if it has an official name but I think of it as the White Garden. It is rosebordered on two sides by an old stone wall that has been painted white, on the other two it is edged with a staggered double row of silver birch.

White stones and gravel have been used to create the steps and paths and all the plants are white. The roses wouldn’t look out-of-place with a couple of playing cards painting them red but the pale planting and panoramic views make it appear more spacious than it is. However such a limited palette wouldn’t suit the Secret Garden.

A friend’s father planted his garden red, white and blue, colours associated with his favourite football team which was rather a fun idea. Of course a garden can be many things to many people, it can be a place to grow food, to eat and entertain, or it can be a retreat, a place to read and relax. To me the Secret Garden is all that and more but above all it is a place of meditation.

With meditation in mind I began to look around for inspiration for the future planting plan and my first thought was to base it on prayer flags. I bought my first prayer flag many, many years ago on a visit to Samye Ling nestled deep in the Scottish Borders. Samye Ling is the oldest Tibetan Buddhist Temple in the Western world and if you ever get a chance to visit please do, it is a most remarkable place. Over time the prayer flags faded before finally disintegrating so my first thought was to plant floral flags.

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Prayer Flag Pots

But prayer flags would limit me to only five colours {blue, white, red, green, yellow} which I felt was rather restrictive. Following further contemplation I then thought to base my planting plan on the colours of the seven main chakra…

Muladhara ~ Root Chakra {red}

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Swadhisthana ~ Sacral Chakra {orange}

nasturtium

Manipura ~ Solar Plexus Chakra {yellow}

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Anahata ~ Heart Chakra {some say green, some pink but it’s the same chakra}

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Vishuddhi ~ Throat Chakra {pale blue}

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Ajna ~ Third Eye Chakra {violet}

foxglove

Sahasrara ~ Crown Chakra {white}

**dandelion clock

 The biggest challenge will be to incorporate these colours throughout the cycle of the seasons although there’s always the blue of the sky, the evergreen of the bay tree and the golden-yellow trim on the holly, Ilex aquifolium Aurea Marginata {sadly it’s a male tree or there would’ve been red berries too add to the chakra colours} which is a good start.

But if all else fails there’s always bunting!

bunting

**Yes that’s a dandelion but no it’s not a weed unless you long for a luscious lawn. Dandelion  {taraxacum officinale} is a flowering herbaceous perennial used in kitchens and apothecaries and it produces the most beautiful seed head.

 

Daydream Gardening

Unable to do much more than a little light weeding I find myself daydreaming about the Secret Garden and how it will look when it’s finished…

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All these photographs come from gardens that have inspired me and if you recognise your garden in amongst them thank you so much for sharing the fruits of your labour. The Secret Garden has a long way to go and a lot to live up to but watch this space…