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

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…

 

Courtyard Chaos

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Wayne Dyer

With selected plants in carefully placed pots, an arrangement of garden furniture not to mention a small chimnea and a string of bunting the courtyard was beginning to look rather nice. In the actual garden part of the courtyard a few plants were starting to come to life and all appeared to be under control. But you know how deceptive appearances can be!

 

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After the wonderful weather over the Easter weekend we had a week of April showers and suddenly the Secret Garden exploded into life. With weeds choking the few plants in the courtyard I began to feel slightly overwhelmed by the sheer size of the task and momentarily slipped out of the moment allowing my imagination to conjure up all manner of worst case scenarios. As {in my fevered imagination} the trees turned into triffids I decided it was time for an emergency cuppa. Time to sit down at the garden table and do nothing more than drink tea and just be. With my attention back in the present I felt much less daunted as I realised {to paraphrase Eric Morcombe} that I have all the right plants but not necessarily in the right order.

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The plants that adorn the courtyard garden ought to be further up, under the trees. They are woodland plants and look out of place in the courtyard but transplanted have the potential to enhance the garden. With that in mind I decided to start at the very beginning {a very good place to start}  clearing the courtyard garden completely, removing or replanting everything in it, replacing them with my own planting design.

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Finishing my tea I tackled the task with renewed enthusiasm {and a little ‘help’ from Hort Hound} not because the garden had changed but because I had changed the way I looked at it and it was once more filled with possibilities not problems.

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The Bee Village

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Walking the dog a couple of days ago the first chubby wee bee of spring buzzed busily by taking me with it back through the decades to the days of my childhood. Visiting older relatives can so very often be tedious for young children but visiting my great-aunt and uncle was never so. Uncle Adam was the gardener on a large country estate in the rural heart of Fife and they lived in a wee cottage set against the wall of the large walled garden that he tended with love and care. With acres of grounds to explore I would wander freely for hours only returning to the cottage when hunger called me back to tuck into one of Aunty Molly’s delicious home-baked scones.

One day, discovering a small grassy embankment topped by a large hedge, I followed the path to a set of steps leading up to a gate in the hedge. With the curiosity of childhood I stepped through the gateway and was instantly surrounded by cloud of bees. Standing very still I allowed them to inspect me until, satisfied that I posed no threat, they went about their business. Filling the large square within the high hedge, much to my amazement, were rows and rows of wooden hives.

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I wandered amongst them in wonder for a while then walking slowly back down the steps I turned the corner and ran all the way back to the cottage. Bursting in on the grown ups chatting over tea and scones with eyes shinning brightly I breathlessly exclaimed ‘I’ve found a bee village!

With a quiet smile my uncle pulled on his boots and holding hands I skipped with excitement by his side all the way back to the apiary {for that is what it was} as he explained to me all about the Importance Of Bees. This time as we stepped through the gateway in the hedge the bees paid us no attention at all, not even when {without the need for smoke or hats as they knew and trusted him and by now I had been properly introduced*} he lifted the lid off a hive taking it apart to let me see for myself the secret of honey. We gathered a comb of honey before carefully putting the hive back together and thanking the bees returned to the cottage.

Dismayed when I heard of the recent decline of the honey bees I do what I can {and it is very easy to do} in the Secret Garden to support these extraordinary creatures and who knows perhaps one day I may even be lucky enough to have a hive of my own.

Special issue stamps from Ukraine where bee keeping is a major economic activity.

Special issue stamps from Ukraine where bee keeping is a major economic activity.

All pictures were pinched from Pinterest…many thanks to the many Pinners

*Telling the Bees

According to Scottish folklore if you want to know what the Druids know ask the bees because the bees know everything. Also it is very important to tell the bees of any event within the family {births marriages and deaths} and in the event of the death of their master they must be invited to the funeral otherwise they will leave the hive and never return.

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Pots of Inspiration

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Pots come in all shapes and sizes, most are mass produced and I would {and do} happily smash brand new pots to use as drainage without qualm. But not all pots are created equal and my favourite garden pots of all are handmade using traditional methods at a local pottery which also happens to boast one of the most beautiful and inspirational courtyard gardens I have had the pleasure of visiting. Hidden behind it’s own stone wall it could also have been a secret garden except for the large, bright signs pointing the way…

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Stepping through the gate and down a handful of ancient stone steps the courtyard is revealed in all its glory and splendour…

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Old wooden chairs and benches scattered around the courtyard invite visitors to stay awhile to enjoy the garden…

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Or the company of a cat…

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Cool fountains soothe the soul of the weary…

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And between the blooms piles of pottery and ceramics combine to create a perfect display of the craft of pottery and the art of gardening

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As the days grow longer and brighter I’m already looking forward to my next visit and if you ever find yourself in the area I recommend that you visit too. You’ll be glad you did.

If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need*

A good book has no ending.  ~R.D. Cumming

I love to lose myself in a good book and my favourite place to read is curled up in the garden chair with lots of cushions and a glass of something cold or a mug of something hot.

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I love reading about gardening almost as much as I enjoy reading in the garden and one of the first gardening books I ever bought was ‘A Garden of Herbs’ {traditional uses of herbs in Scotland} by Agnes Walker.

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Herbs are so easy to grow and quickly add colour and scent to any garden not to mention flavour to any meal and what would a mojito be without the mint?

You don’t need a massive garden to grow herbs they can easily be grown in pots on the kitchen windowsill or on a balcony. You can grow a single herb in an old tin can or plant an entire herb garden in a hanging basket. This lovely little book has chapters on traditional medicine, the culinary use of herbs, aromatic and cosmetic uses of herbs and herbs that were used for dye.

It was in this book that I learned of the hereditary Scottish medical practitioners, the MacBeaths {Beatons}. Tradition has it that every monarch from David I {1124 – 1153} to King James VI {1567 – 1625} had a Beaton doctor. From a gardening perspective that’s a lot of useless information but as a former nurse I found it very interesting.

My second favourite gardening book widens the culinary use of the garden from herbs to everything else…

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Following my success with herbs my ambition grew and I decided that I wanted to grow an entire pot of soup, the onions, the carrots, the swede and the parsnip, the whole lot. So far I have yet to achieve that ambition, I became sidetracked by fruit as the raspberries grew rampant and the strawberry fields threatened to take over forever.

Alys Fowlers book ‘The Edible Garden’ {how to have your garden and eat it} is easy to read, informative and inspirational and maybe this year I will grow a pot of soup.

My third and final gardening book of choice is a heavyweight, an encyclopaedia of plants. If {like me} you don’t have years of high level horticultural studies under your belt a good encyclopaedia is invaluable.

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Given a book voucher for Christmas one year I invested in this good solid reference book. If you’re looking for a climber it has a section on that, if you need tips on lawn care there’s a section for that and if water gardening is your thing there’s a section for that too. In fact there’s a section for any type of plant or gardening you care to mention and if like me you inherit unidentified plants from a previous occupant of the garden there’s a handy plant identifier.

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So even when it’s dark and dreary or tipping with rain I can curl up on the sofa {my second favourite place to read} with a glass of something cold or a mug of something hot and lose myself in the garden.

And like a good book a good garden has no ending…

To be continued

*Cicero