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…

seeds

*Debby Boone

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Prayer Flag Pots

 

 

prayer flags

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}

close up

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

first plums plums

 

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.

 

A Comedy of Errors {Four Candles}


Before
~ just back from a trip to the garden centre

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After

fork

God made rainy days so that gardeners can get their housework done but with my wide-brimmed gardening hat on I barely noticed as the rain began to blow through on a breeze. However the gods were rather insistent that I stop by snapping my fork in two which reminded me of another very funny comedy sketch by the Two Ronnies, Four Candles.

fork andle

 

Being a resourceful gardener I put the broken fork handle to good use as a stake to protect a newly planted thyme from Hugo before defying the gods and turning my attention to potting a pretty little Dianthus chinensis in another of my favourite pots from Crail Pottery.

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An instant hit of colour to brighten up the courtyard on a dreary day!

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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!

 

chimnea

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.

seed catalogue

 

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.

hort hound

 

 

A Gardener’s Tail

A pot of newly planted geraniums {in one of my favourite pots} promise to add a splash of colour to my favourite corner of the courtyard but more importantly they protect a barrel of purple sage from Hugo. In my last garden I had a massive sage plant which had survived many harsh Scottish winters but proved powerless against the attentions of a Springer Spaniel puppy.

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Hugo is an enthusiastic gardener and loves digging but rarely digs in the right places.

digging

At the allotment he had to be kept tethered on a long lead next to the shed where he could sit and watch and if it happened to come on rain we would take shelter in the shed and enjoy a cup of tea.

hugo

 

But I never liked keeping him tied up, a garden is the perfect playground for a rowdy boy and so some other means of protecting the plants in the Secret Garden had to be found. Hence he is the reason the rosemary is kept on top of the potting table

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And the reason I put my treasured vintage bird-cage over the crocosmia

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And do you know what, I think that the challenge of dog proofing the garden has made it even prettier. Funny how life works out sometimes isn’t it.

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A Trio of Trees

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

Greek Proverb

My first garden was small and dark, north facing and overshadowed by an apartment block it was always damp and so I planted a miniature willow. It matured into a thing of beauty but sadly I had to leave it behind when I moved.

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However I did bring this little bay tree with me to the Secret Garden from my old allotment and I think it looks very happy in a fat little pot in this sunny corner at the foot of the stairs.

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I also brought with me my plum-tree which has temporarily been potted into a container until I manage to clear a space in the garden to plant it properly. The pot it’s in is large enough to contain it for at least a year and positioned as it is against a sunny wall should make it very happy.

But my favourite tree of all {though it’s fair to say the removal men weren’t so fond of it} is my corkscrew hazel.

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The branches form a living sculpture and even in the depths of winter the shadows cast by its gnarled branches add interest and depth to the garden, seen here against the garden wall and the plum-tree pot…

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and here against the potting bench* {before the plum-tree was transplanted}

herbs

And nestled at the base of the trunk is a delightful fairy door handmade for me by my wonderfully talented friend Val…

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They say that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago…the second best time is now. So what are you waiting for?

*a rather fancy term for an old pine chest of drawers that I spray pained gold and added cut glass handles too which I now use for storing all sorts of gardening gibbles