Sadly, a very dear friend of ours passed away this week, following her battle with an illness in the Leukaemia branch of Cancer. She was very special to my Partner and I and so this has been a difficult week for us. One thing that has helped, is to get outside to enjoy the restful qualities of our little cottage garden and to do some much needed work. I’m not one for seeing the garden as an onerous set of tasks. Instead, I merely pick something to do and enjoy doing that with plenty of restful breaks and, of an evening, sometimes a glass of wine or even a Gin and Tonic.
I have a chronic pain condition and so my approach is to do what I can and nothing more, until another day when I then do something more. It’s good to keep things simple, easy and to not take it all too seriously. I’ve never understood why anyone would get so serious, stressed and experience their garden with a frown! Relax, inter-mix garden activities with a read of a book, a little music, restful silence, a few friends to help or to simply share that glass of wine with. It makes gardening a pleasure. Playful Dogs are always a bit of fun and our two are always inquisitive.
Update: Since writing this Blog post, my former diagnosis of Fibromyalgia has been changed. I have, as of June 27th 2017, now conclusively been diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease.
In my role as Counsellor and Psychotherapist, I often encourage my clients to get outdoors more; to increase their physical activity. People tend to de-stress when they take their time to relax and enjoy their gardens or outdoor spaces, such as parks.
This is the time of year when not only the foliage has burst through into life, but the blossom on trees and shrubs has started to bloom. In our cottage garden, our ‘wildlife’ hedge is doing incredibly well. Already, with the Forsythia, Pyracantha and Ribes Sanguineum having bloomed, it’s now the turn of the Hawthorn. Within the hedgerow, Cow Parsley has grown tall and is also in flower.
If, like me, you have an illness or disability that can make gardening difficult, growing a hedge along any wall, fence or perimeter is not only great for attracting wildlife, but is very low maintenance to look after. I cannot emphasise enough how well this serves wildlife. Allow wild plants (yes, commonly referred to as weeds!) to grow among the hedge. They are part of nature, the wildlife need them and they pretty much all offer their own display of flowers. Cut them back a little, from time to time, so they don’t overtake – but do allow them in.
We, our species that is, have fallen in to ripping out what is natural and thinking it looks better – so I often find gardens with ‘bareness’ between plants when there could be wild plants that help wildlife flourish. We need this, to help our dwindling Bee population, too.
The nettles, which I leave to grow amongst the base of the hedgerow, have attracted many Butterfly and Moth species. Insects, Birds and a variety of little mammals make busy within the hedgerow habitat.
The small gap in the fencing, behind the hedgerow, has enabled another Hedgehog to take up residency for the Spring. (I will add a photo in here soon, of the Hedgehog). He (or she?) arrived a couple of days ago. Our Dogs; Oscar and Digby, have made attempts to befriend the little Hedgehog but their efforts are simply met with a tight and prickly ball of Hedgehog defiance. The Hedgehog is great. It eats slugs and bugs and keeps things in good order. Have you considered taking in a rescue Hedgehog from a sanctuary or rescue centre? Ours is wild and found his way in through a purpose made hole in the fencing, but you could alternatively provide home to a rescued Hedgehog. Hedgehogs are now in decline, so please do think about these two options. Our veg patch and flower beds are slug free already, thanks to the prickly little creature.
In this section of the garden, we have planted a beautiful Black Cherry tree and beyond that, two little Apple trees. The Cherry has already offered a stunning coverage of the palest pink blossom. Now, it is the turn of the two Apple trees, which are starting to enter into flower. These aren’t the clearest photos, but you may make out the blossom (and Oscar seems a bit too keen to make use of our newest tree!).
At the other end of the cottage garden, we have a Japanese Shirota tree which always offers blossom of the purest white and, later in the year, the Autumn triggers the leaves to turn the most beautiful crimson. The Bees love this tree. This is still a young tree but a fast grower, it seems; for we only planted it about three years ago and it has grown several feet (sorry, I still use Imperial Measures; force of habit) in that time.