Never give up on a good thing.

Hypericum

I’ve never been a fan of Hypericum (St John’s wort). Perhaps it’s because it seemed like a ubiquitous, common-or-garden failsafe, which tolerates a range of conditions. I even ripped it from my own garden, when I started from scratch, unappreciative of its medicinal properties and many benefits.

A year or so ago, I found a sprig, which had survived my brutality, and potted it up. I left it to its own devices and neglected to show it much love. It’s been watered intermittently, only because it was in the path of my hose when aiming at more ‘desirable’ plants. It has managed to hang on, through the drought, and despite its mistreatment and ragged appearance, it’s now bearing fruit, and I am feeling ashamed by my actions.

What I’m trying to say, is that you should cherish the plants and people who are always there for you, through all weathers. It’s easy to overlook those who are loyal to you, until you nearly lose them, or worse. In the words of John Betjeman: “A gentle guest, a willing host, affection deeply planted – it’s strange that those we miss the most are those we take for granted.”

Tell someone close how much you appreciate their love, today, and back it up with actions. 💚

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Growing pains for growing gains

Lilium Acapulco

My pond is fast disappearing under a mass of foliage and duckweed. Even Buddha is beginning to berate me for his dwindling vista.

Neglect is neglect, but before you scold yourself for falling short of your self-imposed perfection, it’s worth remembering the bigger picture and that sometimes we have to take several steps back before moving forward, unabated, minus the nagging voice in your head.

The garden is thriving, in the main, thanks to my dedication during the drought, and a lot of encouragement from the foliage fraternity, who keep me inspired and in good company. So, while I reflect on the diverse plant life, which takes us somewhere between success and failure, I’m reminded that your last mistake is your best lesson.

Perfection is intolerant of mistakes and incapable of accepting flaws, but diversity is the result of flaws that have learnt to adapt into myriad forms. Thank heavens for imperfection! 

Perfectionism and the battle for enough

Assignment blog

So, tomorrow, I’m putting this assignment to bed. It’s long overdue, by anyone’s standards, but it’s been a tough 3 months, being all things to all people and working full-time. I’ve learnt a lot, not just about the history of garden design, the characteristics of plants, and the benefits of different materials, but also about myself.

I will always be a perfectionist, which can rob me of time during open deadlines, and while this has its drawbacks, it also has its benefits: I get to see and feel things deeply, not all of which is pleasant, but I also see beauty in glorious technicolour and pick up on details that may pass others by. It’s an inherent part of my makeup, which I’m constantly battling with.

And although my dear mother suffered the same ‘affliction’, she was a deep and beautiful soul, who left too soon, without ever realising her uniqueness, because she compared herself to others, and created that out-of-reach future self, which makes us feel that we’re never enough.

I’ve been and done more than enough, lately, and shown strength where I may have previously faltered. I’m trying to be the best version of me that I can be, even if I go down a few blind alleys and give myself a constant guilt trip about the house that I don’t have time to clean or the strong and inspirational father who I have to miss a weekend with to complete assignments or recover from a long week.

But, tomorrow, I’m having a ME day (after I’ve flicked the duster and brushed things under the sofa) and taking a Yoga for Anxiety workshop with Anna at Empower Yoga Birmingham, when I will be enough, more than enough, for one day at least.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

Stress

It’s time to stop, check in with yourself, and notice how you’re responding to your environment and those around you. The truth is, none of us is immune to stress; it can creep up on us as we continue that relentless pursuit to pay our dues, being all things to all people while we neglect our own thoughts and feelings.

If you’re isolated or live alone, it’s even more important to be honest with yourself about how you are reacting to each twist and turn in your daily life, because, without witnesses, you can forget to deploy that OFF button and hurtle headlong into meltdown.

More and more people live alone, due to choice or circumstance, and one would hope that there are people around to support you, and who recognise when you’re taking on too much, or to be a voice of reason when you’ve been running on empty.

Be that friend to yourself, right now, and challenge those thoughts, which are, perhaps, telling you to carry on, regardless, when there is no dashboard to display the point at which you’re about to derail. We all have our limits: observe them, respect them, and respond with kindness.

Mindful moment at Malvern Spring Festival

Spirit of the woods_001

Spirit of the woods_002

Spirit of the woods_003

I’ve been pulled in all directions, lately, that it’s been difficult finding the time to be mindful, and truly present in the moment, but if ever a garden symbolises serenity and inspires self-care, this one does. The Spirit of the Woods, by Peter Dowle of Howle Hill Nursery, is more than a gold award-winning show garden; it’s an experience.

The moment you step onto that jetty, and look across the lake to the meditative mask, created by sculptor Simon Gudgeon, you disconnect from the baying crowds and reconnect with nature. Framed by the naturalistic planting, which blends seamlessly with the landscape beyond, it evokes empathy from the viewer as you become a reflection of the scene and intimately acquainted with it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to get up close and personal with this vision in the valley, such was the demand on its Designer, but it was so wonderful to witness its whispering waters, which spoke to so many, who may have needed it more than I did, from a young boy in his wheelchair, to many more who hugged its shores as I looked on from a distance. A sight to behold.

Random Acts of Kindness Week

chi garden

In case you didn’t know, it’s Random Acts of Kindness Week. So, in the spirit of Bernadette Russell’s ‘The Little Book of Kindness’, and Eden Communities, I’ve made a little chi garden for my very worthy and unsuspecting yoga teacher, Anna, at EmPower Yoga – Birmingham, who has just completed her Yoga Therapy and Anxiety course, with The Minded Institute. I am forever grateful that she arrived at my gym and in my life, to give me the benefit of her practice. I hope it makes you happy and you enjoy your mojito-scented tea light. Well done, that lady! Namaste 

It’s #timetotalkday2018

Time To Talk

When you don’t get enough sleep it’s easy to let your thoughts run away with you and start focusing on the things that you thought you’d resolved and would otherwise have managed to let go of. Instead, you begin searching for something deep within yourself that doesn’t live there any more, rather than accepting that it’s gone. For some, it’s a bit like when you know you’ve left your cashback in the self checkout, but continue to open your wallet, hoping to retrieve it. For others, it’s an overwhelming sense of despair that you thought you’d learnt to live with, but returns, threatening your peace of mind and ability to function at any level.

Know that this emotion is common to many, even if the reason is unique, and that your affliction, physical or mental, is a valid cause for disappointment and a part of living with the sense of loss associated with grief of any kind. You can’t change what happened, but you can change the way that you respond to it and leave room in your heart for everyone and everything that comes your way. While reminding yourself of your vulnerability, also reflect on the strength that it took to recover from that experience, and the beautiful soul that’s been preserved as a result of your growth. You’ve come a long way, my friend; don’t turn back. We’ve got this!

Darren