28 May 2017

Round up (no, not the weedkiller)

My plan to be more organised has been completely blown out of the water in the past couple of weeks so my apologies for the delay in posting here. Not only is this an incredibly busy time for planting out all the veg that I've been hardening off but I managed to squeeze in three garden visits in three days after a day down on the Hampshire coast.

I was in Hampshire with my brother to sort out the funeral arrangements for my mother who died peacefully almost three weeks ago on 9th May.  When she went, I felt it was a release for her.  Long time readers of this blog may remember that my mum suffered from dementia, a cruel disease of the brain which slowly builds over years to impede normal life, conversation and memories. I like to think that her spirit is now back to how I knew her - smiling, chatty, interested in everything and everyone, hopefully reunited with my dad and free. Tiny spaces gave her claustrophobia and she loved being outdoors. It's a huge relief that she is no longer cooped up in the (albeit very good) care home where she spent the last year, just sitting with strangers and well meaning staff but not entirely confident that her visitors were, in fact, her beloved children and grandchildren. In my heart I know that she would be glad it's over. She had a great life, lived to the full, loved by all and loving. Here's to you, Mum.

Mum and Dad up in a hot air balloon, Australia 1994. 

But back to gardens. My visit to Hampshire was originally planned to coincide with a visit to a rather fabulous private garden near Petersfield, courtesy of the Garden Media Guild. The garden belongs to Rosemary Alexander, a landscape architect and gardener who founded The English Gardening School at the Chelsea Physic Garden.  I was slightly in awe of her before I went but the beauty of these visits is to meet the owners; Rosemary is warm, welcoming and an engaging talker - and readily prepared to point out all the mistakes in her garden. (Although we really wouldn't have noticed!) Her garden is full of inspiration, including topiary, an inherited dwarf apple tree, fabulous plants and a cool green woodland area that would be just heavenly in this week's heat.

~ Rosemary talking to the GMG crowd; the woodland area of her garden ~


The next day my tiny car wound its way to the RHS Malvern Spring Show in Worcestershire. As I missed the deadline to apply for Press Day at the Chelsea Flower Show, I thought I'd head up to Malvern as I'd not been before. The drive through countryside was lovely - and quite exciting to suddenly spot the Malvern Hills in the distance! - but, once there, I felt that the show itself over-emphasised food, sitting areas and trade stands and, unless I missed the obvious, only a tiny handful of show gardens. The Floral Marquee, usually a highlight of the shows for me, was so packed with people (it being a Saturday when I went) that I didn't linger and saw very little of interest apart from one gorgeous striped Lily of the Valley. I would have bought it but was told, "they're all gone" by the sour little man running the display. Perhaps he'd had enough of the crowds too.

There were a few highlights: Buckfast Abbey's Millenium Show garden was popular and I thought it rather lovely, once I'd been able to squeeze myself through the surrounding throng. As a keen herb grower I wanted to see the herb-based 'Health and Wellbeing' garden designed by Jekka McVicar and the Edible Gardens, raised beds which showcased what can be achieved in spare ground and small corners. It was here that I found fellow blogger Sara Venn, she of Incredible Edible Bristol among many other gardening exploits, and her friendly team. This hashtag board sums up the feel good vibe in that area!





I broke my journey home with a short visit to my niece in Oxfordshire. Sunday dawned bright and clear and as the family live a short drive away from Waterperry Gardens in Thame, we headed over there to give everyone a good run around. I haven't visited Waterperry often but it's always a delight to be there. The garden has a very special history and atmosphere, especially the river walk and the long borders which are dazzling now. With small children in tow, and having been totally distracted by the beautiful meadows, there wasn't time on this visit to linger over the rows of espalier and cordon pears and apples - I last saw them bare branched in February and they're definitely a sight worth seeing!



I'll write more about all of these garden visits in future posts but in the meantime I'm having to focus on what I'm growing at home - the windowsills and balcony are all full up, I have more seeds to sow and a ton of planting out to do.  And, despite all the fabulous advice given to me about growing pea shoots, trial #2 produced one shoot and trial #3 is yet to produce anything.  I think I might have found my gardening nemesis.


19 comments:

  1. Oh what brave adventurers for parents Caro - looking so remarkably calm and happy in a hot air balloon - you would think that they had just popped out into the garden. I am so sorry to hear your sad news. My dad had dementia which as you say is a most cruel disease so I can imagine how you might be feeling. I'm glad that you have been able to immerse yourself and no doubt find comfort in some garden visiting. Oh what a shame that Malvern was a disappointment. It's my favourite show although it has been a few years since we went to the spring show and never on a Saturday. I think that I'm behind with your posts so must read about your pea shoot experience. I'm sure that you will get there. Take care xxx

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Anna. My parents were never ones to sit at home, always on the go whether being active in this country or travelling. It's very comforting to know that they did so much with their lives and had such a happy marriage.
      I think I would go again to Malvern but perhaps not on a Saturday next time! It would also have been lovely to have company on my walk round and perhaps a bit more time to relax and take it all in. I'll write more about the show as it definitely didn't disappoint in some areas! xx

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  2. So very sorry to hear about your mum, you're in my thoughts Caro. My partner's mum spent the last eight months of her life in a nursing home, not really sure what was going on, so I do understand how the end can be a release. It is not how she would have wanted to linger.

    Gorgeous photos, Waterperry is somewhere I'd love to visit one day. Great that you met the Incredible Edible Bristol lady too, I've enjoyed seeing her displays.

    Look after yourself, I'm sending you a cyber hug, CJ xx

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    1. Thank you, Claire - You're absolutely right, my parents were so active in their lives that the thought of spending her last months sitting down in one room, not in her own home, was abhorrent to Mum. I'll miss my mum but fully accept that this is her time at the end of a long and happy life. She certainly made the most of her time here on earth! xx

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    1. Lol! I didn't plan on cramming so much in to one weekend - it's been famine then feast here. I'll be quite glad to get back to my more usual sedate routine although May/June is a busy time for all gardeners, I think.

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  4. My sympathies, dementia is such a heartbreaking ordeal.
    The garden visits look and sound wonderful.
    My gardening nemesis is carrots, but I haven't given up yet. xx

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    1. Thank you, Mike. Dementia is a terrible thing to come to terms with but it's an illness that prepares loved ones for the inevitable. I haven't given up on pea shoots either! xx

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  5. I send you lots of love-dementia is indeed a very cruel illness.
    I bought dried peas from the supermarket and sowed them in a large pot in the garden. Worth you trying again?

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    1. Thanks, Sue. It seems that as we're all living longer, dementia is becoming more commonplace. I like the sound of sowing for pea shoots in the garden; up until now I've sown in small pots on the balcony but I've always said I'm rubbish at growing plants indoors!

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  6. So very sorry to hear about your mum, I too hope her spirit is free again. Dementia is an awful disease.
    Goodness, you have got around! Looking forward to hearing more.xxx

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    1. It's very comforting to me to remember Mum in her younger days, always smiling. Looking back through my parents copious photos, it seems they were always on the go so I'm pleased to think of her death as a release. xx

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  7. So sorry to read the news about your Mum Caro. Take care of yourself now x

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    1. Thanks, Jessica. It's something that we all have to face at some point and, although I'll miss her, I'm genuinely okay with this. Although, remind me I said that after the funeral! (Hankies at the ready!) x

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  8. Sorry to hear of your Mum's passing, Caro. My Mum also had dementia for the last years of her life. I think of her every day, usually with a "Mum would have liked this" kind of things when in the garden. It sounds like you have lots of happy memories of times with your Mum, which is lovely

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  9. Am so sorry about your mum

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  10. Hi Caro, sorry to hear about your mum. May she be smiling down at you from a lovely garden in the sky. Sending you a virtual hug from Buxton. And good luck with getting all the sowings in and sorted - it's all passing me by too fast... x

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  11. Dear Caro, I am so sorry to hear about your Mum. I fully understand your feelings about your dear Mum. My Dad also had a dementia and he too spent his last year in nursing homes.
    I always thought Malvern would be less commercial than Chelsea or Hampton Court. I am always amazed what can be achieved with the Incredible Edible Projects, they are so inspirational. Sarah x

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  12. Flawless photographs, Waterperry is some place I'd love to visit one day. Awesome that you met the Incredible Edible Bristol woman as well, I've delighted in observing her displays.....

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Caro x

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