Out from the Cloud!

This week I have been full of optimism once again at being able to continue my horticultural line of work. With a spring in my step and gentle warmth on my back I worked happily under the early spring sun reassuring me that a new growing season is just beginning. The gardens are full of promise as they wake up from their winter slumber.

Gone is the self-doubt and despair that winter always brings upon me as I tread carefully on slippery paths. Everything is heavier – soil, wheelbarrows and weed buckets. The cold and damp send my hip and leg into spasms. I lurch sideways as I over compensate for ‘being careful’. The dreaded limp becomes more pronounced and the familiar ache in my lower back groans with the extra effort of stability as I slip and slide. I question the logic of this labour intensive occupation!

I work less days in the winter now than before ‘The Accident’, such is my very real fear of damaging the good work my surgeon made putting me back together. I am lucky in that my regular clients are understanding, most have known me before and after. There is not so much to do, the gardens are for the most part winter dormant, nevertheless I still feel guilty every day I am at home.

Luckily some horticultural tasks can be achieved at the drawing board in the warmth of the dining room/office. A time to plan new gardens and borders.

In Winter my mood like the weather becomes unpredictable. Time alone becomes my friend and enemy in equal measure. I am either┬ámanic and ‘can do’ as I throw myself into new and put aside projects or the opposite as I head down into the pit of despair becoming despondent, reclusive and unable to concentrate or settle to anything productive.

A can do moment in January saw me enrolling on a┬ábeginners oil painting course. For the long-suffering any new hobby – there are many – give him welcome birthday present ideas and this year it was a floor-standing easel to assist me on another journey, this time as an artist!

The Kitchen has like the dining room become dual purpose, at least until the days are warmer when I will decamp out to the summer-house in the garden.

The class started with tonal studies, followed by gradually adding more colours. We have worked on portraiture, landscape and as now back to still life. Some are finished and some will need more work.

Efforts so far Portrait……

Still Life…….

Landscape……..

I have even in past years been manic with knitting projects…………

In previous years for the Grandchildren at Mole Hall a blanket and toys!

This year a knitting project for a new grandchild due in June …….

 

My worry of retiring from a job I love is the catalyst for my despair days. Hours of on-line searching for a less strenuous way to earn a wage plunge me downwards and bitterness rears its ugly head once again.

But in the end gardening is all I want to do, still….. Gardening makes me happy, and is the one thing above any other that I feel confident at. This week my mood was instantly lifted I was outside surrounded by nature – birds, early insects, rabbit munching young shoots, hopping away as I arrived. The resident dog, dropping her ball on my trowel as I weeded, eyes excited, tail wagging, expectant for me to throw one more time. A different garden the resident cat sat on top of an arbour purring as he too enjoyed like me the warming sun, his eyes lazy, half-shut watched me as I toiled away below.

Moving out of the winter season will steadily see my hours increase as the mornings get lighter and the working day gets longer. There will be less time and inclination to spend on indoor pursuits, although I am determined this year to keep up with writing, painting and photography. But for now thoughts of changing what I do will become a distant memory – that is until the next winter when old doubts will rise again!

 

Ne’er cast a clout till May be out!

IMG_1769And so the saying goes, but ….. does it mean The month of May or when the Hawthorn fills its branches with ‘May’ blossom?

It seems on this we mortals are divided, but whatever your preference our ‘May’ Hawthorn blossom is out in all its glory, however I am still wearing scarf and fleece, and if the last two weeks are anything to go by I will not be casting them off any time soon!

For the last six weeks or so summer bedding and vegetable seedlings have been available to purchase alongside the weekly grocery shop as well as the usual horticultural outlets. I wonder how many new enthusiastic gardeners were caught out by the late frosts of a fortnight ago, and then watched as they blackened and died, or sat and sulked becoming slug bait in their weakened state.

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I myself got itchy fingers with a cold frame bursting at the seams but luckily common sense prevailed on that occasion.

Instead my attentions went elsewhere in the garden specifically to my outdoor summer-house.  Until a couple of weeks ago it had become a second shed with folding garden chairs/tables, empty plastic plant pots and anything else that never made it back to the actual garden shed!

The idea was to create a calm space to read, write, paint or retreat to when I am either too jiggered to work in my own garden after toiling away in my clients, or long-suffering has his all things sporting day(s) on the TV!

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First a complete clear out of items to be stored elsewhere, the remainder sat outside waiting while I brushed and swept, disappearing in a cloud of dust sending any resident spiders heading for cover deep in any vacant nook or cranny.

An old table I up-cycled years ago was to become – with modification – my desk, all I needed was an upright chair to sit on……. Oh the beauty of the internet, at the touch of a button – or two – a second-hand furniture store was located in Dorchester not far from us.

Dorchester Curiosity Centre trading from the Old Bus Depot. An Aladdin’s cave greeted us as we moved from room to room full with furniture, bric-a-brac, collectibles and more. It was easy to lose yourself there for a couple of hours especially with the added temptation of a hot cuppa and glorious home-made cakes to die for!

In the end decisions had to be made and we settled on a painted chair for the desk, a comfy ‘Lloyd loom’ style chair to relax in and an old milking stool to use as a side table.

My ‘haven’ is now complete with gardening, art and writing books/magazines, there is power too extending the hours I can indulge out there!

IMG_1806This last weekend although sunny, was cooled by a chilly breeze, the welcome 12mm of rain did much to perk things up! The Dahlias in the cutting patch have come through the winter and are showing strong – if a little munched – growth, hopefully the late addition of copper rings will help keep invadors at bay! Long-suffering has given my retreat a fresh coat of paint – giving up Saturday afternoon sport fixtures to do so!

The autumn sown onion sett’s planted before our Road Trip have not been a success, appearing to my eye neither strong or prolific, in our reduced plot there is not room for more! Saturday I succumbed although ‘May is not out’ to the planting in the veg plot of runner & french beans, along with nurtured flower seedlings for the cutting patch. The courgettes will be waiting another week yet though!

The fleece is ready should frost threaten although the weather man is predicting rain for the days ahead. Fingers crossed then!

Some new – car boot and bargain basement new – additions to the garden for the toddler – from the house of two halves in Cyprus. Hopefully come August when next she comes to stay pressure on the wooden duck in the border who is almost headless from being continually thrown down the slide will be relieved.

Some May flowers in the garden……….

And a Sunday morning breezy steep coastal walk to keep the hip from getting complacent at West Bay Bridport……..