Garden happenings.

Girl child has fully embraced gardening this year and asks “can we garden mummy?” as if she is asking for chocolate treats. Win! Bits of tidying, planning and some planting have been like a salve for our occasional tempestuous relations when the weather has allowed. I learned last year, that gardening with a small child involves a large degree of letting go. Gardening is always teaching me about life. I learn to grow, nurture, watch, be patient and trust. There no other option really, nature will have her way.



I’m not setting high hopes for vegetables this year, save for trying a few seeds I have left from last year – beetroots, lettuce and salad leaves. I’m focussing on the herbs this year. I have a small patch of the sunny border which has accidentally evolved into a herb patch over the years. This year I’m sowing some annuals like parsley and coriander, but having listened to Gardeners Question Time on Friday afternoon, James Wong suggested that germination of herbs is so hit and miss, the better approach may be to buy supermarket herbs and then divide up the plants from the pot and pot them on. The phrase “it couldn’t be simpler” drives me insane when applied to anything, but growing basil is my gardening nemesis and in fact, it seems anything could be simpler. I have read about a method (also using supermarket herbs) where you make a clean transverse (I imagine) snip in a stem and then pop it into a glass of water until it sprouts roots, then pot it up. It’s got to beat poor germination, damping off, growing leggy or just plain  s l o w  growth, so I’ll give it a try.

Elsewhere in the garden, the concrete area outside the back door is looking happy now that the evergreen shrubs I potted up last year have established, reducing the need for loads of pricey annuals and keeping the area looking cheerful all year round. The lavenders which I gave a good haircut to last summer are also lush with little purple spikes. A friend gave us a lovely but leggy sedum last year, and it has redoubled its energy over the winter and is now growing bushy and bold. All being well there will be a mass of little clusters of bee-friendly flowers later in the summer.



Compost has been a bit of an issue. I prefer to buy peat-free unless I am desperate or completely skint, so I decided this year it was time to harvest the compost bin which has lain abandoned since parenthood came along. I was stopped in my tracks by an apparent Yellow Jacket nest, which by all accounts (Dr. Google) is best left alone until they leave by themselves, usually after a year. I bought New Horizon Organic peat-free multipurpose which has been fine for general garden planting, but I’ve found it moulds over when left in the bag or in the seed pots. My seeds have still germinated but it ain’t pretty. Does anybody have any experience or tips for sowing in peat-free mediums? I know Monty Don says it’s no problem, but I think he blends his own, which is not feasible for those of us not producing acres-worth of garden waste!






Looking back at this time last year, so much more is still to come into flower – It’s been such a cold May!

How does your garden grow? Any tips to share? Please leave a comment below!


A visit to Yorkshire Lavender.

In a sleepless haze of nap-less desperation I bundled the girl-child into the car in the hope she would fall asleep. I wound through lanes and villages around York for half an hour before she finally closed her eyes. Being lost* I carried on driving looking for somewhere to pull in and close my own eyes for half an hour. We happened upon Yorkshire Lavender in Terrington near York, and it was the perfect spot for a bit of aimless wandering once she awoke.



Obviously we bypassed the natural splendours and headed straight for the tea room, which serves an assortment of savoury and sweet foods. Not all the sweet treats are laced with lavender, but we chose the lavender and raspberry Bakewell tart, and a lavender and blueberry muffin for the girl-child.





The lavenders are looking lush with new growth at this time of year, but no flower spikes yet. Still, there are enough spring flowers to make the gardens worthwhile if you love flowers. And taking picture of flowers… Ahem.




Coming as I do, from a hilly Pennine village, I find a proper hilltop hard to come by in these parts *sobs*. Terrington sits atop the Howardian Hills and the views from Terrington Bank back towards York are stunning, especially on a day like this one. The gardens are well maintained and landscaped in a way that I think makes them really toddler friendly, but without losing any adult appeal. We had enormous fun running up and down the “wobbly wobbly path” and when I stopped to take pictures, I knew that the girl-child couldn’t really roam too far out of my sight.

The staff were really friendly and happy to indulge the girl-child in a bit of “helping” with the weeding. Visitors are actively encouraged to touch the plants, and girl-child really enjoyed being able to wander among the lavenders and the gravel paths that wind through the herbaceous borders. At the bottom of the hill is a small paddock with a herd of deer, and along with the sculptures, giant gates and pergolas, it’s a really fun, sensory way to spend an hour or two with an active toddler. As well as the tea rooms there are a gift shop and a modest plant nursery, but entry to the gardens is free.

*I’m never lost. I’m just enjoying being on an unfamiliar road.

Mami 2 Five

Happy Rose Sunday!

(For tomorrow, of course… Don’t anybody say I’m not ahead of the game, oh no!)

For years I bucked against Mothers Day (and Father’s Day and Valentines Day et al) on the grounds that it was just an over-comercialised money making opportunity for fat cats. Then I became a mother, and now I get it. What it really means. (Also, how bad was that of me to not get it before. Sorry Mum and Dad.) I don’t mean I get how lovely it is to get cards and flowers and stuff, or that I wasn’t grateful before. But now I really get how important it is to feel that all the dirty mothering you do, the daily grind, all that being a mother involves – literally, the blood sweat and tears, is recognised.


In the spirit of self-love I want to celebrate this part of myself which although I found incredibly difficult to settle into. I want to celebrate the fact that, yes, I am doing a pretty good job. It’s no underestimation to say, I think it’s been the making of me (who’d have though it?)


Mothering Sunday is traditionally a Christian celebration which began around the 17th Century. It was the second Sunday in Lent and it was an opportunity to celebrate the “mother church” and for families to come together to be with their families. It had also been known as Simnel Sunday or Refreshment Sunday in recognition of the traditional Easter cake which may have been baked, and a lessening of lenten austerity in celebration of fellowship and family. My favourite alternative name though, is Rose Sunday, for the posies of wild flowers that would have been collected by people as they travelled home and then presented to all women in the church congregation. I can just imagine the churches festooned with beautiful spring flowers. I love that the flowers would have been given to all the women in the congregation too. You don’t need to have birthed a baby to be able to Mother somebody. Sisters, aunties, friends and neighbours all contribute to childcare in communities here and around the world. And what adult woman has not cried upon the shoulder of a friend when their own mother was far away or no longer with them?


Finally, I’ve been feeling recently, that all the residual teenage cynicism has left me feeling a bit bereft of celebrations in life and I intend to change that! So, any festival that is essentially based on family, cakes and flowers has got to have a big thumbs up from now on!

Thank you to all the Mums who have mothered me. You know who you are, you beautiful bosomed creatures! X

I’d love to know if you celebrate Mother’s Day, and if so, how will you express your thanks this weekend? Do you celebrate your just own mother or “other mothers” who have been a big part of your life? Leave comments below!


In pictures // February

Before we get too far into March I wanted to share my highlights of February. It really felt like we started to climb with weak and weary limbs out of our hibernation holes. The slightly longer days and delicate spring flowers and shoots are bringing us back to life. Slowly.

1 / Birthday visit to Yorkshire WIldlife park for my birthday treat.

2 / Woodland adventuring with the little’un

3 / First daffodil in our garden – the girl-child and I planted these bulbs together last year 🙂

4 / Gorgeous wintery sunset, no?

5,6,7,8,9 / Parkland adventures at St. Mary’s Abbey and the Museum Gardens. That day felt like the first day of Spring – warm, earthy smells, rising sap. Mmmm!

10, 11 /  Getting crafty with the girl-child. These were her first totally independent artworks. I loved art as a child so it fills my heart to see her enjoying it too. Happy times!

How was February in your neck of the woods?