Published!

There are no words to describe the immense joy I feel about appearing in the My Real Garden book, alongside its creators Ann-Marie Powell and Tamsin Westhorpe, and the rest of the contributors in our My Real Garden community.

Writing a book is tough enough, but when you factor in the pressure of having to crowdfund the publishing costs, collating contributions and an impossibly tight deadline, it’s a miracle that we have it in our hands at all!

I have nothing but pride and admiration for what our community have achieved, together, for Greenfingers Charity. It’s a beautiful memento of a life-affirming year, and I am just so privileged to be bound together with you all.

When I began creating my garden, I never imagined that it would be leading a chapter on Tropical Retreats and the close connections it would bring me, be that on Instagram or the gardening community as a whole.

In these pages I take you on a journey through my garden and discuss my love of lush, architectural foliage, planting for pollinators, my passion for ponds and healthy, happy hedgehogs. I even share my tips for growing space-saving vegetables.

Compassion for my community shines through, be that my love for Leasowes Walled Garden or how a pandemic inspired the Plant a Thought project, launched to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week.

I am now part of a philanthropic phenomenon, where kindness is king and people in the community send you handmade bunting to help you celebrate this special occasion. WE DID IT!

The book will be exclusively launched through British Garden Centres Group. Retail outlet details can be found on http://britishgardencentres.com. It will go on general release through Amazon from 1st April 2021.

Your purchase will support Greenfingers – the wonderful UK charity that funds magical gardens in children’s hospices, giving life-limited children and their families precious time together.

Chaos v. Creativity

ChaosVCreativity

Autumn has definitely been in the air, today, and a whole new layer is beginning to reveal itself. I’ve also given myself a moment to sit in my new happy place and respond to the change in weather and pace that is beginning to creep up on us. Long nights and log fires may not be far off, whether we’re ready for them or not.

Part of me is craving for a restful phase and also the opportunity to press pause on that relentless pursuit of perfection, which is always a little out of reach. There is always something to be pruned and preened, which often prevents us time-poor Gardeners from taking a break or appreciating our gardens as they are.

So, instead of berating myself for falling short and failing to find the time to titivate, I’m celebrating NOW and reminding myself that what I’ve created out of chaos was once just a dream. Chaos and creativity can coexist. We, and the universe, are proof of that. Chaos is not our enemy. It’s our opportunity to create!

Heartfelt Haven

Meadow

One makeshift meadow sown, and a bug hotel in progress. It’s ironic that it looks heart-shaped from this angle, given that it’s in what you’d call dry shade for the second half of the afternoon, and I could be heading for heartbreak…

But, as there is a real buzz about bees at the moment, I decided to dedicate some of my time towards clearing an awkward and unloved plot of land, at the bottom of the garden, and have set to work transforming it into a wildlife haven.

I’m so pressed for time, right now, and feel like I’m trying to save the world – let alone the bees – but this is really important and if we all do our bit, we will be creating much-needed habitat for our floral foragers and creating a corridor from garden to garden.

The location, it has to be said, is not ideal: it’s at the bottom of a South West facing garden, flanked by a sizeable Silver Fir, and fencing, but as the only available option I’ve done my best to maximise sun exposure, pondering from different angles, and siting key elements accordingly.

It’s far from finished, but as one of 2200 citizen scientists I’ve made a commitment to Blooms for Bees, participating in their Dahlia Mignon Series Trial 2017, and will also be following the Wild About Gardens ‘Bee Creative’ campaign with interest. Watch this space for more news or follow progress on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Darren

Seek solace in your surroundings.

IMG_3042

It might have been a dreadful and dreary day, in the UK, but there is no excuse not to get outside, if you have the means to do so, especially when gardens are all about hope and new beginnings. Despite those events that are outside of our control, sometimes we need to seek solace in our surroundings and remind ourselves that it’s still a beautiful world, however small your particular corner of the world might be. When things seem slightly out of kilter, or your mind is in overdrive, tap into those natural resources that bring you back to a place of safety.

Tomorrow and Friday, I’ll be taking my place on Thrive’s Training and Education programme, learning how to use Social and Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) to benefit people with Mental Health Support Needs. I look forward to increasing my awareness of the importance of horticultural programming and planning, for garden projects, and sharing this experience with you.

Darren