Day 11 of the 100 day project

Today I thought I would tell you a bit more about why I have embarked on the 100 day project.  Gardening and blogging have been long standing passions for me and over the last three or four years I have in some ways lost touch with them both.  Gardening was the first to go.  We have nearly two acres here.  When we first came there was an intensively gardened kitchen garden and one or two small areas which were planted up but most of the land was a large field with two apple trees, one walnut tree and a lot of rough grass.  For the first six or seven years we were here making a garden out of a field became an obsession.  I read about plantsand gardens night and day.  I tested the soil.  I sketched and researched and made plant lists and planted and planted.  Some of that was successful: the fruit trees grew in the little orchard, the mixed native hedging grew and so did the native trees.  Daffodils grew although there were never enough.  Some things died.  Quite a lot of things died to be honest.  Even though I knew our soil is thin and stony and tried hard to grow things that would thrive in our conditions lots of things didn't.  It is quite high up here.  Some things are entirely happy but lots of plants, even those which I thought would survive, never managed to get their roots down. 

After my mother died suddenly life changed in so many ways.  We spent a lot of time away trying to support my father as he faced the hard decline of motor neurone disease and that took us physically away a lot and also used up the energy and passion that had been going elsewhere.   The garden had to take not second place but last place.  There were people: as well as my father there was my father in law who was living with us, our children and grandchildren, and my sister and her family who were also deep in the struggle to support my dad.  I look back at my blog and see that before mum died I regularly spent two or three days a week working in the garden.  That seems extraordinary to me now.  But after Mum died that stopped.  Gradually the garden, always a wild and rural affair, became full of weed and overgrowth.  It was a field and it wants to return to a field.  Creeping buttercup, couch grass and bindweed choked everything out.  It got to the stage where I didn't even want to walk around it.  The sense of it all falling apart depressed me and yet there was no point in depressing myself.  It was just soil and plants.  Dad ceased to be able to walk, to talk, to eat and still we went backwards and forwards for more than two years because even then you could see that our presence mattered.  Ian's father died.  The wind blew very cold.

It is two years now since my father died and during that time I have not returned to my passion for the garden.  I don't mean that I have not gardened.  I have weeded and wandered a bit.  We have some help in the garden once a fortnight and I have appreciated the difference it makes to have someone else mulching and clearing out the fruit beds.  But it is as if, having wrenched myself away from the garden, I can't love it again. 

And I have also found over the last year or so that I am ceasing to blog too.  Now both these things have given me enormous pleasure over the last ten years.  I have met some great friends through blogging, both face to face and virtual.  I keep on limping back to blogging because I know that I love to write and that my life would be immeasurably poorer without it but somehow I have lost my voice.

I came across the 100 day project on Instagram.  It seems designed principally for artists but for some reason it really struck a chord with me.  Both things and people respond to attention.  What, I thought, if I gave my garden some attention on every day that I possibly could for one hundred days?  And what if I gave my blog the same attention by recording the process?  Maybe I would fall back in love with both of them.  And if I didn't, well my garden would be tidier and I would at least have flexed my writing muscles.

So here we are.  It is day 11.  Have I fallen in love again?  No.  But I am enjoying almost the intellectual and even the physical challenge of working out what I can do in the garden with a limited amount of time and energy right now.  And this is the right time of year to do this.  I have always been a spring gardener.  I love the colour and energy and life of new growth and a new season.

Will I keep it up for one hundred days?  I don't know.  But that it why I am trying.

Comments

  1. Life happens and things change for us all. It is sometimes difficult to go back and start over again, but giving it a try to find the love again after heartbreaking times is admirable. I have always loved gardening, but all the work involved now has me considering cutting back. My enthusiasm has waned. However, this too long winter has inspired me, and yesterday I was out cleaning the garden beds and totally ignored all my aches and pains.

    Keep it up, I know you will be happy with the results.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment! I do agree about going back. Sometimes it is simply not possible but it will be interesting to see what happens with the 100 day project. Maybe I will find a new way of connecting!

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  2. Do you know Freda? at https://livesimplysimplylive.weebly.com/blog/simplypassionate
    I notice one of your labels is passion. She is addressing that subject as a keen gardener herself (and as a recently bereaved wife). She is a very good and thoughtful writer like yourself.

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    1. I didn't know but I shall certainly go and read her blog. Thank you for the recommendation. It sounds like something I should read.

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  3. I think it is a courageous commitment and good to combine two passions. I am sixty three and just about to retire from a job in the city, it's time. I do think as one gets older that you just can't juggle all the balls. As I say to friends it's not this and that, it's this or that. Things that seemed important aren't as important. Also with all the grief you went through, it takes it's toll, and now is a time of healing.

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    1. Best of luck in the next phase of your life! I do know what you mean about this or that! I find that quite an interesting thing to get my head around. I have always liked biting off more than I can chew and just seeing what happens. Might have to find a new way of doing that!

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  4. Bless you, Elizabeth. I don't wonder you've lost your voice, having such loss and the journeys leading up to them. I lost my mom five years ago. Grief looks so different for each one. I didn't know that it would be such a quietness deep down in my soul. My words are trapped down there, too profound and private to come out. And juxtaposed with that is the great joy that has come with the birth of my grandchildren, which is what you've experienced as well. I can wax eloquent on that subject! I carry the joy of my mom each day, hearing her words of encouragement. I love your 100 day project, and have enjoyed checking in daily here and on Instagram. Best wishes on rekindling your passions or finding brand new ones.

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    1. Thank you Melanie. I found your phrase about "a quietness deep down" struck a chord. Yes, I understand that. I also understand about carrying your mother with you. I am very aware of what my mother would have said and grateful that her voice in my head is a cheerful and positive one.

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  5. I've just caught up on your last five or six days at this -- Bravo! You've passed the 10% mark now, and more than that, you're 1/3 of the way to what they say it takes to make a habit out of a daily action, right?
    I'm just realizing that your (re-) approach to your garden and to blogging parallels in a way my own recent commitment to finding the beauty in the city's concrete -- as a kind of solace (or perhaps even a reset of my perspective) against some loss I still feel about our move, about leaving behind my own garden, its surroundings. I like the wisdom in looking to the Small for guidance, rather than becoming despondent or overwhelmed by the Big. I suspect that it's a wisdom we will need increasingly at our age. These losses will only compound themselves, we know. . . and practising the meaningful actions that give us hope, that show us joy, that rekindle a passion for life, that seems like important to me, done five minutes at a time. Thank you for your commitment to offering inspiration.

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    1. I am a great believer in the small and the every day as sources of pleasure. Poached eggs for example are a reliable way of making me smile! I am not sure I can take any credit for a commitment to offering inspiration, although it is a lovely phrase and I wish I could! I think I am just curious to find out if there is a way back or even through to things which I have loved or if their time has gone and I need to look to something else. Time and daily attention will tell.

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  6. We do change and these things may be gone, for you. It happens and it can be a relief to let go.

    But I do find myself thinking...'I wonder how she's gardening? Is she really doing it as easily as possible??' Makes me want to come and see -but I guess you've read my books, so you know what's possible.......

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    1. It's a tricky question Anne. I have read your books and I have tried to shed a lot of the work. For instance, I used to run a cutting garden, growing annuals from seed every year. Now of the eight squares in that section of the garden, two have grasses in and four have perennials so there are only two squares for annuals and I buy those in as seedlings. I try only to weed where I really must and there are places now which pretty much look after themselves. I suspect that the way you garden is something that I could get to but our garden is much younger than yours and there are places where the field simply reasserts itself given half a chance, as we found when we couldn't garden it. Ian does all the vegetable gardening now! I am always looking for ways to make it manageable but it still seems to need a lot. Maybe that reflects the fact that when we were making the garden it was not a priority!

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    2. You are in many places then effectively starting a new garden, and if you want to grow a variety of different perennials that is the hardest part and takes time for them to establish and hold their space. Mulch mulch mulch is the only thing and I guess you are doing that.
      Hard to suggest what would help from the other end of Wales! XXx

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    3. Thanks Anne. Yes I am mulching! In fact mulching is the task for today!

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    4. Great -hope the sun comes out for you!

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  7. I am reading your blog first thing in the morning Elizabeth because I am really interested now in where this project will lead you. I am willing you to keep going if you feel able. And if you find it too much then you have learnt that it is not for you anymore and you will move in a different direction.
    I have enjoyed all your writing to date by the way. Not just this project.
    Mary

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    1. Thank you Mary, both for commenting and for the encouragement to keep going! Today is a dank and cold day up here and not the kind that tempts you outside. I might reward myself if I manage to do anything at all with a trip to the garden centre!

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  8. My advice? Imagine that you have just inherited this garden. Get your sketch book out and plan a garden suitable for your needs now and as you age. One that will make your heart sing and not be a burden. Let the field be a field! Get sheep, goats, let it out. It is your garden for you to enjoy.
    JennyC

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    1. I totally see where you are coming from Jenny. It might take me a while to get my head around the implications of that though as the garden is quite young and has been created by us so there are things that feel quite important to me about it! Might almost be easier if it had been someone else's creation!

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  9. We have been gardening here for three years - and the camera shows me that 'what I expect to see' isn't here. So I am picking on bits, and reworking them. Today the clumps of Cyperus which are smothering the pond and the hippo. Two slender bunches now.

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    1. Picking on bits is I suppose another way of slowly eating the elephant! I think my project is a way of refining even the picking on bits still further. I have always worked fine with trying to concentrate on one area at a time but that seems to have got away from me this time so this "just do one small thing" might perhaps get me back to being able to see the slightly bigger picture!

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