Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Day 121 - Wild cowslips & hairy cows.

Wednesday 1st May


Happy May Day everyone and I do hope you have had some sunshine today.  Our little island has had some but the chilly wind remains.  Not at my best today so was kind of forced to slow up a bit which always makes me a bit cross.  On the whole I try not to do 'cross' because it is bad for the soul.  Eventually managed out of bed and on with the day.  Thankfully my mind still works at a normal rate to I try and use the time to bring things together.  Today was a good day for that. 

Keeping with a broadly botanical theme I planned the return of our annual plant sale.  For various reasons this had dropped off the schedule but I am thrilled that it is back.  It is a bit weather dependent but if the sun shines we usually have a good turn out and lots of our lovely plants find new homes.  I prefer this approach to selling through local shops as I get to talk to our customers and I always feel the plants have a better chance of success because of those chats.  So, the second weekend in June is all set for our plant sale and this year we are serving tea and cake and taking donations for the Butterfly Tree charity.  I will also pass on some money from the sales where I can. 

Of course, this year we will also have the studio that you can't really miss as it is en route to the tunnel.  I am going to put some lovely crafts with a botanical theme in the studio and take sales from there as well.  I am just inviting two people to provide work for this but I think the impact will be guaranteed because I have selected those that best fit in with what I will be doing.  On this occasion I am going to focus on dried flower wreaths.  Now I realise that might not sound very exciting but they can be quite beautiful if done right.  I had just better do them right then.  They will act as an early introduction to the willow ones we hope to have in time for Christmas. 

On days like today there is very little to be done but give in and plan something a bit more sedate.  The answer is not to lie in bed, unless absolutely necessary.  The answer is to keep moving so Pete and I went for a gentle stroll around Brodick Castle gardens.  You will probably know that it is the place I return to over and over again.  It is always such a delight.  The castle is owned by the National

Trust of Scotland and has just been nominated as their flagship property.  As a result it is about to undergo a multi-million pound make over.  I could do with a bit of that myself!  I am going to keep pace with the National Trust and photograph how it changes over the next few months or possibly years.  I do hope they manage to maintain the essence that is 'Brodick Castle' with all their commercial plans. I will be watching....

We sat just out of the wind but in the afternoon sun and felt very lucky indeed.  The fact that I don't really work for anyone else means I don't have to take any sick days I just slow down a bit.  I am not sure you could rush round the gardens even if you wanted to.  There are far too many 'stop and stare' moments to behold.  We soaked up that warming sun before heading off to their plant sale. 

As the boys were off playing badminton with their Granny and Hamish we felt we had all the time in the world.  The trouble with slowing down is it is hard work getting going again.

The morning for Pete and the  boys had been full of comparisons in mortality rates and life expectancy and lots of number crunching.  The afternoon was a lovely contrast for all. 

Everything is sprouting up in thee castle gardens including my favourite bronze fennel in the whole world.  Year after year it comes back and it is quite majestic.  For all the captivating colours of the flower beds my eye is always drawn to that bronze fennel.  If you have never grown fennel it is well worth a go this year.  We use the leaves in our salads from about now until the end of autumn.  The season growth then dies back but next spring it is back stronger than ever.  It is best planted out of the prevailing winds because it grows tall and can break in strong winds and that is beyond heart breaking. 

Mine is protected by an old chimney pot with strawberries in - what else?  On Country File a few weeks they featured the desperate state of our horticultural industry with so few young people opting for that career.  It is such a shame but I have very good news.   At the moment the new draft National Curriculum in England and Wales has growing firmly placed for all children to learn about.  The emphasis is on growing their own food and that is even better news.  Growing offers so many skills and lots of interesting knowledge but I also think it is therapeutic.  Let us hope it gives the industry the boost it badly needs.  Growing has been such a massive part of our home schooling and I think Harry's new boss is constantly surprised by just how much he knows.  proud mummy moment!                                              . 


 After a lot of reflecting on my blogging journey so far and some strategic conversations with people I am going to be writing for in the coming months I have already decided on the theme of my daily blog next year.  Yes, there will be a daily blog in 2014.  I am clearly bonkers.  This will run alongside my new website One soul, many hearts.  The theme will be my relationship with Mother Nature and thus is simply called 'A Year with Mother Nature.'

The plan is to pull together all I know and extend this knowing into new areas all under the umbrella of nature.  I have such a wonderful relationship with her and during 2014 I am really going to celebrate it.   It will include posts on growing, foraging, cooking, crafting and education and, at last, it will all be in one place.  The plan is to use the daily posts as starters for ten for an ebook of the same title.  This will then be available on my brand new website One soul, many hearts.  This blog has already spoken to me in terms of telling me where I need to pull things together.  Over the many years of growing and working with Mother Nature I have picked up all sorts of interesting bits and pieces.  This blog and the subsequent book will bring it all together.  I am going into self publishing in a big way following the example set by Waverly Fitzgerald.  She remains my number one guru.  Others come and go but Waverly holds centre stage. 

I am sure most of you will have come across the book entitled 'The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady' by Edith Holden.  We are into guru territory again.  I dip in and out of this book all the time.  May is one of my favourite months of
the year and Edith captures it so very well.  Her first image of the nest full of bird eggs says it all.  All over the island the birds are chatting away and probably flirting outrageously.  Good for them.  May is also the start of wildflower season and I my little cowslips are showing the way this year.  I am cultivating some new wildflowers in the tunnel to add to the meadow as one or two species are taking up far too much room. 

May is also the start of Tussie Mussie season for me.  My little healing posies find their way to people that need them and I am always thrilled to be asked to do them.  Edith Holden taught me how to observe nature many years ago and I visit the book each and every month to remind me what to look out for.  My blog in 2014 couldn't possibly be as vital as her book but I will do my best and try not to let her down. 



My favourite May gems to look out for include -

  • Crab apple blossom
  • Red Campion
  • English Bluebells
  • First yellow buttercups
  • Flowering wild garlic
  • Yellow Heartease
  • The daily sightings of butterflies and bees
  • and so very much more.

Enjoy May!

Just a quick link if you don't mind.  My little write up is in this months digital newspaper for Arran - Voice for Arran - it is the last article so you can read everything else on your scroll down. 

Until tomorrow. xx