Thursday, November 29, 2012

Something yellow?

I believe it is called the 'sun' and it made an appearance today - at last. That and an absolute stonking frost. So the lanes are skating rinks, the last of the leaves have gone from my apple tree and the birds are starting to look hungry. I have seen more fieldfares and redwings this autumn/winter than I have seen for a long time but then the winds are in the right direction. And we have also been visited by that delightful small bird, the firecrest, who has been searching up and down my apple tree for the small insects it loves to dine on. My favourite winter plant Cornus, Midwinter Fire is just coming into its own. The leaves go a delightful, bright pale yellow (sounds a direct contradiction in terms but isn't) and its stems are the most stunning orangey red. I use it in virtually every planting that I do as I find its cheerful stems, and the fact that it does not get as large as other Cornus an invaluable addition to the winter garden. As it is now pitch dark I cannot post a picture, but I will endeavour to do so in the next few days when hopefully we will have some more sunshine!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

At last.....

Well it took 4 years almost to the day of sheer bloody minded determination. I never in my wildest imagining thought it would take that long, and cause so much heart ache. But then I also underestimated the impact it had. I am talking about the Combat Stress Therapeutic Garden, the concept for which I first had in August 2008 when I approached Toby Elliott, then Chief Executive of Combat Stress. A mad woman on a mission I must have appeared at the time, as we bullied people for donations, assistance and help. But then PTSD is a bit like that really. It raises its head when you least expect it, isn't easy to deal with, is little understood in reality and means different things to different people. What the garden did was help raise awareness of the problem. We handed out about 18,000 leaflets at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2010, and bearing in mind we only probably gave away 1 leaflet to every three people who walked through we did amazingly well.
And now the garden is where it is supposed to be; in the courtyard at Combat Stress' headquarters in Leatherhead. And it has transformed a barren, bare, bleak space into something fit for healing and peace. Every person involved in this, especially the unsung heroes, anonymous donors, hard working behind the scenes staff take a bow. You deserve it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I haven't vanished

Just in case you thought I had completely vanished off the face of the earth I thought I ought to let you know that you will be disappointed! I just have been absolutely manic trying to finish projects off against overwhelming downpours of tropical severity (and not completely succeeding it has to be said) and also setting up a charity.... More of that later on. I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this weather. On the one hand we needed the rain (remember April when we were officially in drought) and on the other hand I am absolutely fed up of squelching through mud in steel cap boots trying to plant when the ground is so waterlogged everything acts like the clay on a potters wheel. The only good thing is that we do not need to irrigate; the only concern is that the smaller plants going in now might rot off. Only time will tell.