What It Took To Become A Gardener

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I’ve tried my hand at gardening a good few times since moving to a house with a garden, ooh, 8 years ago. And it’s time for me to hold up my hands and say: it’s just not working for me right now.

It’s not that I don’t like the expanse of green that sits outside my back door – on the contrary I love it. My current garden is absolutely huge, the previous owners having bought up a patch of two other gardens to make it bigger. I almost need to have six more children to fill it up (hahahah funny one). The children love playing out there, I love BBQing on the patio, there’s nothing like hanging my clothes out to dry. But I just hate gardening.

The problem is that I don’t know the difference between weeds and plants, blackberries and poison. Mowing the lawn makes my hayfever flare up for hours afterwards and my big green wheelie bin never seems to be big enough for the things I need to get in it.

I tried planting flowers once, too, but that didn’t exactly work out I forgot which were supposed to go in at the different times of year and didn’t see anything happen for ages… and then we moved anyway. So that was a pointless exercise.

So this summer I have come up with a solution: MY MUM, and one of Tesco’s mowers!

She’s a brilliant gardener but more than that she seems to love it. She’s been out there hacking through the meadow-height grass with my new mower, going crazy with the weedkiller and planting up a storm (she got some bulbs from Spalding Bulb that are low-maintenance, even for me. Elfie planted them up!). She even seems to manage the green bin (AMAZING) and has suggested a brilliant idea for a patio extension – such things being important when you have two little ones with little scooters.

All it took for me to love gardening was for someone else to come and do it for me. Thanks, mum – you’re the best gardener ever.

Eye Gunk, Sad Faces and Doggies

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What do you do with two children who have conjunctivitis? Because I have no idea.

Ok, mine don’t have conjunctivitis but rather some other -itis (blepheritis?) which seems to be quite similar. Their eyes are swollen, sticky, itchy and look very uncomfortable indeed. I am dreading Hux’s hourly eye sterile eye wipe; this is the boy who will clock you if you try to wipe a bit of banana from the corner of his mouth. He has an impressive right hook for an 11 month old.

Elfie is over the worst but Hux, oh poor Hux really is suffering. He can’t open his eyes in the morning and for the rest of the day they are red, swollen and itchy. We’ve taken him to the doctors twice since Thursday but they maintain he has a viral infection inherited from the nasty cold he’s rocking so there are no drops or antibiotics that will help. I’m not convinced, I’m no doctor but the bad eyes are accompanied by the third bad chest he’s had in the last three months and the past two have only shifted with antibiotics. I really hope I’m proved wrong but I fully predict we’ll be back at the GPs in two days time.

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I also hope that the next time we go to the doctors Elfie doesn’t get her arm stuck in this contraption. It was touch-and-go for a while as I worked out how to remove it but one swift tug and she was home free. There were tears though. Hers, Hux’s and mine, though mine were possibly from laughter. I had to laugh otherwise I would have cried… I don’t know how she gets in these situations but they are bloody funny.

Anyway, for the moment we’re just to ride it out, keeping Hux topped up with fluids and way too many episodes of Balamory (what can I say? He loves it, and at least it’s not Mr Tumble). He’s also back to having 2 x two hour naps a day which must mean he’s feeling pretty rough and I’m trying to use the time to do special things with Elfie. But every single thing I do with her now also has to involve her new friend Doggie, which is interesting because she doesn’t like real dogs (“don’t like him, he’s too friendly Mummy!”). Elfie insisted Doggie have lunch with us today which was one of those moments you imagine your hypothetical child doing when they’re growing in your womb and then forget about until it actually happens. Lovely.

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Apparently Doggie loved his toast but not so much the avocado or salmon, which works for me as nobody wants to scrub messy food from a stuffed toy. I do suspect this originated from Elfie’s own taste in food though: she loves avocado and salmon and is pretty ambivalent about toast. Lucky Doggie, lucky Elfie.

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We did make it out of the house yesterday to the Garden Centre, my new favourite place. I could have spent hours wandering around if the children weren’t so grumbly (and by children I mean husband). Hux spent a pleasant couple of hours in the Baby Bjorn snuggling into my chest – something I enjoyed hugely – and Elfie was enamoured by the chickens, fish and flowers. I predict we’ll be back regularly, which makes me feel both excited and old. We actually bought compost. COMPOST.

Today begins a week of single parenting for me as Will is off in That Big City working hard on a few shows he has coming up this weekend. I’m feeling slightly hysterical – hats off to anyone who does this on a permanent/regular basis, you’re all warriors – and I predict I will need a Wagamamas by the end of the week to reward myself for surviving. That is, if I survive. If it gets to Friday and you haven’t heard from me, send help (or vodka). I picked the wrong week to pack up my wine habit, that’s for sure.

I just noticed that I put my jumper on the wrong way round this morning. That feels like a fitting metaphor for the day.

Gardening For Beginners

IMG_9372This weekend the sun came out! So our family, along with (probably) every single other family in the country, put our summer clothes on, dragged the patio furniture out of retirement and made Pimms. We stopped short of a Barbecue – only just – but did the other sunny Sunday activity beloved of people with outside space and kids. Gardening.

I’ve literally never done any sort of gardening in my whole life. I’ve scoffed at people who enjoy gardening because, really, why would you enjoy it? But the thing is, ever since we moved to our new house I GET IT. I really get it. I had a lovely day digging over soil, pulling weeds, thinking about herbs, planting flowers. It was ace.

It helps that Elfie’s in her element outdoors. She’s always begging to go in the garden, loves to play hide-and-seek, kick a ball around, wear her wellies. She delights in the fresh air, goodness knows who she gets this from but it ain’t me.IMG_9382 IMG_9381 IMG_9378

She spent a while moving stones for me and getting mega excited at the sight of worms and ladybirds (“I LOVE WORMS MUMMY!!!”) before getting all industrious and taking her doll for a walk around the perimeter.

IMG_9400 IMG_9399 IMG_9398I got to work (I have a gardening blister!!) on the beds and then I concentrated on the weeds, flowers and herbs.

This was the garden when we started.

IMG_9388 IMG_9387 IMG_9389 IMG_9390Now look! Transformed into a delightful patch of loveliness!

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IMG_9406OK, OK, so it doesn’t look hugely different, but I’m sure it will when things start to blossom and bloom. I planted up some bulbs from some house flowers as well as some Sweet Williams and those blue ones you can see.  I also planted Thyme, Coriander and Rosemary in the sunnier part of the large bed with Mint and Sage arriving to join them later this week. It was brilliant!

I don’t know why I had such a great time in the garden. Maybe it was a combination of the peacefulness, being able to concentrate on such a physical task with a beginning and an end? My lovely helper definitely contributed of the enjoyment of it, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to get my hands blistered and dirty again.

And as for Hux? Well, he enjoyed some of the gardening. He spent the first two hours asleep and the last hour eating grass. A success for sure.

slugAs I’m a total novice at this – I have been Googling “How do you do Gardening?” – I’d love any recommendations for blogs or resources I can use with my garden this summer.