Garden-y Bits. Also, Thinky Things, and November.


Take a daydream of lemon balm, a sprig of lavender, a drift of rose petals, a flurry of calendula, a scattering of fallen borage stars, and one tickle of yarrow. Add all this to a corpulent purple teapot, along with boiling hot water.

Steep for as long as you can, but before forgetfulness sets in; and then serve with a jaggard shard of dark almond chocolate, on the side.

A little sweet darkness to balance the captured sunlight and steam. This afternoon, this gentle brew wove together some frayed nerves, and eased a rather virulent bout of hayfever, too.

This is Pierre de Ronsard. He’s a climber, and a poet. Who said boys can’t be gloriously pink and curvy too?

Over the weekend, I re-read, (in two rapturous sittings), a moste beloved fairytale, (Neil Gaiman’s Stardust). And now I’m ensconced with the final installment of Juliet Marillier’s Blackthorn and Grim trilogy.

All the roses that I planted are blooming chez Rapunzel’s. It’s been quite a transformation in the garden, and one that crept up on me.

Speaking of creeping up on me, (apart from Merlin, I mean), despite my attempts to keep things stately, the pace of life is accelerating. My November has always presented itself as a month of trying to get so much done.

Lots of obligations and deadlines, and events to attend. For me, that’s a recipe for overload. Especially the sensory kind. It makes me want to burrow into a cave, (marked “beware, bear in there”), with soft blankets and the sound of rain on the roof. And nothing else. Except perhaps Merlin. Because he finds ways of infiltrating my bear-cave, whatever the fortifications. He curls up against me like a wicked question mark.

Someone told me recently that the more crowded and noisy an environment, the more still and watchful I become. Almost in a state of suspended animation. I think this is true, but it’s not a conscious thing. I often find myself going elsewhere.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I felt frequently overwhelmed. That I was never enough nor giving enough, and thus November became my perfect storm. A recipe for stress and guilt. And all the Not Enough’s in the world.

I used to feel that I always had to care too much, about everything. That not doing so in a hyper-vigilant, take-it-all-upon-myself way would make me uncaring somehow. Or selfish, (that old chestnut). Because despite being (fairly often) mistaken for that most intellectual of creatures – the INTJ, I’m one of those INF’s. We care just a bit too much, and there’s no off button. Idealists don’t like setting limits on caring.

But this November, (and in truth, the past couple of Novembers too), I like where I am with all that business. I’ve worked hard to get to here, these past few years.

Listening to my body, tuning in more to my energy levels, (this one I still slip up on, because excitable), and figuring out what I can do in practical ways. Which also means really looking after myself. Not just faffing about with pots of tea, and the odd bath, (yes helpful, but not really requiring that scary work of boundary setting).

And where there used to be guilt, or a sense of obligation, (and therefore being easy prey for vampires), there’s now room for a whole lot more delight. Even for this big picture woman who wants to pitch in and fix the world.

Now I try to concentrate on what I can get done, and who and with what I can help, within a much more reasonable framework. And I try to listen to that voice that tells me when enough’s enough. Because intuition, (when we really listen), always tell us the truth of the matter, hey?

I let that voice be strong, now. I give it more of what it needs to breathe. For me, that means silence and solitude. Sometimes at inconvenient times. Sometimes at the risk of appearing “rude”.

A willingness to give, to help, and to care for others should come with a manual of how to also look after yourself. But of course, that’s something crucial to learn along the way, hey?

I took so long to learn. I stumble from time to time. November really tests me, and let’s me know how I’m doing with all that.

And because November can fast become a galloping turdball, I find myself spending less time online, (even though there are long hours when that’s required, because of my work).

Also, I’m not doing the NaNoWriMo this year. Apart from not having the time, I don’t feel the need. Didn’t even contemplate it, to be honest. It’s a wonderful thing, but it’s a bit too “noisy” amidst November’s hurly-burly. I’m a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to writing, anyway.

There are dearhearts who share this location on the map with me, and there are friends who live so far from me. Including two whom I’ve known and loved for thirty-two years (yes, that long). And at this stage of life, I get a bit misty-wistful about it all. I would so love to be geographically closer to my friends. To be able to call them up and say, “hey, let’s go drink tea, or wine, or both m’hearties!”.

But I still count myself more than blessed to have their presences in my life – even from a distance, after so long. Just knowing they’re there. Checking in from time to time. There’s a deep abiding with, in that. Because we’ve known each other since we were children. That’s rare and beautiful, non?

And other kindreds too, also far away…how I would love to gather with them around a hearth-fire; with cake, and great cast iron teapots filled with conspiratorial glee. The merriment, and also wisdom I could glean from these Wise Women. BYO brooms and pointy hats.

In What I Did On the Weekend (not) news, I finally got around to kicking off my apple tree “guild”.* This meant measuring out and cutting the edge around the garden border, and then doing the no-dig weed suppression thing – with cardboard.

Um. This is clearly the “before” shot…

Doesn’t look like much at the moment, but add a mountain o’ compost, some comfrey, chives, daffodils, catmint, and possibly pumpkins, and I reckon it’ll be champion. 

Hopefully I will be able to show you some decent progress in months to come.

However, I can show you a proper “before” and “after” garden story…

This is in April of this year, after I cleared this spot (in front) of a whole lot of erigeron daisy. I then added an eye-watering amount of compost. Soon after this photo was taken I also planted some nasturtiums and foxgloves. Also, soon after this photo was taken the Slug Army marched on their stomachs, (see what I did there?) and ate my coriander plant. Behind the little fence, in the Herb Garden General I sowed a heap of wildflower seeds, and planted out more herbs. 

And, the “after” party…(it does look like a party is going on in there)


The black seat posted in the photo above is in there somewhere.

Amazing what a bit of poo, and Spring will do.**

What follows, my dears, is the sting in the scorpion’s tail, and in this little tale also. But scorpions are misunderstood little creatures. I have befriended the odd scorpion in my garden. They are not wantonly aggressive, but they are fierce when they need to protect themselves and their young…

For those of you who are citizens, and voting this week in this moste momentous of elections, I wish you well and all the best.

These kinds of events tend to be mad and circus-y the world over, but I’ve been quite stunned this time around by the ferocious lack of reasoning, the absurdity, as well as the viciousness that’s been unleashed. Fear and tribal hatred have gained more traction than they deserve.

I’ve been asked, as an Australian citizen, what business it is of mine, this US election? Well, apart from the fact that I doth not move in apolitical circles,*** Australia is utterly enmeshed with the US. This is particularly in regards to its security and defence in the region, (South China Sea, anyone?), and its foreign policy in general.

However, aside from the fact that the US election always matters in crucial ways to Australia (more than we’d like it to), it actually impacts a lot of people the world over. And this time it really, really matters to an awful lot of people.

We’re all connected, after all. And it feels personal on so many levels. This one is different. This is an election in which many who don’t even have US citizenship, nor bide there, feel invested.

And as much as I want to look at all the pretty flowers instead of all the ugly, I wouldn’t be very proud of myself if, on the eve of this election, I just buried my head in the roses and said nothing at all. Because this business doesn’t sit right with me. At all.

I wouldn’t be me. And me is not nearly as worried about offending people with my opinions as I am about hurting them in other ways. Two different beasts, I find.

So, two candidates. One deeply flawed, yes. But the other option is basically Voldemort with hair. Soberingly, many of us never took him seriously, at first. Like Hitler. We thought him some kind of criminally insane Court Jester that the civilised world would dismiss as a (horrible) joke.

But our culture of narcissism created this monster. And now we’re teetering on the edge of darkness.

Many of us care a great deal. I just hope enough of us do. Because it’s not too late at this point.

So, best of luck, and may all your gods be with you. And for the sake of us all, hopefully some good old-fashioned commonsense, too.

Wishing you love and tea, (also possibly gin), and lots of flowers.

And more love. There’s always more of that to be had. xx



*permaculture speak for a garden wherein plants work together cooperatively providing nutrients to one another, and helping with disease and pest control, thus forming a “guild”, or helpful community.

** Can you tell I’m set to be the next Poet Laureate?

***I’m just uppity that way.

14 thoughts on “Garden-y Bits. Also, Thinky Things, and November.

  1. Thank you for not shying away from mentioning it … A sobering reality indeed, this election, and the import is has, globally. …. Where I live, record number of voters have done so early (myself included), which is heartening. I always feel better about an election that has a high turnout. At least it shows people care, you know? (I know that y’all are required to vote, but it’s not a requirement here. I honestly wish it were).


    1. That is heartening, Ellie! Early voting and a high turnout demonstrates that a lot of people do care, and recognise how crucial it is to vote now.

      And although we have compulsory voting here in Australia, sadly we’ve made some very poor decisions (Tony Abbott was our PM until very recently, heaven help us!). But yes, at least we’re required to make a decision on some level regarding the governing of this nation.

      All the very best to you and yours – our thoughts are with you over there. xx


  2. Your garden is a thing of magical wonder. I am in love with it.

    Thank you for writing about the election. I wish all the world could have a vote in it. I hate to think of how my future is being decided by racist sexist ignorant angry white men in Middle America – because it really does feel like everyone’s future is at stake here. I read the other day an op-ed piece by a political analyst who said the world was already in the early stages of WWIII but we just hadn’t recognised it yet. While it doesn’t feel quite that dangerous to me (albeit I live in a quiet little corner far from the madding crowd, and I’m not hugely informed) I genuinely fear what Trump might cause.He’s criminal (Voldemort with hair – lol, perfect!) and on top of that he demonstrates early signs of dementia. If it was just a matter of some small country which didn’t have the power to obliterate us all, then I could laugh at the whole spectacle.

    Anyway, I could rave about it for hours. Hopefully tomorrow night we’ll all be able to breathe again.


    1. Yes to all you say above. And I really feel that this whole insane carnival has highlighted just how much of our civilisation is a veneer, and that beneath the surface there’s a boiling savagery and fear that threatens to overturn the apple cart if we feed that impulse.

      I don’t mean to be negative, because I do believe that we humans strive for more – for love, and beauty, and kindness. But these events – that man – to me is all the more evidence of what we must never take for granted. That we can never assume that we won’t go backwards. That there is a point to caring and wanting something more evolved and compassionate. That we can make a difference.

      I’m optimistic that things will swing in favour of sanity and reason. But I suppose we’ll see.

      And on another note, thankyou for your words about my garden – this Spring has been so wet that it really has worked wonders here. xx


  3. Your garden is georgeous…I can enjoy watching yours grow while mine is sleeping. Plus, I’m still in the building stages…the visions in my head will take some time to implement.

    Thank you for your thoughts on our election…it has been extremely nasty this year, but I think I say that every time. And I agree that she is deeply flawed, but at least her message was one of hope while his was no more than hate and fear mongering. For the life of me, I cannot understand how he got the nomination or why anyone would vote for him now.

    I’ll have to go look up this trilogy of Juliett Marillier’s…I have her Sevenwaters series which I absolutely adore…especially the first one.


    1. Thankyou Kathy, for your words about my garden : ) I was blessed when I moved here to inherit an established garden with lots of trees, but there’s always room for visions and plans…I believe that’s a big part of gardening, hey?

      “And I agree that she is deeply flawed, but at least her message was one of hope…”. Absolutely! And reason, and intelligence, and properly formed policies, and a whole raft of things that make her the only sane choice. All the best to you.

      I’ve enjoyed a lot of Juliet Marillier’s series – including her YA stuff. The Blackthorn and Grim trilogy has been quite enjoyable – the title characters are really well-drawn. I’ve enjoying the final installment perhaps best of all the three. xx


  4. i literally GASPed at your before and after flower garden photos!! my WORD, how positively gorgeous!!!! i didn’t know that about the “guild” but i’m moste intrigued as fruit trees are at the top of next year’s planting list….

    thank you for mentioning the election – i didn’t feel up to it, although it’s weighing VERY heavily on my mind and heart. imagine the thrill of being just north of the border? i wonder would he fancy a wall along the 49th as well?

    seriously, though….it’s frightening on so many levels, not the least of which, no matter the outcome, the lunacy won’t be over. I’m hopeful that common sense will prevail and he won’t get in….but even if he doesn’t, he won’t go quietly. And he’s given voice and permission to a whole boatload of Crazy that’s apparently endemic in the US. I honestly didn’t believe he’d get this far…it all seemed a ridiculous joke..and yet, here we are. *shudder*

    good on you for taking back your November. i had a bit of a meltdown this weekend over having Done Too Much in the prior two weeks but was also rather proud of myself for speaking up and making it clear what i needed to recover. Thusly, it was gardening and general domestickal potterings. just the ticket.

    much love to you, dearest one…xoxoxoxo


    1. Ah Mel! Fruit tree guilds were quite a revelation to me. Pinterest has lots of good examples. I find them, like a lot of permaculture ideas, sensible, do-able things. Because they don’t require lots of fancy, expensive plants. I mean, apple trees for instance – alliums for pest control, comfrey for composting goodies. Good stuff.

      And what you say about the election – yes indeed. Going by his consistently outrageous behaviour, he will not “concede” graciously. It’s actually that that I’m concerned about. His inclination to incite.

      Domestickal potterings are just the thing, aren’t they? It’s my happy place, these days. Never happier than when I get to bumble about my home and garden, titivating and making and growing. Moste restorative. Good for you.
      Lots of love xx


  5. Can WE be a guild? Huh? Please? Huh? All of us? I gasped at your glorious garden too; oh my goodness. As I start to put ours to bed I’ll visualise the greeny, growy parts coming out on the other side at your place. X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stroke of genius, Jo! A woman-guild! Yes!

      I always enjoy, vicariously, whatever season the Other part of the world is in…even when I’m enjoying my own season. I’ve been lapping up the Autumnal cosiness from your part of the world, even though I’ve only just emerged from woollens and hot chocolate, and am not quite ready to back there. Just yet. Give me a few more weeks, and a day over 30 degrees C and I’ll be running back to Winter ; )


  6. the rose! and those before and rioting beauty after shots…gardening has to be one of the most satisfying things in the world when it goes right. i’ve done reading on permaculture and love the guild idea, and planting in kinships.

    i know what you mean about going all still and quiet when the world around gets more tumultuous. i do that, at parties especially.

    the election…after this last cup of tea, i’m off to vote. my daughter—the 19 year old who has been heckled and threatened on the road for her hillary bumper sticker—is working as a polls assistant. they were instructed to watch continually for suspicious activity and talked through an active shooter drill. please understand that we live in a fairly small rural-to-minor suburban community in the ass end of maryland. not an area typically known for violence, not known for anything much other than a naval air station and oysters and crabs, really. yet my daughter isn’t safe in her car or at a store, and had to be given duck-and-cover instructions to work the polls. in many areas, schools have been closed if they are near polling places due to fears for the safety of the children. um, america, if we have to protect our own children from ourselves on election day, DO YOU NOT SEE SOMETHING HAS GONE TERRIBLY WRONG?

    *shivers and sniffles*

    funny you should mention the tea and gin…because i actually put a bottle of champagne in the chiller, but i also pulled out a bottle of whisky. it’s going to be a long night…and to be honest, if people can’t find their fucking souls going forward, it’s going to be a long 4 years.

    i like jo’s idea of a guild for us. so, so much…

    love to you, to us all.


    1. I’m actually completely horrified by what you’ve said. Something has gone terribly wrong, indeed, if your girl isn’t safe. My mind is truly boggled by that. A nation that has so much – I believe some of the best things on the planet (ideas, people doing amazing things, creativity, resources, vision – truly the best of the best), can lose its way in this very fundamental of ways.

      My feeling is that the result will be champagne popping, rather than shots of whiskey solace. But in the mean time, I wish you and your lovely girl safe passage through this turbulence. Much love to you. And yes, all. xx


  7. Your gardens are beautiful. And seeing that this was written the night before the election… it just breaks my heart. I’m so shattered over this. Embarrassed to live in this country right now. And I have no idea who to trust any more. I don’t even have the words. But your gardens fill me with a bit of hope. (Even though we have not had rain here in months. We talk about rain like it’s as rare as snow.) Peace to you.


    1. Oh Nicole! I’m sorry for my late response – somehow I missed your comment. I hear you. I think so many of us are still picking up the pieces of our hearts. I’m aware of the drought in your part of the world, and wish for you rain and softness. Peace to you also, my friend. xx


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