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.