Sustainable Change

For those of you who have been reading my blog regularly, you will know that I have a passion for roses.

English rose ‘Boscobel’

And hardy geraniums.

Gallica rose ‘Sissinghurst Castle’ with Geranium ‘Brookside’ behind.

And salvia.

Salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’

And quite a lot of other flowers besides.

Knautia macedonica

I love the colours,

English rose ‘Summer Song’ with peonies and hardy geraniums behind.

The textures,

Bourbon rose ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’ with Eryngium alpinum

The scents,

English rose ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’

The friendships,

Alcea rosea ‘Halo Cerise’ with English rose ‘Roald Dahl’

The whole lovely tangle, when they intermingle and entwine.

But I also love growing food.

Broad beans, freshly podded

I started a daily yoga practice just over a year ago, and since then there has been an upward spiral. Reducing my consumption of goods, becoming vegan, starting a daily meditation practice, tuning into what is really important to me, and my place on this planet.

We grew everything on this plate. This makes it extra delicious.

At the beginning of lockdown, in March, we dug up our lawn to make an extra vegetable bed.

Pumpkins, chard, artichokes, onions, potatoes and runner beans

I think it has made the garden more beautiful.

The new veg bed, with the bright border behind.

I have given over one of my three cutting patch beds to veg-growing, and am thinking the other two might have to be converted too.

Raised beds with dahlias. For now.

Maybe some more fruit trees? Or raspberry canes? Blackcurrant bushes?

Summer pudding with blackcurrants, raspberries and strawberries from the fruit cage

It’s not that I don’t think flowers are important. Far from it. They bring in bees and butterflies, which bring the birds. Diversity is everything.

Penstemon ‘Garnet’, Centaurea ‘Blewitt’, Salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’.

Food production has become more… relevant.

Salvia ‘Jezebel’ with pots of tomato plants behind.

We are being forced into transformations. We have ducked the issues for too long.

We need to look at our food production, our consumption, our waste, our inequalities.

Blue potatoes, with their slightly blue flowers. I am going to enjoy exploring unusual varieties like this.

The last few weeks I have written about racism. I have been really surprised by some of the responses. Some readers feel that talking about racism is ‘too political’.

English rose ‘Jubilee Celebration’. Not celebrating. Looking a little sad.

All human beings are equally important. To turn away from some human beings’ daily suffering is inhumane.

English rose ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ and Geranium ‘Orion’.

Writing about roses at the moment feels a bit self-indulgent. Black people are dying because of racial hatred, and it seems that some people don’t care that much. I am really struggling with this.

I believe in the inherent goodness of human beings, and I have to believe that we will work it out. I am going to continue to look for ways I can get involved in everyday activism and micro-reparations to transform our society.

I am going to grow flowers, and I am going to grow food.

For the first time ever, we have had a harvest of cherries from this tree. Tin foil bunting kept the birds away (they had plenty from our other two trees).

I am going to take a break from blogging, because I feel my energy is being drawn elsewhere right now. I will still be gardening, and you can find me on instagram as Ali, The Mindful Gardener.

I am truly grateful for your support and interest in this blog, and I hope that readers will be inspired to spend more time in nature, and maybe growing plants yourself.

I really hope that we will all work out how to make our lives more sustainable and less impactful on the planet. We are so powerful as consumers, and can make considered, ethical choices to promote change.

I hope we can learn to be more supportive of our fellow human beings. The rewards are worth it.

With love,


43 Comments Add yours

  1. Cathy Baker says:

    I love your blog. I m not usually a blog follower but find yours very calming. I too love colours ,gardens and yoga.
    You should also be free to write what you feel about racism….don’t let other people s discomfort about it put you off….facing these issues is all about an holistic way of being.

    1. Thank you Cathy, that means a lot to me. And thank you for your wisdom about discomfort. You are right that we are going to sit with discomfort, our own and that of others. It shouldn’t be avoided. Sending love to you.

  2. Kellie says:

    Oh sorry to hear you are taking a break but good luck and thanks for your posts, I have enjoyed them. I love this one talking about sustainability, I too hope we all take the good changes from COVID and stay with them 🍀

    1. Thank you so much Kellie. I am with you regarding this wake-up call. We are being offered an opportunity to make more informed and ultimately empowering choices.

  3. Lawson Macdonald says:

    Hurry back soon!

    1. Thank you Lawson, for your support and presence.

  4. Shirley Rydell says:

    Thank you for your Mindful blog. May you be filled with peace and love, and find time to blog again!

    1. Thank you so much Shirley. Thank you for sharing this space.

  5. Peg says:

    Your gardens (both flowers and veggies) are absolutely beautiful! I totally understand your need to take a break with all that going on. Good luck with your growing (both the planting and individual kind) and I look forward to seeing you back here in the not-too-distant future.

    1. Thank you Peg, for your generosity of spirit. And yes, again there is synchronicity in that I am exploring new growing patterns in the garden and personally. Sending love to you.

  6. Su Wesely says:

    Peg said it well. Take care, be well. You will be missed.

    1. Thank you so much Su. I intend to remain present in a different way. Thank you for also being present.

  7. crlnsi says:

    I just found your blog last year I think. I have been so grateful to you for keeping this up with all your other responsibilities through the pandemic and it has been a god send on Saturdays to sit and read it here on my little island in the Northwest (US). I too grow many David Austin roses and I too converted my cutting garden to veggies this spring! I agree with all you have put forth about our responsibility as white people to change and give back. Thank you for standing publicly for what many of us feel. True lovers of plants will always stand together for the health of the planet and all of mankind.

    1. This means so much. I too love a ritual blog1reading on a Saturday morning, and am honoured to have contributed. I love the thought that we are all doing the same things, answering the same callings. I will think on that as I tend my plot. We’re in this together. And yes, there is definitely a parallel between tending a garden and tending the whole population so that no one gets left out. Sending love to you.

  8. Gorgeous colours flowers
    And produce! You have been busy. Will find you on insta

    1. Thank you Dorris, I see you there!

  9. I shall miss your writing and your garden. I wish you well and hope for your return at some point. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much. Sending love to you.

  10. Jodi says:

    I have been away from blogging awhile but just jumped on and sooo very much love this post.

    1. Thanks Jodi! I feel like I have contact with you through Shelly’s site, which I love so much. I will see you over there!

  11. Eliza Waters says:

    Gorgeous gardens, Ali. Wishing you luck as you move forward.

    1. Thank you so much Eliza, for your constant wisdom. Xxx

  12. Ann Mackay says:

    I hope that both your flowers and your veggies grow very well. We’ve been growing a bit more veg this year – and a bit of fruit and even our small crops feel very satisfying. Next year there will be more edibles. Good luck and happy gardening! 🙂

    1. It does seem to be a ‘movement’ towards food production. I love this.

      1. Ann Mackay says:

        Me too. I think it brings us back to a closer relationship with nature.

  13. Maggie Frost says:

    Ali, I support you 100% in writing about Black Lives and the terrible things happening here in America. I am sad that anyone would try to deflect you away from speaking of it. I join you in your desire to be more outspoken, more mindful and to have your eyes open to the beauty and pain of the world. I have been rebuked by members of my own family, but I will not be silent. I will miss your blog posts but will follow you on Instagram. You gardens are beautiful, as is your spirit. 💙🖤💙

    1. Thank you so much, Maggie, I truly appreciate your words and wisdom. There is a tendency or assumption that mindfulness is only about seeing beauty, but as you say, it is also about seeing pain. It is then about what we do next, isn’t it? Standing together with you, speaking out, keeping on speaking out until it is fixed.

  14. Emma Cownie says:

    Dear Ali, everything is political. Saying you dont want to hear about BLM is political. I love your garden, its so rich in colours and textures. I am very happy to hear that you are vegan (I am only a veggie) and I am so impressed you can do the splits, although I know that’s not the point of yoga and meditation. See you on Instagram!

    1. You are completely right, Emma. I suppose we have to ask why someone is needing to close their eyes and ears, and draw attention to it. Bring it into the light. Going vegan is another ‘one if the best decisions I made’ thing. It is about so much more than food, (though I have never eaten so well) and it makes me so happy to discover others are veggie and vegan. I am surprised to find myself able to do the splits! It just shows that a little attention often enough leads to huge changes. I am not naturally flexible, but when I stopped pushing and allowed myself to tune into my body, I have gone into postures easily. And feel euphoric when I am exploring my way!

      1. Emma Cownie says:

        That’s interesting, Ali. I am working on rehab exercises to get my ankle/leg back to normal. I also do some yoga too. I was quite flexible before I broke my leg and it saddens me that I have lost so much flxibilty inmy ankle and I dont know if it will return. On the subject of opening your eyes – I think that if you reject society’s idea of normal (ie eating meat) that you start to question other things that are going on…it’s like pulling the thread of a jumper…it will unravel!

      2. That’s so true re: ‘normal’!

        Re: flexibility/exercises, a little bit every day is the way to go, I think. It doesn’t feel like you’re getting anywhere, but after a few months you realise you have made a huge difference.

      3. Emma Cownie says:

        Some day I dont feel like Iam making any progress at all which is why I keep a diary to look back over and see that I am making progress.

  15. Jo Shafer says:

    I shall miss you, Ali, and your mindful gardens, especially the roses. Yes, these are trying times, indeed, leading to more frustration and uncertainty. My gardens and our courtyard “summer house” where I do lots of praying and contemplation are the only things keeping me remotely sane these days. No more CNN hour after hour, I told Hubby, no more yackity-yack, just soothing quiet with books and music. Summer is the season for alfresco suppers on the courtyard, looking out over the herb and rose garden toward waving white fleece flowers beyond, and Charlie at our feet.

  16. Jo Shafer says:

    Note: Charlie is our American Cocker Spaniel, badly in need of professional grooming during the Pandemic. I do the best I can.

  17. Cathy says:

    I am sorry that we are losing you as a blogger, Ali, and thank you for your mindful posts in recent years and especially for passing on your knowledge of roses. I am full of admiration for everything you have said or done and especially for being so pro-active. You have already made a positive impact just by writing these posts

    1. Thank you so much, Cathy. I have learnt so much from you and admire your sustained dedication to your blog. Thank you also for your moral support, which makes a huge difference.

      1. Cathy says:

        You are very welcome, Ali, and I have of course learned from you too. This blogging community is very supportive, and we have all gained such a lot from it. With IAVOM in particular I know how much it means to a lot of people so it is important to me to facilitate it to the best of my ability

  18. Ali, I will miss your blog so much! But i understand why you are taking a break. I am so glad I still get to follow you on Instagram. I want to thank you personally for increasing my love of nature and beauty. Your blog and friendship has been a gift to me.

    1. And I hope you know that that is totally mutual, my fab friend.

  19. I will miss you on here Ali, though my own blog has been neglected in recent months since I moved over to Instagram so I can’t really complain!

    The racism thing: I was shocked at some of the comments you got and I share your own views. That said – I don’t believe that all humans are inherently good, or even a majority of them. I wish I did.

    1. I think they have the capacity to be good. Sometimes they are brutalised and lose touch with their innate kindness and humanity. I will see you over on insta!

  20. Dear Ali,
    Somehow I missed reading this post earlier in the summer, and i am so thankful to have read it just now! Your thoughts are very meaningful to me, and to many others, I’m sure. You’re right, we humans are finally being forced to look at the ways we live on the Earth, and are waking up to the realization that we must make some radical, much-needed changes. Transformations! I’ll look for you on Instagram, and wish you all the best on your journey in “Everyday Actiivism”. I’ll pass on your insta information to my daughter & granddaughter as well. Thank you for sharing your ideas, and for providing so much hope and inspiration:) Val.

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