Intersectional Peonies: A New Direction

Having teenaged daughters has helped me rediscover my feminism.  Writers like Caitlin Moran and Laura Bates have guided me.  A BBC documentary series called No More Boys and Girls was game-changing.  I realised all the myriad ways we hold boys and girls back and stop them reaching their own true potential.  We believe that girls…

Learning to play again

Can you remember when you were last really absorbed in a task? When you lost yourself in the pleasure of carrying out one step, and then another?  Worries floated away as you just focused on the job in hand. This is flow. Children generally achieve flow very easily. They will arrange buttons or stones just…

Contentment vs. happiness

My daughters are at an age when there are lots of comparisons.  Clothes, make-up, phones, grades, ‘likes’… Acquiring such things can bring happiness.  But does it bring contentment? Happiness is a short burst, and generally comes from something external.  Someone praises your work.  You get 300 followers on social media.  You click ‘buy’ on your…

Aging Beauties

I am infinitely more at ease with the way I look in my forties compared with my teens, twenties or thirties.  I have heard women complain that they feel invisible as they age, but maybe I felt too visible when I was younger.  Or visible for the wrong reasons.  I was judged on what I…

How does your garden grow? On optimism!

I have my mum and dad to thank for my optimism.  My mum always sees the best in people, and my dad always makes the best of a bad job.  There is always a bright side, even if you have to wait a while to see it. This bank holiday has been fairly wet, until…

Gardening is the best drug

Gardening, like love, is a drug. It’s a therapy, a remedy, a cure, a balm, a tingle, an itch that needs scratching, a rush, a thrill, a trip, a joy, an inspiration, a bolt of lightening, a jolt that starts the heart, a cornucopia of sensory delights, a phantasmagoria, a rainbow, a shimmering vision… Here’s…

My pledge not to buy new stuff

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet.  A plastic one. But it’s not just plastic.  It is all unnecessary consumerism-gone-mad purchases. I’m a bit alarmed by the Easter merchandise. You don’t need a purpose-made basket for collecting chocolate eggs. You certainly don’t need an Easter-themed hand-towel. Do you? So why are the shops and garden…

The gentle art of daydreaming

I have always been a dreamer.  Partly it is just noticing the little things, raindrops, shafts of sunlight, dust-motes, the fluttering of leaves, and partly it is being able to go on lovely little travels in my head when there is not much else going on.  I can fly; I can dive deep into the…

Cultivating a growth mind-set

There may be one too many puns in that title.  My apologies. I think I have already said that I tend to be an optimist.  I was blessed with optimistic parents.  I was brought up with a Northern “you’ll be right” sort of approach to minor disasters.  If you burn your hand on an electric hob ring, you…

Five inspirational garden writers for International Women’s Day

  I couldn’t let International Women’s Day pass without a shout-out for my favourite garden writers. So here are the five books written by women gardeners that have most influenced me. 1. Sarah Raven ‘The Bold and Brilliant Garden’ This was the first gardening book I bought, 8 years ago. I had no house or garden…

On harm, and vulnerability, and survival.

Someone I care deeply about has been harmed.  It has rocked my world, because the harm is deliberate.  The cover-up has been calculating.  There is no remorse. So I woke up this morning feeling battered and bruised.  I want to take away the pain, but I can’t.  I want to confront the people who should have…

The mother of invention

Today my mum turns 70.  But she won’t be treated to afternoon tea at Eastwell Manor, because she’s trekking in India.  Yes, trekking, with a backpack, and sleeping in a tent, and having bucket showers. That’s not to say she won’t get afternoon tea when she gets back, but she might have to squeeze it…