It is almost impossible NOT to look back over the past year when December turns into January. Even if you don’t really want to it’s difficult not to think over decisions made, developing friendships, hardships, changes…all the things that made the year. I am even the proud owner of THREE New Years Resolutions. Not that I’m particularly able to keep just one, I thought I’d throw caution to the wind and set the bar high. February will be a disaster. However, of all that 2013 had to throw at me, I feel there’s one very important lesson I had to learn, and that was to live locally. (There were of course many lessons learned and relearned in 2013, but that list is too long).
I’ve always loved the thought of living locally; knowing the butcher by name, finding the best hedges for blackberry picking, cycling everywhere. And actually I am kind of OK at some of these things; we know our local grocers well, I’ve made Sloe gin three years running from the local hedgerows, and our favourite coffee shop is totally unique to Eastbourne. When it comes to my floristry business though, it seemed I thought I could side step the local events, businesses, and people, and head straight to Brighton and London. As it happens I’ve had a great time at several fairs in Brighton, Worthing and Old Spitalfield’s in London, I’ve also been able to create wedding flowers for lovely brides met at these events. And to top it off I was contacted by Vogue to appear in their mag.
By the end of the summer, and as I started to think about how I wanted to develop my business, I decided it was time to start to grow a cutting garden. A garden that would provide fresh flowers for my floristry, and flowers that are more unusual (and perhaps temperamental!) that the steroid-like blooms flown in from 1,000s of miles away. When I started hunting for land I asked anyone I could think of who might have land or know of someone else who has land. I looked as far as East Dean, Hailsham, Pevensey…and ended up back where I started. For those of you who receive my newsletter you’ll know the end of the story. I’ve been given a long border to cultivate within the garden of an old friend and employer. I have been gardening here for years and can walk to the land from our home. I am already familiar with the land and the landowners (the very dear Mr & Mrs Stevens) and I’ve been able to really transform ‘my’ part of the garden already. It is such a joy and a privilege. And it is just down the road. My own little Secret Garden, a garden within a garden, somewhere I can disappear for hours in a world of plants.
I’m just about getting to the stage of actually starting to plant seeds, now the greenhouse and shed are fully cleared out and clean and the border has been stripped back. This year will be all about annuals (with a few biannuals creeping in): Sweet Peas(naturally), Digtalis, Calendula, Nicotiana, Verbena, Achillea, Antirrhinum, Sunflowers… For the future, the list is endless! I love all things green – ferns, grasses, Huecheras etc – so they will need to be found some space, and to really be able to establish some slower growing perennials (how about this?) would also be great.
This new adventure has already bought me new friends keen to share their experience and knowledge. And surely it has to be an accepted fact that gardeners are some of the most generous people?
So here’s to many years of living locally. And a productive flower garden!
Anyone is welcome to visit my secret garden, though there won’t be a huge amount to see until late spring. Just call ahead (07708 687739) or send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy new year to you all!