Despite Everything Let’s Be Positive

P8270232In these challenging times getting out into the garden or even growing a few herbs on a windowsill can be very rewarding. The perfume from an old fashioned rose, buds forming on a bush you pruned for the first time and were terrified you might have killed, tomatoes grown from a packet of seeds, the birds singing, a frog croaking, the church bills telling us it is midday.P8270133

Right now everything is a mess, we are living in a very stressful world but every seed we sow and every plant we grow is a positive step.

P8270119I have a bit of a thing for my garden and being outside, but I’ve made a few discoveries since the lockdown began. Obviously life before was much easier. In April we would head to our local garden centre which would be overflowing with young vegetables plants and we’d buy. A tray of tomatoes, a dozen mixed lettuce, herbs, cucumbers, the list goes on. But this year, all that stopped. The plant shops closed. Just before lockdown I grabbed a few packets of seeds from our farm store, Millie, our daughter in the Channel Islands mailed me a few more. Our miniature greenhouse was assembled with a neighbour’s windows he had lying around. And then I started growing. And it’s given me an incredible feeling of satisfaction.P8270081

I have watched the tiny tomato seeds I placed on a tray high up in the kitchen for warmth sprout. They then hung on a rack Roddy made for me at the kitchen window. When the greenhouse came into being they were transferred out there. Then came the cucumber seeds, the parsley, aubergines, lettuce and courgettes.

Rather than buying compost, I’ve made up a huge barrel from a mixture of garden soil courtesy of our very active moles and leaf mould with the addition of plenty of old well rotted chicken poop!

Things have been repotted into pots I have saved every time I have bought a plant over the years. Others have been transplanted to the vegetable garden after a week of hardening off because it’s getting pretty crowded in here. Protection goes to the youngest, the bigger plants have had to toughen up and move outdoors! The shelves are sagging, but they were made from what we had available, and it’s all temporary. 


Once all of this is over, a greenhouse is at the very top of my wishlist. We will source some old glass panes secondhand, we’ll make a plan and Roddy says he’ll start building. Because I do know that growing from seed has now become something of a passion for me.

I cannot deny we are very lucky we have a large garden and plenty of green space and the weather has been fantastic. Mother Nature has certainly been helping us get through these times. I find it hard to be indoors when the outside is constantly beckoning me. Five minutes opening up the greenhouse and checking the temperature will lead to a wander down the terrace, then one distraction will lead to another, which in turn will lead to a much bigger job and before I know it the indoor work has been shelved once more.

Today it is raining, a good thing for I am forced to sit at the computer, maybe I’ll even tackle some housework and put away the laundry piles that make it upstairs but not quite as far as anyone’s closet! It’s crazy we have more time to spare and yet we are busier than ever. The ‘to do’ just keeps growing, things are constantly getting ticked off but then more are added and so it spreads to another page!

Despite the rain Roddy is outside, he’s dressed up in his fishing waders and pressure washing the terrace.

IMG_6409I’m warm and dry, so I’ll share with you a few corners of the garden, snapped yesterday when it was incredibly hot. I hope it will get your week off to a good start.

Our largest area of plain lawn has been turned into a makeshift grass tennis court, complete with a low slung barrier net to try and catch a few balls!


This year we have left several areas uncut. P8270115P8270117P8270090

We both feel a definite pull towards leaving things as natural as possible, even more so than usual. Subconsciously I am sure it has something to do with everything going on around us but I’d like to know if anyone else is feeling this way?P8270184P8270160


Every spring one by one our hens go broody and every year we select one girl to sit on a clutch of eggs. This year it’s Persephone’s turn, she was hatched here in this same ‘broody’ coop a couple of years ago, so she’s totally home-grown so to speak. They’re due to hatch at the end of this week.


The iris are amazing P8270118P8270182

and the pond life is thriving, forcing us to stop and stare, to linger just a few moments longer.P8270087P8270224

There are spaces which are calming, reminding us to slow down.


And then there’s the vegetable garden!P8270134P8270120


The melon bed tucked under the wall has finally been completed. We’ve moved over three tonne of stone. We’ve heaved and lifted, we’ve all got the scrapes and bruises and broken nails to show for it, but it’s been great fun. Then we barrowed forty or fifty loads of earth (soil which had been piled high when we dug the duck pond last year) and compost from the chicken garden. Yesterday we planted the melon seeds so let’s just hope they like it here!


Nearer to the house is the shade garden leading to the summer kitchen/potting shed where a climbing rose I planted last year has trebled in size.


Everywhere there are distractions; a geranium I planted when we first moved here in an old cast iron tub I found discarded in the barn.P8270112

The delicate pink petals of the horse chestnut look as if someone has showered the lawn with confetti.


And the Campanula which thrives growing out of nooks and crannies in the walls. They seem to have no soil nor water and yet they cling on, multiplying every year, flowering in abundance. Perhaps these alone are a sure sign of hope because I think despite of everything we still have a lot to celebrate.P8270241


40 thoughts on “Despite Everything Let’s Be Positive

  1. Thank you so much! Lovely pictures. Be sure to put pics of the baby chicks on! The iris makes me think of my Mom as she had planted some outside of our front yard fence at the farm. Have always loved them. Everything looks so green and pretty!!! Looking forward to seeing more of your gardens. Take care!!!

  2. Love seeing all your pictures. Your property is gorgeous. If we have to be shelter at home then a nice backyard helps. Happy Monday. Have a great week.

    1. Today’s post has brought comfort to me. You everywhere you look you see change from a normal.
      Oh, my friend Sheree Kelley from Nashville sent me pictures of her pots she brought from you. I’m hoping they can visit with you and your family.
      I love going to her house.
      Oh! I was one of her testers from her Cookbook, Breads & Spreads. Look at the back page at the end.
      I lived in Pulaski TN when she was growing up.

  3. Your garden is looking great and I’m sure you will have a good harvest. Here in Texas, they kept the garden stores open and they are really busy. Everyone’s yard will look great this year. It was also deemed essential to keep our liquor stores open, so all is well here. Drinks in the garden!

    1. Our garden stores are closed, but our farm store is open which does sell plants and also all the necessary important garden things without any frivolity. So my husband has made a couple of visits, besides we needed dog food and chicken food so it was a good excuse to buy a couple of plants at the same time!!

  4. Oh my, how beautiful! You really should be in magazines, Your photography and gardening is splendid and what a wonderful way with words you have.

  5. Thank you for sharing your garden of hope, beauty, joy and resilience. All these traits we can bring into our own lives. Truly enjoyed your post – thanks for always sharing as I love your blog.

  6. What a lovely and comforting post. Thank you so much. Living these days is terribly difficult. Our weather has been cold, rainy and dreary. Spring is very slow here this season. Our garden shops have also been shut down but there are rumors we may see some openings in the next couple weeks. Sadly, my raised beds have probably gone past their best use and i have no one to assist in rebuilding. I will do what I can but it is with great joy I see that many have managed to soldier on in these uncertain times all over the world. Thank you.

    1. Your garden is a beautiful place. Ours is coming along. We live in a more northerly climate and my tomatoes are very small as yet, and won’t go outdoors for another few weeks.

    2. If only you were closer when all this is over we would come by and rescue and restore all of your raised beds for you, that makes me so sad, I wish we could help. But please stay positive, stay safe and keep smiling xx

  7. Of course, I loved your post. I know times are terribly hard for you – both your businesses knocked out and still a family to feed and support. You inspire more than you know. I got very down about the fact that we won’t make it back to France this year. And then I thought of all my friends there. And you niggled away at me and we set to work. We have quadrupled the size of our potager and made more space in further bed. I have 7 varieties of tomatoes, 2 of aubergine, bell peppers, long peppers and 5 sorts of chilli, tomatillos, okra, peas, leeks, courgettes and squash, cauliflower, shallots and garlic, fingerling potatoes, celeriac, parsnips and carrots all being nurtured from seed. We may end up with a mighty glut of some things and I hope we do because I am then going to make up boxes for the food banks of Boston and the poorer reaches of the State and donate. If it’s a dismal failure I will have tried. And all this puts me in better stead for when we are eventually able to cut loose, retire and find that elusive forever home which will also house chickens and ducks, possibly geese and definitely a pig (two pigs – they need company 😉). Thank you Susan. Just thank you for being you. Xxx

    1. Your vegetables will be a rip roaring success I am absolutely sure. We have planted extra and are going to give some around the village when all this is over. Millie is doing the same in Alderney, she has discovered a love of growing vegetables which is fabulous and has kept her motivated and busy. xx

  8. Your garden is divine. We are lucky that garden centres have mostly remained open as an essential service. So that people can continue to grow plants during this time.

  9. Your garden is lovely and charming!! You and your family are an inspiration to all of us. Love the magic of your new “window greenhouse” and the beautiful plants you have created (with nature’s help). Thank you for sharing.
    Take care and be safe!

  10. As always a bright spot in the day walking around your beautiful garden. I’ve said it before it really does come alive and I feel I’m walking with you. Autumn here in Australia but there is still much to love in the garden in Autumn in Melbourne even in the time of isolation ❤️

  11. Oh Susan, reading this has made my day and given me that extra soupcon of balance also. Not that I am not in your garden every day breathless watching Gigi swinging her racquet with the force of a man twice her size ! But it has been lovely to see the rest of the peaceful green and all the work you have managed to do. Growing more from seeds . . . and perhaps keeping that going ‘after’ . . . there is a lot of talk here in Australia about the very many things we may keep on doing differently . . . Yes, you are lucky: you have the space and ability to hopefully keep away from all the death and destruction in France. We here were hit first and reacted strongly . . . when I look that for 26 million people we, at the moment, have 84 deaths in total. Our ‘larrikin’ population is becoming ‘antsy’ at Level 3 but when we look north at the US, UK and Continental Europe we still mind our p’s and q’s ! Our Government is actually co-operating in a partisan way, all the possible shortages are now taken care of and when the ‘young’ squirm about a boring life for the sake of the ‘old’ . . . hmmm, a $1K or $5K on the spot fine has had a few on the spot !!! Every state here has a different ruling . . . some now allow beaches to open for exercise, some let two people visit another’s home, some states will be trying kids back at school one, then two days a week . . . our biggest states have female premiers: well, Susan, ahem, perhaps the female of the species is a more natural ‘housekeeper’ . . ?!! 🙂 !

    1. Interesting about the female premiers and tend to agree! I too wonder will we keep all of these changes going forward or will we slowly slip back into old habits. A good question and an interesting debate for future posts I think. xx

  12. Susan, your blog posts are always so, so refreshing and uplifting….just what I need to get me through these trying times. You are able to make the very best use of your time and skills and you are an inspiration to all of us. Thank you so very much. I pray that each day will be easier for you and your family. Stay well and safe.
    Farm Gal in Virginia, USA

    1. Actually it’s not too bad! A good arm workout for sure, but I tried to banish all plastic years ago in the garden. The only things now are plant pots that we have from when we buy a plant. I store those and they have come in very useful. Better than filling up a landfill and great for my seedlings and mini greenhouse! xx

  13. Susan, I always look forward to your posts & feel very much at home when savoring them. Thank you for taking time to share such lovely moments in your day & stories about the pups & the “children.” We look forward to a time when we can again enjoy your lovely lanes. This week I posted this as my FB cover photo which is a small ornament in my garden —2 small cherubim holding a heart w/this inscription: “God has given us our memories so that we might have roses in December.” I wish you & your lovely family–a full harvest of beautiful memories as you cultivate not only vegetables & flowers but memories that enrich for not only a season, but a lifetime. I leave you w/a warm embrace!

  14. I’m so enjoying your posts. I’m from Texas in USA and loving hearing of your gardening, travels, children & home life. Your words of wisdom are comforting and love, love all things French and the flowers. Thanks for sharing it all. I’ll keep reading. Smiles, Paulette

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