That Peace of Garden (you don’t always find)

At the end of 2012, I was writing posts that were predicting the weather for 2013 but the one thing you cannot predict, is what happens in the garden and in life itself.

I can quite easily say that 2013 has been the most challenging year for me…. in both the garden and in life. This isn’t going to be a post looking for sympathy or for me the get those virtual violins out but how life’s challenge’s, affect you in the garden and vice versa. Many would say this is the case for any job…. I would beg to differ. The garden is a living breathing environment with a history and a lot of feeling to go with it. With all the these troubles of this year has had an effect on my health, having had more trips to the doctors than I have at any time in my life and recently being rushed to the hospital…. bit of bugger that was! Having been away from the garden for a while, I feel I have lost touch with it feel like it has become a bit of a stranger to me. That friend I always could confide in seems very distant. I know this is only temporary and soon I will be back and with a few changes in place, reacquaint myself with the garden.

I’m looking forward to going back to work seeing the people, the garden and being part of a team again. I have been back to say hello from time to time but it’s not the same as staying and mucking in even if it is with the admin or in the garden. Yes, sometimes us Head Gardeners do get our hands dirty and not just when we fall over. Patience is something the garden teaches us all but this is something I haven’t got much of at the moment. So as soon as I can get back in the garden again and lose myself within the surroundings, I will feel a lot happier but this cannot come soon enough.

Trinity College is a wonderful place to work and not because of its wealth and status, this doesn’t bother me, even though I often joke about it but for me it is it’s gardens. How many Head Gardeners can say, to walk from one end of their garden taking in all the courts and gardens that you have to cross: three public roads (four if you go to the sports field), cross the River Cam, walk down an avenue of Limes, walk through the famous ‘Backs’ of Cambridge, down a avenue of Plane trees and across a Brook. Bin Brook, that quiet little stream that causes me very few problems, well sometimes…….

Picture apr2011 1266

July 2012


Picture apr2011 2070

December 2012

With all these beautiful gardens and courts all steeped in history anything from: Sir Isaac Newton (Newton’s Apple) right through to the ‘Chariots of Fire’ race, there is one area of the college I often sit and be a peace with…….

It is away from the main part of the college I find the most peaceful, it is overgrown in places, natural, crawling with wildlife but completely relaxing. A place where all your worries and stresses are seen more clearly and after a few minutes there, the problems don’t seem so great and a lot more easier to deal with.

Picture apr2011 1963

February 2013

‘Happiness is not the absence of problems; it’s the ability to deal with them.’

Picture apr2011 1957

One of our log piles

To find peace in the garden for me it doesn’t always have to be in the main areas. That scruffy little area where the weeds can be weeds, the wildlife can happily scurry about without me getting a phone call, saying that we are under attack and there is no one about. Over the last few weeks I have missed being able to do that as well as all the gardening activities that you do.

There have been some good things in 2013: my son got into Essex University, we sorted out a work placement for a WRAGS student through the ‘Womens Farm and Garden Association’, I judged a flower show and they want me back next year and the cut flower patch has been a massive success. As they say… ‘Every dark cloud has a silver lining’


So will I be doing another one of those rubbishy blogs predicting next years weather…. oh yes! T’is all a bit of fun but you can never predict what life is going to hand you and you can only predict certain things in the garden. I do know one thing though, that come the 31st December I won’t just be sticking my fingers up at Jools Holland and calling him every name under the sun like I normally do but also too 2013 itself. From now on this year will always be known as ‘Two thousand and Fucking thirteen’!

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ontheedgegardening
    Nov 09, 2013 @ 15:14:24

    I am sorry you have had a bad year, what must have been worst for you is not to have been able to garden. I can understand what you mean about becoming disconnected, but I am sure you will meld again. We all know that gardens and gardening are healing places, the sooner you can get back in there the better. As Mr Wilde so eloquently said “We may be in the gutter but we are looking towards the stars” or something like that anyway. Keep your chin up and good luck.


  2. Judith Atkinson
    Nov 09, 2013 @ 16:52:49

    I had been wondering why your posts had stopped, so glad to hear that you are on the mend. I have very happy memories of being shown around the wonderful Gardens by a predecessor of yours in the ’80’s and do so enjoy your writing and lovely photos.


    • thetattooedgardener
      Nov 09, 2013 @ 17:05:37

      Thank you 🙂 There have been a few changes in the garden since the 1980’s, in some areas anyway but as you can imagine, being an old college…. certain areas never change.


      • Judith Atkinson
        Nov 09, 2013 @ 17:59:17

        I particularly remember a meadow dotted with scarlet tulips, quite extraordinary, I’ve never seen anything like it before or since.

      • thetattooedgardener
        Nov 09, 2013 @ 18:35:27

        The meadow is still there in the Fellows’ Garden, along with Wittgenstein’s paths meandering their way through it 🙂

      • Judith Atkinson
        Nov 09, 2013 @ 21:21:08

        He omitted to tell me about Wittgenstein’s paths, that adds more to my mental image,
        Thanks 🙂

  3. Shenandoah Kepler
    Nov 09, 2013 @ 21:31:11

    Glad you are making a nasty face to go with 2013 and a happy one for next year. It has got to be 2014 somewhere (a take on “it’s got to be 5 o’clock somewhere” so you can down a pint). Hoist one to yourself – as long as you aren’t in the obituaries, and even when you are, you can be pushing up daisies! Best to you!


  4. Sindr
    Nov 10, 2013 @ 09:32:32

    I’m sorry to hear it’s been a bit pants for you this year – I wondered if you had been eaten by a rampaging kudzu.

    As someone who has gone through some rather grim Life Changes over the past few years, nothing helped my healing more than my garden. I taught my ASD son many life-lessons by digging in the dirt; my garden is my haven, my sanctuary, my agony aunt and my place to convalesce, even when I’m fighting weeds or shovelling farm-poo (sometimes, especially when I do those things). There are days when I can’t move much and all I can do is look outside at my garden and when I can remind myself not to think of the thousand-and-one-jobs I need to do and can’t at the time, I drink in those few moments of beauty – I call it cultivating the Art of Doing Nothing. It’s a gift and a skill and it’s one we’ve forgotten.

    May you practice your Art of Doing Nothing without it rankling overmuch, and may 2013 be better than the last for you.


    • thetattooedgardener
      Nov 10, 2013 @ 10:23:07

      Nope, I hid when the rampaging Kudzu came by. I hope you have now overcome all of your life changes. As for the garden being a sanctuary I totally agree, not that my garden at home is much of a sanctuary….. but that will change 🙂


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