Thursday, 14 July 2022

my little english summer garden

 hello lovely people. it feels strange and wonderful this little place on the internet, where a few quiet people read another person's thoughts and ideas, slipping their feet into my shoes for a brief moment, imagining a different life, or feeling as though their ways of being are validated. 

it really is both strange and wonderful. anyhow, thank you for sharing with me today, for joining in, for being part of the community and conversation in this big world. 

today is a simple blog post full of photos of my garden. and whilst probably only about 20 people will read this, i hope each and every one of you finish reading this and feel inspired to grow something more next season. because quite frankly, we are made to be nurturers of this earth, we are made to look after it, and if you don't believe that you were made for it, then even by happenstance of your existence, we ought to protect it for the sake of future generations, and if you don't believe that, then just simply believe that it does you immeasurable good to spend time in nature, shaping it and just being with it.

this year i've found my garden really humbling. lots has gone differently than i expect, a few failures, and lots of lessons. in previous years i've gone full pelt at the garden and really been 'in charge' and also put in lots of new plants, but this year i've taken a small step back, not added as many new things, and watched it at work.

i've found the garden to really look after itself in lots of ways this year, by there simply being more plants in the borders, with lots of variety of colour and shape and size, there's a home for almost every type of bug imaginable, and they really do keep themselves in order, the large eating the little, the circle of life. i haven't had too many problems with "pests", and i've found that a good spray with the hose on jet wash mode seems to work wonders in most cases, and a spray of soapy water to work on the rest. 

usually my roses are plagued with little green bugs and often the rosebuds get eaten before they can flower, but this year, they've not had any pests at all, so they've been spectacular and so easy. i've also been able to harvest some of them for culinary uses - i made a watermelon and rose petal jam, from the gorgeous Tessa Kiros cookbook Falling Cloudberries, one of my all time favourites. 

the greatest things i enjoy about the garden are the simplest - hanging my washing out to dry, watching the children play with the Aquaplay, seeing the lawn freshly mowed, and recently we played a game of Kubb there with my friends and neighbours which was the most fun i've had in a long time (and made me appreciate my lawn more than i usually do). we love to watch the squirrel that lives in our giant oak tree run up and down the fences and eat next door's birdfood upside down. there's so many things to love about the garden space besides the plants and flowers...

i've really worked on the little side borders at the front and edge of the house, and this year it's been looking quite different, with a variety of currants, marigolds, cosmos, hellebores and shrubs like this hydrangea - so lovely.

i've harvested lots more than normal, and am currently drying four different types of herbs and plants for teas for the winter in my spare room on trays. we've had several bowls full of mixed salad greens, lots of tayberries ready for making jam (finally after two years of tayberry confusion) and more strawberries than i can count. i love having all my own herbs at the ready whenever i need them, and fresh too - nothing beats the joy of harvesting your own fresh bay leaves (and i think it's one of the simplest things to grow for any beginner).

i must make sure next year to keep a more detailed garden journal so i can spot the progression of things and how it changes year on year, and i'd love to see how it works with the moon too and keep detail of that to see if it affects anything. 

my little containers haven't done so well this year, i think the dry spell in the spring put lots of things off growing quite as they ought, and then only now are a few things starting to wake with this hot spell. 

there are a few stars out there, and my wisteria this year that i thought for sure this year wasn't going to come back, is definitely looking as plump and leafy as ever! 

my pelargoniums have all skipped putting on leaf and growth and gone straight into abundant flowering - they're all about ready for a little trim so that they can keep flowering for the next few months - thankfully my littlest daughter deadheaded on of them for me already ;)

this autumn i am going to put on compost and manure and mulch like i've never done before, as the garden i think is lower in nutrients than it otherwise ought to be. i only use a seaweed fertiliser very occasionally, and then just cross my fingers that things will be happy, and this year i think they're a bit undernourished. hopefully the larger water butt i'm after will finally come back into stock and we can connect that all up too so i will have more of the good water and less of the dodgy chlorinated stuff. 

i am hoping i will get to doing a garden tour in the autumn this year, because i've never videoed it and it usually looks so beautiful in early september. but for now, i've got to try and keep things alive in this heat without overstepping my water bill budget. 

if you're interested in a little video tour, here's my latest on YT...

thank you all so much for reading. you are so special to me and i'm really grateful you're here x

Friday, 8 July 2022

my sustainable wardrobe, part 3 : the audit

 it's funny when you start down the path of a new way of thinking things, and it's funny to ever think you ever thought another way. i've been going through loads of mental shifts and discovering new pathways and ways of being, and my wardrobe is just one of them. 

and before we get going, i actually think that what we wear is important, i do. it reflects a care for yourself that other people "read" - and more importantly boosts your self-esteem and mental health. don't underestimate the power of clean, put together clothes, whatever your style. rock it. now onto the blog...

when i think about my history with my wardrobe, it seems like it's actually gone sort of full circle. when i started buying clothes, i saved for specific pieces, i didn't really go on crazy spending sprees, instead it was just one thing i thought was beautiful enough to save for and then i would add it into my wardrobe. as time went on, i purchased in larger 'hauls' from Zara and H&M, cheap places, where I could try lots of different styles and shapes and colours. 

then when i started to learn more about sustainability, i started thrifting, but the hauls were still as big, and the mindset hadn't changed yet. i felt like i was 'saving' the clothes from landfill, and somehow doing a good deed by buying even more...

BUT, i ended up in the same place as before, if not worse, getting rid of even more things to the charity shop again and again and again. i wanted this process to stop. it's time consuming, and mostly showed me that i wasn't buying in a very efficient way. i wanted pieces that would stay with me for a long time. 

so, i had to find my personal style, and the only way i did that was to go through my wardrobe each season and AUDIT it. i actually found i learnt most about what i was and wasn't wearing by thinking about WHY i was or wasn't wearing it. which colours did i gravitate towards and which fabrics? why? if i was going to donate an item, why? what was it about each piece that meant i didn't reach for it, or enjoy wearing it?

i ended up working out a sort of mental list of things i do love in clothes, which i mentioned in my last blog post, things have to be: SOFT, FEMININE, COMFORTABLE and TIMELESS for me to wear them. i found this out because all the harsh, shiny fabrics, all the boycuts and masculine shapes, all the constrictive clothing with too tight waistlines or too short a hem, and all the things i though were trendy and that i 'should' wear were in the donations pile. 

what would be on your list? 

i found this way of thinking about it so much easier than following only a colour scheme, or a 'style' name of dressing. i don't fit in one particular category, and it's tricky for other people to try to label my style. i think we are all unique and i love that what we wear can be a reflection of our overall personality, as well as our mood that day. it can communicate what we're doing that day as well as how we feel. ie. i'm feeling flirty, or i'm chilling at home doing the dishes. 

after my last audit i did another round of culling, a BIG one. somehow a simple AUDIT of all your things gives you the vision or ability to release more things that don't fit. for me, there was a lot of things i was holding on to that i still wasn't wearing, and having gone through SO MANY items i realised that i really could get rid of some of these things without being left with any holes in my wardrobe. i wasn't going to go short. i had enough. for sure!

so much of what i got rid of fell into two categories: sentimental attachments, and 'i thought it would be cool' (read: i wish i was Beth Jones but i'm not). i had bought things i thought were trendy that i'd seen in someone else's YouTube thrift haul and then tried them on and realised they didn't suit me - sometimes they fitted me, sometimes they looked ok, but there was always something a bit too 'try-hard' about them. 

the sentimental attachments are the worse, they are the hardest to get rid of for me. things i'd worn to events or on special occasions, where there's a lovely photo of me with family & friends in a particular item. it's like getting rid of the memories, and it's like letting go of an old version of yourself - often a younger, peppier one - and embracing the new. sentimental attachments to shopping experiences are a thing too - 'oh, my husband bought me that in Belgium, and the lady in the store was so complimentary', gosh, those are tricky to get rid of.

in my latest YouTube Summer Wardrobe Audit video, i gave each and everything a couple of labels: a brief description of what it was, whether it was old or new, and what sort of place it came from. i just felt like distinguishing the types of things and where i get my things could be really helpful, and it turned out to be a great exercise for me personally. i'd spotted that i was far less likely to throw something away that i'd thought about for a long time, spent a lot of money on, or tried on in the store before purchasing. generally things from eBay weren't things i kept for very long, because they usually didn't fit or the colour wasn't quite as pictured - unless it was an item i'd seen or tried on before, aka really specific.

but i mention these labels, because there was one label that i found really tricky to 'label' as such : so i called it 'sustainable brand'. BUT the whole idea of the phrasing is chosen because i hope people understand it's a brand that tries a little harder than the others to do better for the planet somewhere, and usually for me that means seeking smaller brands and better fabrics. 

so some of these brands include, Little Cotton Clothes, Kowtow, Toast (yes I do count them as sustainable because the products are made to last for a very long time), Naked Generation, to name a couple. i don't seek perfection with these brands, i just know that if i'm making a more mindful choice, and i intend to keep things for ages then it's already sustainable, because it doesn't feed into the crazy fast turnover of seasonal/fashionable dressing that keeps the fast fashion, cheap plastic fabric world alive. and by george it's almost impossible to source clothes that are truly locally made organic fabrics, naturally dyed, local seamstress who was fairly paid, shipped in an ethical way or offset, etc, do you see what i mean? that's why i always boil it down to, are you truly going to keep this item for 10 years? will it biodegrade after you use it? would you chose to mend it if it got broken? that's a really good starting place.

right, if you didn't see the last audit video, go and check it out, and if not, watch this one. i hope it encourages you to do a little audit yourself. and if so, please let me know how you got on! and see if the magical second pile appears a couple weeks after your first one...

and as a last note for this post, if you've made it this far, thank you. thank you very much for being here and for being such a special person. i'd really like to hear your thoughts on sustainability and clothing, i'd love to hear anything you've learnt, any ideas or perspectives that might help me move forwards in my journey, i'm all ears x