A garden day

Yesterday I had one of those days when I suddenly felt overwhelmed.  Inside and out, there was so much to do that it seemed it could never be accomplished and we would always live in dust weeds and chaos.  I went looking for Ian to have a consoling hug and was surprised to find myself teary.  I am so not a teary person.  I am a cheerful, easy going, competent person with a tendency to look on the bright side in a possibly irritating, Polyannaish manner.  But not yesterday.  I fought back with a chicken tagine, some homegrown raspberries and cream and half a bottle of a good red wine, eaten properly at the specially cleared table instead of on trays on our knees.

And this morning everything seemed manageable again.  I decided to have a day in the garden and started by taking my camera out to record the largest sunflower we have ever grown.

I am five foot four, so the sunflower is probably about eight foot high and such a perfect flower, a flower to make you smile.

Today we also let the chicks out for the first time. After weeks in the run the soil was bare, all grass long gone, and at the sight of the open door they inched out, aiming tentatively for the long grass growing only inches away from the run.  Soon all five of them were out, pecking at the grass and then slowly exploring further and further away from home.  All day they stuck to the corner of the kitchen garden where the hen runs are, hiding in the bottom of the yew hedge for a while.

That, I promise, is the tail end of a young cockerel scratching away busily under the hedge.  I don't anthromorphise (much) with any animals but I thought as I often do that hens are clearly capable of contentment, and so presumably of the reverse.  They clearly liked being out, having more room, scratching and nibbling, trying the taste of everything from the familiar grass to elder leaves and dandelions. 

I cleared out some of the pots where the nicotiana was looking thin and sad and planted them up with some very cheap but very beautiful deep red pelargoniums that were half price at the garden centre.  With luck they should flower until the first frosts.

Ian dug out barrowloads of compost for the empty raised beds and I sowed some more spinach and kale and a couple of rows of French beans in the bed vacated by onions.  I weeded the peas and beans bed.  I watched swallows swirling and chattering and swooping over the garden and in and out of the stone pigsty where they nest.  They will be gone soon.  When we went out to the garden centre there were lines of them on the wires by our neighbour's gate which is a sure sign that they are preparing to fly.  When we first came here I was surprised at how early in the year the swallows depart.  I had thought it would be September before they went, with the first hint of autumn in the air, but here it is always August, while I am still clinging on to summer.  It will only be a matter of a couple of days before they go now and the garden will feel empty and quiet for a while without them.

It was a good day.  Some parts of the garden emerged from some of the chaos of being left for so long for family and walking holidays.  The chicks went back to their house by themselves, just as the adult hens do, and were all lined up on the perch when we went to shut them in.  We shared the making of a courgette quiche and confirmed the dates of a visit to our lovely friends in Provence.

Back on a even keel again.


  1. Isn't it odd how those overwhelmed moments just appear from nowhere! Like the worries that arise in the small hours of the night. I slept so badly worrying about the 3 different things I had to do today, and then got up to do them, and more, very calmly and competently! But it would have been even better with a giant sunflower to stand under like some little garden fairy......

  2. We hit those moments when suddenly all the details of life overwhelm us and we don't seem capable of taking care of them all. I usually have a good cry when I get to that point. It relieves me a great deal and after a good night's sleep I am able to start afresh like you did and slowly tackle each job with the care it needs. Suddenly it doesn't all seem so huge anymore. We are just human after all and sometimes life seems filled with Herculean tasks.

  3. It's surprisingly sad to see the swallows leave. Here it's the cranes; they fly so high and call to us. But in spring it's just so wonderful to see them return; very emotional.

    I took in the spuds and onions yesterday, but oh the weeds. I'm going to spend the whole day at them.

  4. I know those moments too, and I generally deal with them much as you did - good food or a good clean-up, maybe a hard walk before or after.
    That sunflower would make me smile, too!

  5. It's usually gardening that gets me out of a dip like that - when I've achieved a bit of order things don't seem quite as unsurmountable.

    I wish I'd grown sunflowers this year - that one is wonderful!


  6. oh, the joy of a new day, when things never seem as bad! Love the sunflower and your sweet peas in the background are nice. Didn't get any planted this year, so I'v borrowed others to drink in that wonderful , lovely , smell. enjoy

  7. A bit of weeding makes all the difference doesn't it. I love the picture of the cockerel - too contented to pose properly - and the mammoth sunflower. I must measure ours, they're big this year too.

  8. Such a sweet photot of you and your sunflower.

    Maybe there's something in the air - I feel overwhelmed too!

    Hope you feel better soon.

  9. Tackling something head on, rather than thinking about the enormity helps when I feel overwhelmed. Nothing like a bit of 'doing'. It does help if one can actually see what has been achieved too.

    You'll get there!

  10. Well done for getting back on track again. I am the opposite of you, always blubbing! It is inspiring to hear of a different way of doing things and I have taken note that cheerfulness is the way forward :-)

  11. Oh I so know how you were feeling Elizabeth. I am no longer feeling overwhelmed by the chaos, more resigned to it! Glad you feel on the up x

  12. Sweet Birdy Love9 August 2010 at 12:37

    Oh Elizabeth what a wonderful Sunflower, it's a real rip snorter. I love growing Sunflowers, so bright and cheery and the 'girls' love the seeds.
    When I am feeling overwhelmed by everything, a few tears releases the pressure valve and prioritsing jobs in list form makes me feel that I have some control.
    Glad to hear you are back on track again.

  13. Do love that sunflower! A real homing beacon for any wandering chickens. Is it a special variety? For I've recently see a cluster of similar giants outside the village shop in Bonvilston. I wonder if they've been GM'ed. Hybridised with triffids perhaps. Yet they are wonderful and cheering

  14. I think we all have a day like that now and again - a day when every waking moment is very hard work and tears are never far away. Glad you have overcome yours and had a good day in the garden. That sunflower is fantastic. Keep smiling.

  15. Elizabeth - that's a lovely photo of you by your sunflower. Glad the down moment has evaporated - we all get them on times. Your garden is looking good. It is a bit sad when the swallows all line up to go but Autumn still has its own richness.

  16. Rachel - the giant sunflower is definitely something to make you smile!
    Nora - you are so right about sleep
    Cro - I love the idea of cranes as well as swallows. They are such elegant birds! There will be the excitement of the return in spring to look forward to.
    Pondside - good food or a good clean up! That is exactly it, or in my case, a good weed!
    Celia - yes, gardening works for me every time. There is something about being outside and working with my hands in the soil that centres me again. Mind you, mostly I am cheerful and I like gardening when I am cheerful too, maybe I just like it!

  17. Linda - I love sweetpeas. Every year I grow more and am coming to the conclusion that it is hard to have too many!
    Mags - must have been a good year for sunflowers. We have never had one so big! I love it. A single one is almost better than a row, towering above everything.
    Chris - thank you. Just a temporary blip. Normal service has been resumed. How is the house sale going?
    Mountainear - oh you are so right about doing! Mostly doing things is the answer. Every now and then, thinking and doing nothing is good too.
    Sue - I am too repressed for much blubbing I think! More likely to go and bash hell out of batch of bread dough!

  18. How those moments when we feel out of sorts with the world can creep up on us and take us by surprise. You definitely did the right thing though; food, wine, a good night's sleep and a day in the garden :)

  19. Striving for an idilic life takes a lot of hard work and can sometimes become overwhelming - but if it didn't you wouldn't be able to appreicate it so much.. Pollyanna had her bad days too xx

  20. I do sympathise with you on this - I often have those sort of days when everything seems impossible, but so glad to hear you turned it into a good day and are planning a trip.


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