How to turn a shit day into a good one

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Job’s a good un!

I was in an OK mood when I got up this morning. The sun was shining and even though DiggerDog was being a bit of an idiot (puppy adolescence), we had a nice walk in the woods where all the bluebells are coming out.

Then I read an article about education which brought back a lot of BAD memories about school. I did not get on well at secondary school. The very short version is that I wasn’t able to work as hard as they wanted me to and after my GCSEs they *cough* suggested I continue my education elsewhere.

So I ended up in this maudlin mood wondering what would have happened if I’d known back then that I was autistic (I KNOW, I AM GETTING TO THE POTATO PART, JUST WAIT). I’d been told that I wouldn’t achieve much because of my bad attitude. I’ve had a string of jobs that I’ve either quit or been fired from after only a few weeks. 85% of autistic adults are not in full time employment, which is a bloody awful statistic but at least I feel less alone.

My shitty mood wasn’t going anywhere, so I grabbed my new sharp pointy patio de-weeding tool and got cracking getting rid of all the grass growing in my patio while I muttered about people that done me wrong 20 years ago.

And the next thing you know, my patio is looking pretty tidy. I did something!

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I didn’t do a ‘before’ photo because I don’t often take photos of my patio looking like shit.

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I’d forgotten where the edging was tbh.

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Much more betterer!

Then I started eyeing up the brick edging. It’s still not finished because I have to sort out the fruit cage so I can move all the strawberries, but I did a bit more and finished off the step up to the patio. Winning!

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It will look better with plants. Most things do.

There was still time left, so I took my second earlies up to the allotment and got them in. Now I’ve got two lots of potatoes and half of the new part of plot 12 is looking like it’s not abandoned. Go me!

I felt so much better after all that. I might not have achieved much in life in the way my school expected me to, but I can grow plants like a badass.

So, I can’t bury my past but I can bury potatoes.

What is achievement anyway?

A rainbow of flowers for Autistic Pride Day

Today is Autistic Pride Day! And I’d like to do a post about it, because this is my very first Autistic Pride Day knowing that I have Asperger’s. Don’t worry, I’ll write some shit about flowers too. But I’d also like to celebrate some strengths that are common amongst people with autism that you might not know about.

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Maltese Cross (Lychnis chalcedonica) doing well in a sunny spot in my garden. This is its third year and it’s bulking up gradually.

Loyalty: Be nice to your Aspie friend and they will always be there for you. We will always stand by the people we love because that’s what friends do.

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Calendula or pot marigold (Calendula officinalis). I think this is my favourite. It just keeps going, seeds itself if you let it, is generally pest-free, and brightens up every part of the garden. Plus it has many culinary and medicinal uses.

Memory: I can remember all kinds of stuff, some more useful than others. I can remember childhood holidays with great accuracy. I can recall the names of every F1 world champion. I can remember great lists of countries, monarchs, facts and figures. Which means I am bloody amazing at pub quizzes. I can also remember someone that pissed me off in 1989, so watch it.

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Yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris). OK, you’ll never be rid of it, but why would you want to be? I have never done a damn thing with this plant apart from dig up the spare and it always looks great.

Sense of justice: I can’t stand any kind of unfairness, racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, etc etc. Aspies will fight for justice and equality in whatever form, be it a worldwide issue or just making sure their children have the same amount of sweets.

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Oregano (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’). Proving that you don’t need showy flowers to make an impact. Also very tasty.

Intelligence: People with Asperger’s tend to have above average intelligence. Not saying I’m smarter than you, just putting it out there.

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Lithodora diffusa ‘Heavenly Blue’. Low-growing and traily, so great for spilling over the edge of walls or at the edge of beds. Amazing colour flowers, they almost glow.

Honesty: We are crap at lying, but that makes us very trustworthy. Just don’t ask if your bum looks big in this unless you REALLY want to know.

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Centaurea montana. There’s a white variety of this- chuff knows why. Look at it! Beautiful and very easy to grow.

Attention to detail: When we put our minds to something, we don’t do a half-arsed job. Every little detail has to be right and we can spot things that others might miss.

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Viola. One thing I love about these is that they set seed and you never know what colour they’ll be next year. This one is fab, another glowy flower. They are titchy so even the bright ones aren’t too brash.

Creativity: Many people associate Asperger’s with computer nerds, but creative talents are pretty common. Our sensitive ears make us great musicians, our attention to detail makes us great artists, our visual-thinking brains mean we can imagine and plan projects in a different way to neurotypical people.

 

If there’s anything you want to know about Asperger’s, please leave me a comment and I’ll try to answer your questions.
If you’ve got any questions about any of the plants in the photos then ask away because I can witter on about plants forever and I’m at my happiest when I’m getting muddy and growing things.

Happy Autistic Pride Day, everyone!

After the storm, a rainbow

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day. Warmest of the year so far and the perfect day to spend in the garden. But I was actually not meant to spend yesterday in the garden; I was meant to be visiting a friend with the little Diggers. Unfortunately, I have overdone it rather a lot this week and didn’t leave myself any downtime. This is so important for me because I have Asperger’s and if I don’t take a break often enough then my brain just does it automatically.

So yesterday morning when I should have been getting ready to go out, I had a pretty nasty meltdown. If you don’t know much about meltdowns, this description is pretty similar to what I went through. After a meltdown, I am pretty weak physically and I get really bad headaches and memory loss, so I wasn’t up to doing much apart from pottering. But I had to get out there, because being in the garden is really good for calming me down and resetting my brain.

I did a little tidying, and a lot of just looking and drinking tea. I love this time of year where everything suddenly springs into life. I felt a lot better after seeing all this:

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Marsh marigolds are go!

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Pulmonaria. Look at the leaves! Brilliant. Flowers still new so they will gradually change to blue.

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Beautiful proof that I missed a bit when I moved the grape hyacinths.

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Mutant alien cowslips flowering at the right time of year for a change.

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A bee fly enjoying the sun and a lesser celandine.

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Bergenia really going for it. I swear these will grow anywhere.

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My wild garlic! I thought the slugs killed it last year. I’m going to EAT IT.

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Strawberries have started flowering already.

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My astilbes are starting! Can’t wait to see how my shade garden looks this year.

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Cerinthe flower bud. The flowers aren’t big or showy, but the bees go crazy for them.

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World’s laziest cat. Great at cuddles, shit at catching mice. Also my lovage is growing scarily fast.

 

 

Hey, buddy

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Loving the colours in this little honeysuckle sprout.

I went outside today to cut some food for the stick insects (strawberry leaves, if you’re interested) and I noticed something when I was outside- I wasn’t uncomfortably cold. Even without a coat.

So, I called the girls to come outside and play and did some serious pottering. A little digging, a little tidying, a little ‘why did I put that there?’. I can already feel some of the tension melting away. And I took some photos of THINGS GROWING. Here they are:

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My blackcurrant is ready to go (making vodka this year).

 

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My hazel is ready to go. I’m hoping it starts to put a bit of height on now its roots are well established.

 

 

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My climbing hydrangea gets faster every year. Good thing I have a ladder and a husband with a head for heights.

 

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My little kiwi. I have high hopes for it this year.

Anyone else got a garden champing at the bit?

 

Plants I am definitely going to grow in 2015

It’s a brand new year! And I’m starting to plan. I’m always making lists of plants I like, both on Pinterest and in my garden notebook (yes, on real paper; old-school).

Having the allotment means that I have a bit more space in my back garden now, even after I replace all the lawn that I dug up to make space for all the veg. I do need to put it back because the trampoline and swing set don’t leave much space for actual walking. But anyway, I am going to extend my shade garden and do a new border from scratch- yay! I get excited about this but the truth is that once everything is in, I will change my mind and want to start a new border somewhere else.

I am trying to narrow it down a bit, partly because of costs and partly because having one of everything will look rubbish (garden design 101), so here is a short list of some of the things I’m going to grow in 2015 (how exciting is 2015? Hoverboards and flying DeLoreans at the ready):

alstroemeria-Maze

Image from alstroemeriaselect.co.uk

Alstroemeria: These were a favourite of my Grannie who passed away earlier this year. She always had a vase on the windowsill, and she loved gardening, so growing my own for cutting seems like a good way to remember her. I’ve just redecorated my living room in red and white so I’ll probably go for this pure white one. I can’t wait to have a vase of homegrown (well, allotment grown because Alstroemeria is poisonous) flowers and of course I’ll take some to my Granddad as well.

salvia

Image from crocus.co.uk

Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’: This will look perfect in my pale pink/deep purple/lime green border that is going where my courgettes were last year. It won’t be a massive space because my garden isn’t that big, but I’m hoping that it will work well with some Alchemillas dotted in between.

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Image from rhs.org.uk

Iris ‘Magic Bubbles’: I have been reliably informed by my children, who are both rubbish at keeping secrets, that they have ordered me one of these as a present. I’ve been trying to get hold of one for ages, so I’m really pleased that they found one. This will go on my cat’s grave, because his name was Bubbles. He wasn’t magic though. He was pretty dim actually, but very cute.

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Image from roses.co.uk

Roses: I think I might need more. In this post I bought 4 roses for my back garden, but I’m fairly sure I can squeeze a couple more into the front. I’ll probably take another trip to Harkness Roses and treat myself to a couple of these.

gaillardia

Image from rhs.org.uk

Gaillardia × grandiflora ‘Burgunder’: Gaillardia is another of my Grannie’s favourites, she had some lovely ones in her garden that she grew from seed. I’m planning to grow some of these lovely red ones for cutting.

lychnis

Image from puddleplants.co.uk

Lychnis flos-cuculi: Otherwise known as Ragged Robin, this pretty little native will slot in perfectly to my not-very-big bog garden. Bee friendly, yay!

2014 was a bit of a weird one. I lost my Grannie, who I was very close to, and my favourite cat. I had a lot of problems with my mental health. And then at the end of the year, I found someone who can help me. So I’m going into 2015 feeling a lot more positive even though I now know there aren’t going to be any easy solutions. I’m ready for the challenges! Except digging over the allotment, I’m not looking forward to that at all.

Retail therapy part 2

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A box of roses for Christmas.

Part one saw me impulse buy (under the evil influence of my mother and some large ‘SALE’ signs) some plants that I hadn’t really planned on getting. Shopping trip number two was more planned; I wanted some roses. I came into a little bit of inheritance after my beloved Grannie died in the Spring. She was a keen gardener and I thought what better way to remember her than to have a bit of a splurge. I had been looking online for  roses so I went to the Wyevale (are they taking over the world?) near my mum’s house that stocks Harkness roses. And they had a sale so I got some other stuff too. And my daughters wanted to choose a rose each. So the trolley was filled pretty fast and my money was well spent.

I’ve decided to redesign one of my borders that was full of veg this summer and is now empty. I’m going for a pale pink, dark purple, and lime green colour palette with roses as the headliner. So I chose these pale pink roses with a strong perfume, and the rest of the border will be stuff like Salvia, Aquilegias and Alchemilla mollis so quite cottagey and very pretty (I hope!).

The girls are being given their own little patch of garden next year and I have very bravely told them they can choose whatever they like. So they’ve started by choosing a rose each and I have to say, they have quite good taste. Digger Jr chose a lovely gold/apricot rose and Digger Jr Jr opted for this peach/apricot blend rose. I await the choosing of stripy petunias to complement their roses in the spring. I want to encourage a love of gardening, not just because I want them to stop moaning when I make them go to nurseries, but also because I think it’s a useful skill to have. But I do worry what exactly a 4 and 6 year old will choose to grow. More is more when you’re that age.

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The Ligularia doesn’t look like much at the moment, I guess that’s why it was only £2. It isn’t dead, honest.

Anyway, I also got the Echinops bannaticus Blue Globe to go in my blue/orange/yellow borders in the front garden, and the Ligularia will go in my new bog garden. So there is room for everything, especially now that I have the lottie and won’t have to cram my back garden full of veg.

Retail therapy part 1

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Self control? What’s that?

I’ve been getting better and better the last couple of weeks, so I decided it was time for a trip out to indulge in the time-honoured tradition of Buying Stuff I Don’t Need.

My local garden centre has recently changed hands and is now a Wyevale. Good garden centres can be hard to find- there are many near me that seem to sell nothing but plastic meerkats and pots (and what am I meant to put in them, hmmm?), but this garden centre has always had a good balance between plastic meerkats and plants that I actually want to buy.

Since all the Christmas stuff has been on display since the last day of the summer holidays (I shit you not), there has been a sale on ever since. Only now it’s bigger. But I wasn’t going to buy anything, oh no. I was going to plan and make a list and ERMAHGERD SALE.

I have legitimate reasons for each and every plant, I swear.

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Shortly after this I mowed down a little old lady because I couldn’t see where I was going.

The Ceonothus and Delosperma are going in my front garden. There’s a tricky area around a drain cover that I’ve been trying to figure out for a while. The drain cover sticks up so the soil is shallow because of concrete underneath, and it’s a south facing slope. It gets absolutely baked in the summer so I need something pretty tough there. I didn’t want one of those drain covering planters because to me they just scream ‘THERE’S A DRAIN UNDER HERE, LOOK!’, so I hope I can cover it with plants.

The Buddleia is to replace the white one in the back garden that is currently too big for the space its in. I’ve tried keeping it in check but it’s got so big now that it’s starting to become a funny shape. The Buddleia I’ve bought is a patio variety called Buzz, which is so dinky that you can even grow it in a pot if you want. I love having Buddleia in the garden but the space is small, so this one is perfect.

And I got this Persicaria for my new bog garden, that is currently my brussels sprout patch (are you keeping up?). I wasn’t going to get anything for the bog garden until I’d actually dug it, but this was on sale and my mum said (and I quote) ‘this would be really good for your bog garden’. So I would like the world to know that my mother is a BAD INFLUENCE.

More shopping in part two.