January 2022

I was sure that I had written a blog in 2021, but looking back it turns out I didn’t! It was a busy year, but not that busy. I have decided though, as a New Year’s resolution, that I will write something at the end of each month in 2022. And if I fail, I will give up! I want to document some of the highlights of each month. But first a quick recap of 2021.

2021 remained really tough for the hospice. I was without my volunteers for several months at the start of the year, but was grateful that I could still come in and work. Many staff were working from home. Visitors to patients were slowly allowed to return, but there are still some restrictions in place even now. Most of the fundraising events were cancelled, but the charity shops have re-opened. The gardens at the hospice have remained a constant, and are still looking beautiful. We were able to open for the National Garden Scheme in July and had a lovely day, with over 170 people visiting.

One of the big projects I undertook last year was to paint the “Chinese Bridge”, which had previously been brown and then grey. I decided to jump on the rainbow bandwagon and go for the multi-coloured look. I wanted to do it for three reasons – 1. To be a thankyou to all the staff, for their work in the pandemic 2. A reminder that the hospice is inclusive 3. And finally as a sign of hope for the future. It was a bigger job than I had imagined, but I’m delighted with the result.

People have really liked it, and during winter it has added colour when the days are a bit dark and dreary.

This was taken a couple of weeks ago, just as I was about to set off home at the end of the day. There was no wind, it was quite cold and mist was gathering. I feel so fortunate to work in such a beautiful place.

Back in November of last year, we had one of our other ponds renovated. It had sprung a leak and the water was filled with blanket weed. It was very unpleasant. But not any more…

The big silver ball water feature was no longer working, so was taken out. Rather than throw it away, I decided to “plant” it in the wildflower garden! It has split opinion, with some people not very keen. I like it though and think that in summer when the wildflowers are out it will reflect them beautifully.

For Christmas we had 60 Christmas trees sponsored in the gardens, for patients, families and staff to enjoy on the dark winter nights. This was up from 40 last year. It was a lot of work, but was made much easier with the help of some great volunteers. We might need even more in 2022.

I have had very mixed feelings about winter this year. I enjoy being able to get out and work, and I’m able to do lots of jobs that I don’t seem to have time to do the rest of the year. So this month I have jet washed some paths, I have tidied up one of the big ponds and have removed some bamboo that was encroaching into another flowerbed. And I am tackling a big patch of brambles that are getting out of control. Today I was picking up branches after the strong winds we’ve had this weekend. I love it that I am able to get on top of things and the gardens look really neat and tidy. I like neat and tidy, a result of my dad’s obsession with having a tidy garden. But this winter has been tough as well. I have felt quite tired and a bit achy at times. I hate the dark mornings and early nights, and find it hard to get motivated. My hayfever, which has developed these last few years, seems to have come even earlier than normal. I’m allergic to tree pollen, especially hazel, whose catkins were out even before the New Year. I’m grateful for anti-histamines!

The days seem to get longer very slowly during January, almost unnoticed. But there are signs in the garden that spring isn’t too far away (although still not close enough). Some flowers are beginning to appear – the first crocus, a few primroses here and there and the first daffodil has flowered this week.

Hopefully when I report back in a month’s time there will be a few more flowers in bloom. But who knows, it may be snowing by then. Until then, take care and happy gardening!