February 2022

Finally, the days are beginning to feel a bit longer and spring is in the air. It’s light when I wake up in the morning, and still light at 6pm. However, the weather in February hasn’t been brilliant. It’s been pretty wet and really windy, with three named storms. Somewhat surprisingly, we didn’t fare too badly in Wigan! At the hospice we had no trees down, two broken benches and millions of twigs for me to pick up.

Sam and I were actually away during Storm Eunice. We were on holiday in Suffolk, which didn’t fare so well. The Airbnb we were staying at had seven trees blown down, one of which took down the phone line. The weather didn’t spoil our holiday though, and we managed to see and do a lot. If you’ve never been to Suffolk, you should go because it is lovely!

But back to Wigan. The gardens are coming along nicely, with lots of colour from the spring bulbs. The bulbs were nearly all given to us by a local shop who were going to throw them away because it was too late for them to be planted. We took literally hundreds of packets of spring flowering bulbs and planted them in March! But nature is wonderful and they still flowered and this year are looking stunning.

The Amberswood wildflower garden is is slowly coming to life. There are a few crocusses which have appeared from somewhere.

And the primroses are growing very nicely. Hopefully by next month they will all be in flower.

The hellebores are in full flower now. A volunteer at the hospice gave us some last year and they are looking beautiful.

Occasionally I start a job that I almost instantly regret! This time it was tackling a bed that had three very large and unpleasant pampas grasses in.

I have disliked them for the whole six years that I’ve been working at the hospice. They are always looking unkempt, and add nothing to the gardens. They are definitely not the trendy variety. I hate cutting them back because my arms always seem to get cut. So I decided that it was the time to dig them out and create a new flower bed. It was relativey easy to get them out using a pick axe and brute force. But then the horrible part started – moving all the gravel, lifting the anti weed matting and then digging over the stony, clay soil whilst carefully removing the bamboo shoots/roots that were also growing there. I then had to add three tonnes of topsoil and compost before planting up. I’m very pleased with the results and glad I started the job (“…if you don’t start, you’ll never finish”).

There is a climbing rose, by the fence, that was donated by Hospice UK, as a thank you to all the hospices that opened their gardens as part of the National Garden Scheme. It is called “The Generous Gardener” and is sold by David Austen Roses in aid of the NGS. It has pale pink flowers and is highly fragranced. I can’t wait to see it in full flower.

I don’t really do poetry, but I read one recently by the theologian Frederick Buechner that really spoke to me. In it he talks about valuing everything in our lives, including the tough digging and the boring picking up of sticks, as well as the exciting stuff. I thought that I would finish with this poem.

Listen to your life.
See it for the fathomless mystery that it is.
In the boredom and pain of it
no less than in the excitement and gladness:
touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it
because in the last analysis all moments are key moments,
and life itself is grace.

Frederick Buechner