A Fridge Magnet’s Wisdom & My Little Gardening Man

It felt positively spring-like on Wednesday. The sun shone all day! It’s all gone downhill since then.  Today, Friday, and its back to more rain in the air, although not quite so cold so things are looking up I suppose.

 “Perhaps we shall have another sunny day before spring vanishes before our very eyes,” she says sarcastically to self.

Rain or no rain, which of course we do need but it seems we have all or nothing these days, I do have some rather beautiful tete-a-tetes gracing my kitchen table, those delightful miniature daffodils, picked for me by my lovely mum from her garden and which never fail to bring cheer to my heart.

Tete-A-Tetes Picked From My Mum's Garden(c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

Tete-A-Tetes Picked From My Mum’s Garden
(c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

Now, since it was such a gorgeous day on Wednesday I shall tell you about it. Off I went for a lovely long walk around our park.   For the first time in an age I actually got too hot and had to remove my coat. Not only that, I was really daring and pulled the sleeves of my top up as high as my elbows – “Steady on,” I hear you say – so as to expose the bare flesh of my forearms to the sunlight.   I know, it’s shocking isn’t it?

As I walked on by it was lovely to notice yellow and purple crocuses popping up in the grass to the side of the path.   They weren’t there a few days ago and seem to have suddenly come up from nowhere.  Something about observing these gorgeous crocuses and the way they had just ‘popped up’ made me come over all philosophical.  Or perhaps it was the injection of Vitamin D imparted to me from all that lovely warm sunshine. Either way, this often happens when I go for walks, I can really get my life sorted out in just over an hour, it’s great.  Best therapy out there.

Thoughts of springtime in California filled my mind and my coming-up-fast trip and then I was suddenly reminded about a great pearl of wisdom that was given me when I lived there many years ago.  No, I’m not talking about a ‘Damascus’ moment, as in a booming voice from the sky or a blinding light or anything like that. This might disappoint you, but it was from a fridge magnet of all things (they do have their uses you know, not just for holding up stuff on the fridge).  So what are these wonderful words of  wisdom you might ask ? Simply this: “Bloom where you are planted”.

Bloom where you are planted. Hmmm.  Make the most of where you are, wherever that happens to be, put down roots and grow there.   Embrace all that it has to offer, here and now instead of looking at all the ‘what if’s’ and the ‘just maybe’s’ and the ‘if only’s’.

Everything we are looking for is  so often right in front of us, if only we take the time to open our eyes to see it and open our arms to reach for it.

I longed for my ‘English Country Garden’ when I lived in California but we moved so much and I never had the chance to live in one place long enough to reap the benefits of enjoying an established garden.

So, I planted lavender and roses in every garden wherever we lived.  I enjoyed them for a short time and when I had to move on and leave them behind I saw them as a present for the people who would move in after we were long gone.  At least, I like to think of it that way.

Roses thrive in California, loving the sun as they do. I didn’t have much idea how to grow them so I  took myself off to the library – pre-internet – to learn how to grow them from bare root. One of the gardens where we lived had a row of chilli peppers growing in it, which I promptly ripped out to make room for my roses.  Sure the kids, and probably others who were to live there would have prefered the chillies but I needed to grow my roses.

As much as I wanted my ‘English’ garden,  I also knew that I needed to embrace what California had to offer.  In my new home, in family life, in friendship and, of course,  in my garden, wherever that happened to be.

We did live in one place long enough to reap a small harvest. Gathering up various gardening tools, seed packets and welly boots for my then young children, we learnt together how to grow pumpkins as large as houses (that’s another story!),  zucchinis the size of marrows, plump, juicy tomatoes, towering sunflowers as well as California lilacs and poppies, rosemary, wisteria, grapevines and morning-glory. Two glorious harvest years! How I loved my Californian garden!

My lovely mum has had amazing English gardens wherever she has lived and knows the names of every plant on the planet (well, not quite, but you get the gist) but even she wasn’t too sure about certain aspects of what to grow in my Californian garden so when I needed help, I would pay a visit to my local garden centre to see my little ‘gardening man’.

Everyone local knew him as ‘Sal’.  Sal had a real twinkle in his eye. He knew his gardens and he knew what his ladies wanted  in their gardens.  Sal always had the right answer and oh how he could give out those great gardening tips, oh yes indeed.   I learnt an awful lot from Sal.  I miss Sal.

Bloom where you are planted.

So here I am now, in my English garden, five growing years unfolding before me.   Plants and veggies  which thrived in the hot Californian sun struggle here or don’t grow at all, but now I can grow my beloved hollyhocks, foxgloves, delphiniums and lupins (if the slugs don’t decimate them that is) and yes, I am still planting those roses and lavender but this time I get to enjoy watching them grow year after year.

Garden centres continue to be a wealth of knowledge, although of course I no longer have Sal to turn to.  At a recent visit to one I learnt that  growing lavender near roses keeps the aphids away.  Who knew?

I have a lifelong dream kept safe in my heart of  living in a cottage in the country oneday.  As well as a farmhouse kitchen with an Aga and a  huge pine table with room enough for all the family and friends, it will have roses growing up and over the front porch.

Bloom where you are planted. I can dream but I don’t want to waste time thinking of what might be in years to come and miss what I have now because of it.  There is nothing to say I can’t bring a tiny bit of my dream  to our little home right here in suburbia, right now.

I don’t have a farmhouse kitchen or an Aga but  we did plant a rambling rose.  Boy, did it ramble. I didn’t read the label properly at the time so didn’t pay heed to the fact that it could grow to up to 30 feet!  Still, I wanted a fast grower with lost of pretty rose buds and after a couple of years of growth, that’s what I got! I wanted it big, blooming and beautiful and right across the porch.

Summer Roses - Before The Storm(c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

Summer Roses – Before The Storm
(c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

It was all of those things until strong winds and a storm last summer blew it all down. The photo below shows what my  beloved rambling rose looked like one week after the photo above was taken.  I was so disappointed.

Summer Roses - After The Storm(c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

Summer Roses – After The Storm
(c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

As Autumn came to an end last year we cut the rose right back and hope that it will grow back stronger and more beautiful than ever.  Signs of new life abound and so I do, indeed, take hope. I will keep you posted!

Life, like gardens, can be full of surprises, disappointments and ‘cut-backs’.  But there is always hope.

Bloom where you are planted and may your hope ‘spring’ eternal. 


About Sherri Matthews

Sherri is a writer with work published in print magazines, anthologies and online. As a young British mum of three, she emigrated to California and stayed for twenty years. Today she lives in England's West Country, a full-time carer within her family. Her current WIP after completing her memoir is a psychological thriller.
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12 Responses to A Fridge Magnet’s Wisdom & My Little Gardening Man

  1. You have made it through so much, I’m certain you’ll get that country cottage one day!!


  2. mumblypeg says:

    There is another wise saying. “Enjoy the moment.” Get out of each day something lovely even if there are a lot of distractions to try and rob you of the simple things. May all your dreams come true xx


  3. sherrimatt says:

    Absolutely! Thank you xxx


  4. Genny says:

    Love this post! I remember your beautiful gardens in California and enjoy seeing you “bloom” in England too!


  5. That was a beautiful from beginning to end. I am not a gardener as you will soon see but I enjoyed reading every line!!! I dream of a log cabin with only Pine trees! : ) Yes we will dream!!! xxx


  6. jesspayne2 says:

    Bloom where you planted! Love it! Spring is here and gardens and flowers too! Love that spring brings with it hope. Your writing is beautiful, Sherri!


  7. risingwoman says:

    ‘Bloom where you are planted’. Such a gorgeous life philosophy….


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