Into The Fray Of My English Garden

What does the word ‘fray’ mean to you?  This is the question we are asked by John for the Weekly Photo Challenge.

When I think of the word fray I tend to think of an actual fray, as in ‘going into the fray‘, described thus at dictionary.com:

‘A fight, battle, or skirmish. Synonyms: altercation, combat, war, clash, encounter, set-to.’

I also think of one of my favourite songs, ‘How To Save a Life‘ by the ‘The Fray’:

 

Then I discovered that ‘fraying‘ is what a male deer does when it rubs up against a bush or small tree with its head in order to remove the velvet from its newly formed antlers, or to mark territory during the rut.  I love it when I learn something new like that!

Apart from the most obvious meaning of ‘fray’ as in loose threads and the worn ends of a rope, on a metaphorical note, I’ve felt a little ‘frayed’ around the edges lately.

A bit like my poor garden thanks to an invasion of snails and slugs
this summer:

Poor Primrose - hopefully it shall return!

Poor Primrose – hopefully it shall return!

My hollyhocks didn’t escape either:

A disappointing year for my hollyhocks...

A disappointing year for my hollyhocks…talk about frayed!

With summer beginning to pull the covers over its head and autumn knocking on the door, the natural cycle of some of my roses and stocks
is coming to an end:

20140828_093837

Another bloom before summer leave maybe?

Another bloom before summer leaves maybe?

Yet even in the ‘fray’ beauty sparkles as sunlit-strewn raindrops scatter like diamonds across a simple spider’s web, shimmering with joyful abandon ignoring the inevitable decay:

20140828_093710 20140828_093733 20140828_093755As I walked through my garden this morning, a little battered after recent rainfall, I took heart in all that is good in the world.  The ‘fray’ is a tough place to enter but when we come out the other side, we are lit up once more, darkness descends and so we carry on.

And it is beautiful.

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
This entry was posted in Garden Snippets, Nature & Wildlife, Weekly Photo Challenge and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to Into The Fray Of My English Garden

  1. jennypellett says:

    When I hear the word “fray” my mind immediately goes back to age 12 and my needlework lessons. I had a dragon of an old teacher called Mrs Gorrell. We had to make our aprons for the domestic science lessons we also had to endure. They were to be made from gingham, and we had to tack the hem and roll the flaming seams to make sure the edges didn’t fray. Obviously mine did – and the punishment for this was to be rapped over the knuckles with a pair of pinking shears and told to do the wretched thing again. I can’t hear the word fray without flinching.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Jenny, that’s awful! Did you have the same needlework teacher as me? I can’t believe yet another coincidence! What a horrible thing and ouch, no wonder the word ‘fray’ makes you flinch! That’s just down right cruel if you ask me. Can you imagine her getting away with that these days? My teacher must have gone to the same dragon college as yours. I had to make some trousers and my mum helped me tack them together and sew them up. One look by my teacher the next day and she made me unpick every stitch, one a time all through my lunch break and then tack and sew them as she commanded. Obviously she didn’t like my mum’s help one bit. When I tried the finished item on they swamped me. I looked ridiculous in them and mum and I called them elephant trousers. Needless to say, I’ve never worn a pair of navy blue bell bottoms ever since 😉

      Like

      • jennypellett says:

        That teacher is probably the reason I hate anything to do with sewing. I even loathe sewing buttons back on. Our domestic science teacher wasn’t much better – I think she put me off cooking for life!

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        If only those kind of teachers knew the power they really had and the long-term consequences of their ‘methods’. But thank goodness for fantastic ones like you Jenny 🙂

        Like

      • Heyjude says:

        Needlework was the only subject where I came practically last in the class! Hated sewing, though I don’t recall any cruelty, I was just hopeless and always having to redo bits. I started a blouse in my first year (Peter Pan collar, cuffs, button holes – the works) and by the time I finished it at the end of year 2 I had developed boobs, so the wretched thing didn’t even fit me! I have disliked chintzy fabrics ever since! Though I was a whizz at making curtains and blinds once upon a time 😀

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        Haha – oh the joy of sewing eh? A shame your blouse wasn’t made in stretchy material Jude 😉 I’m surprised that I still like to sew, although haven’t done any for a while. I’ve made a few curtains in my time too but I hand it to you with making blinds – never done that, well done 🙂

        Like

    • Ah, the gingham apron – I remember that lesson!

      Like

  2. My first image in my mind when hearing “fray” is a loose thread being pulled from some clothing and fraying the edges. Your pics are great even though your plants are doing the best, Sherri. All the stuff I planted last year is pretty much dead now. We are just not watering much except the huge trees here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Yes, I was going to post a photo of my cat’s scratching post, lol! That is frayed big time! It is only because of the rain Patsy. We had a few weeks here where it was really hot and dry and I hated to have to use the hose with water being so darn expensive. I remember one house we lived in in CA that didn’t have sprinklers and the lawn died back every summer. Then, when the rain came it came back to life like magic. I really do hope you guys get lots of rain this winter, I know how badly you need it.

      Like

  3. Heyjude says:

    Your slugs and snails have been busy here this year too, my poor Hostas are looking extremely frayed! Love your phrase “With summer beginning to pull the covers over its head and autumn knocking on the door…” how apt!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      I blame it on the wet winter we had. They are so brazen that I see them even in the day time, slithering all over the place they are, darn things. I wonder more haven’t been eaten by the birds…but then I haven’t seen my robin for ages never mind any other birds. But then the cats have been in the garden a lot this summer…can’t win! Autumn is not far away…but let’s hope that September is a glorious one. Thanks Jude 🙂

      Like

      • Denise says:

        I was just about to say the same about hostas. In my neglected gardens, the slugs had a field day with our green hostas, although I have to say the variegated ones came out not as badly.

        For this time of year you have some lovely blooms going still, Sherri.

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        Yes, definitely not a good year for hostas either. Interesting though that your variegated ones did better. I wonder what it is about those that the slugs don’t like quite so much? I am forbidden by daughter (cheek!) to put slug killer down (although I heard they love beer so makes for a good trap in jars but not tried it!) because of the cats (she has a point) and because she says it’s cruel (she has recently acquired an African Land Snail as a pet…but let’s not go there… o_O ).

        Thanks Denise. Actually,my garden isn’t doing too badly considering. I’ll put up some more pics next week as it does look as if the iceburg rose is coming back into another full bloom and my geraniums are still going strong (guess the slugs don’t like those!) Summer isn’t finished quite yet… 😉

        Like

  4. I like the different ways you used ‘fray’ in this post. This blew me away, “Yet even in the ‘fray’ beauty sparkles as sunlit-strewn raindrops scatter like diamonds across a simple spider’s web, shimmering with joyful abandon ignoring the inevitable decay:” The picture here is everlasting. Makes me smile. What imagery! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh well, that is a huge compliment, thank you so much Tess! it’s what I felt when I peered down and admired the way the fresh raindrops looked so beautiful as they sparkled on the spider webs. Mind you, to take the photos I had to remove (carefully) a rather large garden spider who was very busy but most gracious in allowing me to photograph her pride and joy. She didn’t mind too much and was quite happy getting busy with another web…isn’t nature glorious? I’m so glad it made you smile…because you make me smile all the time 🙂 😀 ❤

      Like

  5. TanGental says:

    Hearing about the deer puts me in mind of my gran. She was always itching and scratching – probably had eczema or something I wasn’t told about – and had an ivory back scratcher. If however it wasn’t to hand she would rub up and down against the door jamb saying ‘God bless the Duke of Argyl’. She told me he put up posts to Mark the boundary of his property and the deer and cattle used them to rub against. Ever since if I scratch an irritating itch I say Gran’s little saying.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh what a glorious story Geoff, thank you for telling it in your unique, engaging style as always. I wonder if those ivory back scratchers were fashionable back then as my great-grandmother had one which my dear granny ended up with. I used to love playing with it as a child when I visited. What a wonderful image of your gran and now I have one of you too 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Steve Rebus says:

    Sherri, what a fantastic post for the weekly photo challenge! I love this post, the photos are amazing, and i like the few different meanings! 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thanks so much Steve, makes me smile from ear to ear knowing that you enjoyed it so much…and yes, who knew about the deer especially? I certainly didn’t! I just loved being able to say…. “Into the Fray!” LOL 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely Sherri, those spider web photos are gorgeous. I think everything looks a little frayed at this time of year – the natural worlds starts to look a little untidy now all that growth is fading away, but we’ll soon have the great autumn show to look forward to 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      I’m thrilled to know that you liked the spider web pics Andrea, thank you so much! Yes, I was a bit shocked at the state of my garden at the bottom (we have two levels due to the way the estate was built back in the 90’s) and I haven’t been down there much the last couple of weeks since the weather turned. It looks like an overgrown jungle in places of but there is still plenty of life and will post more pics next week. But as you say, we have autumn to look forward to, a season I adore as I know you do too 🙂

      Like

  8. Island Traveler says:

    So movingly true my friend. Yes, life will bring us so many fray moments. They may be hard. They may even break our hearts but at the end of each tunnel, we emerge victorious. Stronger, wiser, better than ever. With each heart break, a new light and joy fill our spirits. Yes, in so many ways, we share similar wavelengths my friend. Wavelengths that made me see that I am not alone in my struggles, battles and victories. God bless you and your family. As Summer ends, hope that the many fresh signs of Autumn blessings come your way.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      We are not alone my friend 🙂 We are all in this together and even when we have to gird ourselves to enter the ‘fray’, it is as we face it head on, fighting our way through and coming out the other end that the darkness is overcome by all that is light and good and true that we know we have surely conquered and become stronger, wiser, kinder and better people for it. The victory, then is ours 🙂 Autumn is on the way, a season of beautiful colours and cooler air, a glorious passage between summer and winter, a winding down and filled with many blessings. Thank you so much for your lovely message and God bless you and your family too, even more so as you seek your chosen path…

      Like

  9. Charli Mills says:

    Beautiful! You taught me a new meaning, too–I didn’t know about bucks fraying their velvet from antlers. Your words and photos meld like those diamond-drops upon cobwebs! Love this post!

    Like

  10. Luanne says:

    What a poetic meditation on a word with so many meanings. The photos made me consider looking more closely at blight, in some cases ;). As far as frayed around the edges. That is how I have been feeling. I can’t keep up with all the “stupid stuff” that keeps coming up and wonder at what point the pace of keeping up with all the phone calls and emails becomes more than I can handle.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      I love being able to dig around and get to the root of a word, especially a word like ‘fray’. I do like the look of ‘old’ for photographs, and noticing the way the raindrops sparkled against the cobwebs giving such life and light amongst all the decaying leaves transfixed me. Thanks Luanne, I’m so glad you enjoyed them and yes, sometimes looking closer at blight does indeed bring unexpected surprises 😉

      I really hope that you can leave the fray behind and take a breather and well deserved rest from it all…it is exhausting sometimes. I get overwhelmed to the point of paralysis and then I can’t do anything. Then I feel ever worse…a vicious circle for sure o_O

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I remember the first time I heard the term frayed was in junior high school. I took band, not Home Economics, so I wasn’t familiar with the term when I told this boy (who I had a crush on) that I liked his fleece vest and he told me it was frayed. I knew if my mother had seen it, she would have attacked it with a pair of scissors. 🙂
    Sorry about your plants…DFD has been battling the slugs this summer.
    Oh Sherri, I love that song too!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Haha…I love your story Jill, that’s so sweet and I can totally envision you saying that to your boy-crush 😉 My main thoughts of something being frayed when I took needlework at school was of my seams fraying where I hadn’t sewn them neatly enough, which was an absolute no-no!! I bet your friend was very proud of his frayed fleece vest and would have been horrified to have had your mother remove them 😉 I had a pair of denim jeans with frayed bell bottoms in the 70’s and loved them…

      Ahh…well, there is still life in the garden despite the slug invasion, I’ll post some more pics next week. Sorry DFD has had the same battles… still, we have the glorious fall to look forward to don’t we? 🙂

      Thanks Jill, glad you like the song too…it’s beautiful isn’t it? xo

      Like

      • I’m happy to hear there is still life in the garden, Sherri. I’ll look forward to more pictures. Oh yes, DFD tried everything in his battle against the slug. He lost a few Marigolds, but overall, his flower garden is beautiful. He is the gardener in this relationship…he loves his flowers and shrubs.
        Enjoy the weekend! xo

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        So glad to hear that for DFD (and you!) but I have heard that slugs particularly love Marigolds 😦
        Thanks Jill, a lovely weekend and hope you did too. Heading over to you now… 🙂 xo

        Like

  12. thirdhandart says:

    A very appropriate, yet very sad, entry into the Weekly Photo Challenge, Sherri. I’m so sorry that those darn snails and slugs declared war on your garden. It was so beautiful last spring!
    All summer, I’ve been trying to deter two very large dogs from digging in my garden. Unfortunately, I’ve failed more than a few times, and the dogs have dug up more than a few flowers. Oh well, there’s always hope that next year’s garden will fare better… right?

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…well, it was always going to be a bad year after all the rain we had during the winter months. They are so brazen this year that they are out at all times of the day and night, little blighters! Still, there is still some life left in the garden and I’ll post some more pics next week before Autumn is really upon us! The best month here is definitely June I think for blooms. Still, I do love the fall and can’t wait as I’m sure for you too 🙂 I know one thing though, hubby and I will be very busy clearing out the slug-bitten jungle very soon 😛
      Oh no, what a nuisance to say the least, I’m so sorry to hear this Theresa. Are they stray dogs? As you say, there is always next year…gardening is fun and games but we remain ever hopeful 🙂

      Like

  13. There is beauty to be found in the garden in every season, isn’t there? Love those water droplets sparkling like diamonds on the spider’s web, and your somewhat frayed stocks and roses still hold on to some their former glory for a while. I now have a lovely image in my head of the the young male deer with velvety antlers, getting ready to join in the fray of life. Another most enjoyable post, Sherri. Have a wonderful day. xx 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much Sylvia, I’m very happy to know you enjoyed this post so much. Yes, isn’t that a delightful thought about the young male deer? For him, the ‘fray’ of life is full of endless possibilities 😉 There is still some life in my garden, the iceburg rose is coming into bloom again (and a story to tell about it which I will next week!) and my geraniums are holding on well. So it’s not over yet but then Autumn is such a lovely time of year too. Meanwhile, have a lovely weekend…can’t be long now for your big more 🙂 xx

      Like

  14. mvschulze says:

    Your words, add a beautiful take to “frayed,” and nice pictures and acknowlegments of those “less thans” usually overlooked. M

    Like

  15. Amy says:

    Beautiful, beautiful way to express fray, Sherri! Love it.

    Like

  16. What a beautiful post, Sherri!

    I loved the photographs with the droplets on the web. My garden did not as well this year. I think our harsh winter and unusually cool summer confused my plants. Regardless, your last sentence says it all. We CAN carry on 🙂 Enjoy your weekend!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Well, coming from you that’s a huge compliment Lilka! You know how much I love your photographs from your garden 🙂 I caught sight of the raindrops as the sun came out while surveying the rather soggy mess of my garden and gave it a whirl as close ups hoping to capture the way they were caught in the spider webs. I’m sorry your garden suffered too from the inclimate weather we all seem to be experiencing. Let’s hope things settle down again and maybe we are in for a glorious autumn. Thank you my friend, and you have a great weekend too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. A great post which expressed both fray and how you are feeling so well. I loved the quote at the end and hope that you have come out the other side, are lit up and “it is beautiful once more.” It must be time for a walk my friend. ❤ 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…thank you Irene and I would say that you, my friend, have certainly helped me in the ‘fray’ so very much so that I am able to say that yes, things are lighter on the other side and it’s good to be able to write about such things. There’s nothing like the beauty of nature all around us to brighten any day is there? I think it definitely is time for a walk. I’ll be over to see what you are up to,whether or not I need my boots and then off we go… D ❤

      Like

  18. I love it that you see beauty even when nature plays bad jokes in our gardens. Your optimism is contagious and I love your blog for this infinite love you have for less than perfect things of life. Thank you, Sherri.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ha! Yes, a bad joke indeed! Gardens are beautiful but they do take a lot of hard work to achieve that beauty with so many harsh elements to battle against, and I include all those pesky slugs in that category 😉 Your beautiful words touch me deeply Eveylne, you’ve given me so many reasons to keep writing and blogging and smiling. More than you know. I thank you so much for that my friend, I really do…

      Like

  19. restlessjo says:

    I love that track, Sherri, and it’s one of those I’ll keep right on singing. 🙂 Love your whooshy raindrops too!
    Is it something peculiar to needlework teachers do you think? My school apron was woeful and she always practised her scathing wit on me. 😦
    Hope you have a much less frayed week ahead, and thanks for sharing the little gem about the deer. Hugs! 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      It’s great isn’t it? I think I’m trapped in the 70’s these days but then with songs like this I’m not surprised 😉 Glad you liked the raindrops too. It was so nice the way the sun cooperated and came out at just the right time, love it when that happens 🙂
      Yes, it does seem that they are cut from the same cloth…sorry, had to say it, groan, I know…! I don’t know what it is/was about them. I’m glad my mum taught me the ‘right’ way of doing things, even if my needlework teacher didn’t approve, otherwise I would have been put off for life.
      Thanks so much Jo, I appreciate that and yes I do too. Beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel… *she says optimistically* o_O Always love your hugs, makes my day…and hugs right back to you my friend. And now over to you… 😀

      Like

  20. Imelda says:

    Oh, naughty slugs! When there is a lot of rain, there also is a lot of slugs. It was that way with us last year. I am so sorry for your plants though. But let me just say, your roses are gorgeous! And I wish you a hollyhock filled garden next year. I think they are very pretty and nice to have in the garden. 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Yes, very naughty indeed! I keep forgetting about those egg shells…but the garden is so overgrown at the moment that I don’t think anything would work. It’s like a colony of slugs and snails right now. Thanks Imelda, and actually the garden isn’t too bad considering. I’ll post some more pics of the nicer parts this week, my iceburg rose has bloomed back nicely, I get a good 2 or 3 blooms out of it every year sometimes as late as October. Hollyhocks are lovely and I do too hope they return next year…ever optimistic 🙂

      Like

  21. I’m so sorry about your garden slug damage, Sherri, but I’m still smiling at your opening question.

    In grade school I took piano lessons immediately after a boy whose last name was Fray (and spelled that way). He hated playing the piano and did all kinds of things that drove the piano teacher to distraction, like burping at the end of a practice stanza, just under his breath, and then telling her he thought the motor on her freezer was about to explode. The rest of us waiting for our lessons had to sit quietly on straight-backed chairs as the “audience,” and we didn’t dare laugh.
    I remember she got a ruler and followed through on her threat to whack his hands if he didn’t play his scales correctly or if any more “freezer sounds” happened. He sneezed on the keyboard, and when she went to get a cloth to wipe it off, she returned to find the ruler had magically disappeared. So your question asking about “Fray” took me to a little bungalow where one 4th grade boy drove an experienced piano teacher to early retirement.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…thanks Maryin, but thankfully I did still have a lovely spring/summer garden for the most part. But it has been particularly bad this year for slugs…
      Now for the reason behind your smile…and what a fantastic story! That little 4th grader certainly lived up to his name didn’t he? Fray by name, Fray by nature 😉 You have set the perfect image in my mind of the entire scenario and now I can understand exactly why you smiled, somewhat wryly though I’m sure, when you read the opening line. I bet that piano teacher wondered for evermore where that ruler ended up. Thank you so much for sharing this with me, I love your stories Marylin, they are just wonderful and you’ve made my day 🙂

      Like

  22. Ste J says:

    I love the photos, Fray for me is an interesting word, fray seems like a bit of a hectic ruckus, I also think it gives character to things as well, mostly my jeans and my hair lol…I think it gives things something interesting to look at…perhaps that is me but I do love little quirks.

    Like

  23. mariekeates says:

    Frayed is how I’m feeling right now. With so much to do and so little time and life does seem a battle. I must be looking a little frayed too and my garden certainly is after suffering so much neglect. I’ve never really thought about the different meanings of the word but it seems most of them apply to me right now.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…so you know the feeling well, but sorry that you do 😦 Life is a battle and sometimes it seems that every day there is something to battle against. That steady drip drip drip that eats away at our time, resources and energy. Let’s hope that this week is a better one for us both. Can’t believe it’s September already though…and even more to do in the jungle, sorry, meant garden…

      Like

  24. “Fray” is one of those English words which sounds like its definition. Your slug eaten garden is a good reminder that there is beauty and strength in the midst of the daily battle to survive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      It does doesn’t it, I know just what you mean! Thank you very much BT for your lovely comment. It is good to come out the other end of the fray, that’s for sure but yes, there is also beauty to be found along the way 🙂

      Like

  25. Seyi sandra says:

    The word fray reminded me of this film by Liam Neeson, ‘The Grey,’ where at the last scene of the film, the poem ‘Into The Fray’ was read by Liam. Fantastic movie but apart from that, I’m so busy right now I’ve not blogged for over two weeks! The kids are back in school; I’ve missed so many deadlines at work… The List is endless. 😦 But like you wrote, ”the ‘fray’ is a tough place to enter but when we come out the other side, we are lit up once more, darkness descends and so we carry on.
    And it is beautiful.”
    Thanks for another wonderful post my friend!
    Much love, always! 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh yes, ‘Into the Fray’. I remember that beautiful poem, it is a great movie and that scene with Liam Neeson is very moving. I didn’t expect that ending…
      Ahh…I’m so sorry to hear that Seyi, I’m glad you are okay though, I have missed your posts…and I hope you do indeed come through the Fray and feel calm and peace once again my sweet friend. Hugs and much love to you for a better week ahead…and know you are not alone 🙂 ❤

      Like

  26. willowmarie says:

    The Fray and I are old friends – a lot of history, sometimes I think too much. Beautiful pics, you have an eye!

    Like

Lovely to chat...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s