Updated: Jul 8
The Queen of flowers is here…
Photograph by Annie Spratt, Unsplash
“It was June and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.”
- Maud Hart Lovelace
The summer is here and with it comes many simple pleasures. I spend less time in my studio and more time outside in the garden. I’d rather be pottering in the garden, bare feet on the grass and hands in the soil. With each season comes new inspiration and at this time of the year everything in nature is flourishing, growing and thriving. The days are longer, the evenings are warmer and the nights don’t seem so dark. Summer makes me feel more energised, brighter and happier. It’s easier to get out of the bed in the morning, with the prospect of having my morning cup of tea outside or in the greenhouse. It’s easy to feel motivated and to find gratitude in all that surrounds me.
“Beauty surrounds us, but usually, we need to be walking in a garden to know it”
Thanks to the increase in daylight hours and sunshine I tend to wake up earlier and need less sleep than in the wintertime, giving me more hours to get things done, but also having the enthusiasm to get things done and with that comes a huge sense of achievement. The longest day of the year is almost upon us, summer solstice falls on the 21st June and according to English Heritage:
Summer solstice occurs on the longest day of the year, usually 21 June, although the sun’s position remains in pretty much the same place for a few days either side. For Neolithic people, sunlight would have been crucial - for warmth for them and their animals and for helping their crops to grow
During the summer solstice, the earth’s axis is tilted at its closest point from the sun. This means that in the northern hemisphere, the sun is at its highest point in the sky. It’s also the longest day of the year - and the shortest night.“
This time of the year in the garden is magnificent with the plants in my borders being mainly herbaceous and perennials, finally flourishing after the harsh temperatures of the winter. I started my garden nearly 4 years ago now. Having never really gardened seriously before, my husband and I didn’t know what we were doing. We knew roughly what we would like in our garden and how we wanted to use our garden, so I guess we sort of had a plan. I remember speaking with a neighbour and she said when planting anything you have two outcomes, it will live or it will die. We tried to not take it too seriously. We wanted to create a space where not only the plants would thrive but the wildlife and us too. With the help of a friend we gradually filled our borders with plants, many donated by friends, family and neighbours.
I grew up with the Beatrix Potter books. My mum used to buy me one or two copies every year. I would look forward to receiving a book on my birthday and at Easter. My favourite, of course, was The Tale of Peter Rabbit, but also The Tale of Mrs Tiggy Winkle. I found the stories absolutely magical and the artwork was beautiful. As an adult I loved all things Beatrix Potter and found her own life story inspirational. I have a book about her home and garden detailing the plants she grew, I knew that I wanted to try and incorporate as many of the plants and flowers into my garden. Beatrix Potter‘s garden was her inspiration for many of her stories and the characters within them.
The one thing I knew that I did want in my garden was a rose bed. A rectangular patch of earth dedicated to roses. I knew I wanted ‘smelly‘ roses and I knew I wanted creamy, yellow and apricot roses, so after reading the David Austin brochure from cover to cover I chose my favourites. Sadly, after nearly 4 years I can‘t remember all of their names. However, my favourite ones I do remember, which are Emily Brontë and Jude the Obscure. This year I was able to add 'Gentle Hermione' to the garden, the last rose on my list, thanks to a kind friend who gifted me a David Austin voucher for my birthday. The roses bring me so much pleasure, they are so stoic, coping in the blistering heat of summer, releasing their subtle aroma into the air. I find that dead-heading the roses have become a simple pleasure of gardening and even my husband has taken up the practice of taking some time out of his day to dead-head. It has become a form of meditation and even a stress buster for us both. This process is good for health and lowering blood pressure.
I saw a rose in the garden,
As I gazed, it’s meaning seemed to harden
It’s petals soft and with it my feelings could be pardoned
Though in essence this thing was innocent
I thought of its destruction with indifference
A poem from ‘Forgotten in the Garden‘
Pink rose, watercolour by Clare
Emily Brontë rose (David Austin)
So here are some rose facts:
1. The name ‘Rose’ came from the Greek Goddess, Aphrodite. She came out of the sea, the sea foam covering her body and from the sea foam a rose was born.
2. Roses were first cultivated in Persia. Roses also appear on wall paintings and personal items in the Egyptian tombs, dating back to the 5th century BC.
3. In the same century, the Chinese extracted oil from the roses in the Emperor’s garden. This oil was so valuable that only nobles could use it.
4. Roses have been the representation of romance and romantic feelings for millennia and it is said they appeared about 35 million years ago.
5. Roses were first introduced in England by the Romans. The first species being, “Rosa Alba.”
6. Cleopatra is said to have seduced Mark Anthony on a bed of roses.
7. Empress Josephine collected every known variety of rose at Malmaison, the chateau she shared with Napoleon Bonaparte.
8. Rosehip syrup was popular well into the 20th century due to its medicinal properties and children were paid to collect the hips during the Second World War.
It’s one of summer’s enjoyments to have an evening walk out in nature, it‘s a real treat to see the wild dog roses rambling through the hedgerows along the fields and in the woodlands. They are easily recognised by their pink and white petals, five in total. The rosehips have been used to treat scurvy, colds and flu, dysentery, gout and even vomiting due to their high vitamin C content. As a child I was aware that the seeds inside the rosehips could be used to make itching powder.
This summer I have taken to drinking rosehip and hibiscus tea by Hampstead Organic. It’s a lovely afternoon treat and as ever, I pop in some honey. This tea is said to be a good anti-inflammatory so comes in handy after a hard day in the garden. It is recommended to take it as an iced tea or a cocktail mixer.
Writing at my kitchen table
The month of June has been a busy one so far, but with the increased energy I have been able to take every opportunity that has come my way. I have started my own YouTube channel, where I have posted a few videos and aim to do some more. They are very amateur but authentic, as I don’t have any professional vlogging equipment, but having an iPhone, felt that I had all I needed to put out some simple and uplifting content. I hope you head over to the channel to see what I‘ve been up to. Please subscribe to the channel and remember to give me a ’like‘ and leave a comment. Your support is very much appreciated and makes all the difference. If you want a little bit of extra content head over to my substack page where I post most weeks.
In the week ahead I am putting some of my original artwork, cards and bookmarks into a local artisan shop called, The Gallery of Makers. I will leave the details below.
As time goes on I am becoming braver and more confident in my abilities. I have been creating art, writing and producing social media content from the heart, focusing on being as authentic as possible. Creating from the heart is what makes us human and I believe we are all capable of creating, whether it‘s painting, drawing, gardening, cooking or decorating, we can all do it given the time and some investment in ourselves. It’s important to share our stories, our loves and our inspirations, as you never know what others might be going through. I like to think that I might just touch someone’s heart and make their day just that little bit brighter. So, keep shining your special light, it helps to raise the collective frequency on our beautiful planet. Enjoy the summer solstice in your own special way. I‘ll be in the garden tending to my roses and celebrating nature, releasing my happy hormones.
“Gratitude is the wine for the soul. Go on. Get drunk.” - Rumi
Stay naturally curious…
love & light
The Nature Remedy by Faith Douglas
Dairy of a Modern Country Gardener by Tamsin Westthorpe
Kew Witches Garden, Plants in Folklore, Magic & Traditional Medicine by Sandra Lawrence
The Almanac, A Seasonal Guide to 2023 by Lia Leendertz
Forgotten in the Garden - Hawthorne
My Substack page -
My YouTube Channel