February 2022 News
Oh joy! January is gone and the light slowly creeps back over the windowsill, as welcome as a naughty night-hunting cat come home to warm our backs as we work.
I’ve been enjoying what my friend Amanda Russell (best resource I know for fine, Constance Spry style pedestal vases,) has named a ‘slow January.’ There’s nothing like being given a bit of language to describe a thing to make it. And now ‘slow January’ is going to be a thoughtful, gentle to myself, way of treating the worst of the winter, for the rest of my life. It’s too dark for much exercise, it’s too early to sow seeds, the evenings are too long for the giving up entirely of the comforting warmth of a small glass of red. So from now on ‘slow January,’ it is.
Of course I haven’t entirely wasted my time. My colleague Nicola, whom many of you will know because she’s in charge of workshop communication (amongst other, extremely valuable things!) sat me down and explained that because we have a lovely big article coming out in the April issue of Country Living UK we needed to schedule workshops and demos, both at the farm and online until Christmas! And since I’m an obedient sort, I’ve done it. I have to say two days a year at the coal face of the year planner is time extremely well spent. And having done the first I am glowing a little I will admit. After all, a finely tuned year planner shows you the whole balance of your year, when you’re working too hard, or too little, when you’ve made time for family and friends, and when you’ll really need to take a holiday. I teach whole workshops based upon the Flower Farmer’s Year planner, should you like to join me, as well as workshops about how to make a lifestyle business work for you rather than you be crushed under the weight of it. Both these sessions demonstrate how year planning in this lay-it-out-in-front-of-you sort of way makes life much easier, and allows you to achieve more while running around in circles less.
Doyenne of small business support and encouragement Holly Tucker is also encouraging us all to do less (see her Instagram for more.) And I completely agree with her. We live in a world where we are admired and cheered for being BUSY. And small business owners are often busiest of all. But busy is as busy does if you’re not also being affective. So I say follow Holly’s advice: strategise more, and you’ll have much more time in which you can do less. Which means you’ll be less tired, more relaxed, your brain will have space to be munching over new possibilities without pressure to perform, you won’t have to get up so early or work so late… It’s a good idea!
And so while I’ve watched my flower farming colleagues revving up into full flower farmer mode through January, I’m glad I’ve taken the time to keep it slow. On 15th Feb we will sow a little flower seed to germinate in the greenhouse. But we won’t go mad. There is no rush. Plants grown from seed sown later will often catch up and outperform seed sown in the deep mid-winter. And yes, of course I have seed sowing and sweet pea sowing workshops coming up. And they will be at a perfect time for you to get going for your seed sowing and NOT BEFORE! For top tips on seeds to sow, see my piece in the March issue The English Garden with ten hardy annuals to sow for ten different reasons.
But it’s also a great time for putting the screens down and going for a stroll round the garden to look for new shoots of spring, to tread on the bouncy, warming earth, to see the birds working through the leaf litter you kindly left so that they could find nice little protein fixes. I just walked round the garden and saw a gang of sparrows shouting at each other in the high top of an ash tree, as noisy as the House of Commons during question time, several wrens bossing the undergrowth and indignant that I should be invading their space, the first snowdrops pinging up where I moved them to last year, and that lovely leaf mouldy smell of good earth filled with miccorhyza sending mycelium out in a great big, planet grabbing, hug. Yes, I am reading Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake and I highly recommend that even the most died in the wood arts grad types among you give it a go: it’s a mind-blowing read.