Tag Archives: gardening

24 May: Not just the eating.

Ready to sow carrot seeds

Eastertide and people are weeding and mowing, pruning and sowing. The journalist and chef had written about moving out of London and starting a vegetable garden. Well done to her! She clearly enjoyed getting her hands dirty and eating her first crops:

“The feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment was addictive. But it wasn’t just the eating: it was the fact that I had created my own food from a tiny seed.”

But no, no, no. You did not create your own food. Even if you are an atheist, you must recognise all the forces of nature that nourish the seed, once you’ve sown it and gone away, leaving it to grow, you hardly know how.

Have some humility; remember you are human, that is humus – earth – and to earth you will return. You can, perhaps, claim to create or design a garden. You can create a recipe for the produce of your garden but you cannot create a carrot. Rather you should watch over it, harvest it, admire it and enjoy eating it as fresh as possible, giving thanks to its creator.

Oh, I all but forgot. When you first open that packet of carrot seeds, have a good sniff, and you’ll pick up the scent of carrots before the seeds go into the ground and start their transformation. Happy Gardening and Happy Harvesting!


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Filed under Autumn, Daily Reflections, Spring

17 April: Paradise by George Herbert

I BLESS thee, Lord, because I G R O W
Among thy trees, which in a R O W
To thee both fruit and order O W.

What open force, or hidden C H A R M
Can blast my fruit, or bring me H A R M
While the inclosure is thine A R M?

Inclose me still for fear I S T A R T.
Be to me rather sharp and T A R T,
Than let me want thy hand and A R T.

When thou dost greater judgements S P A R E,
And with thy knife but prune and P A R E,
Ev’n fruitful trees more fruitful A R E.

Such sharpness shows the sweetest F R E N D:
Such cuttings rather heal than R E N D:
And such beginnings touch their E N D.

The trees in this orchard are in rows, which helps the farmers with their work, pruning and paring, hanging nets to inclose them from frost- and wind-blast. George Herbert enjoyed writing this poem!

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Filed under Autumn, Daily Reflections, Easter, PLaces, poetry

3 April: Gardening with Tennyson

Does Alfred Lord Tennyson look like a gardener in that velvet jacket and brilliantly laundered shirt? I did wonder. William Allingham went to visit him at his home on the Isle of Wight on this day in 1867 and committed these reflections to his diary.

Farringford. Tennyson and I busied ourselves in the shrubberies, transplanting primroses with spade, knife and wheelbarrow. After dinner T. concocts an experimental punch with whisky and claret — not successful. Talks of Publishers, anon of higher things. He said, ‘I feel myself to be a centre — can’t believe I shall die. Sometimes I have doubts, of a morning. Time and Space appear thus by reason of our boundedness.’

We spoke of Swedenborg, animals, etc., all with the friendliest sympathy and mutual understanding. T. is the most delightful man in the world to converse with, even when he disagrees.

To my inn, where I woke in the dark, bitten, and improvised two lines —

Who in a country inn lies ill at ease
On fozy feathers filled with furious fleas.  

On 1 February Allingham had noted:
To step outside the human limitations is not granted even to [a poet]. The secret is kept from one and all of us... A poet's doubts and anxieties are more comforting than a scientist's certainties and equanimities.

At the end of this week a certain garden will feature in our reflections. Let's see if we can't tidy our own patches between now and Easter, or buy in a few pots of bulbs, primroses or pansies to celebrate the new life promised through Easter.

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', PLaces, Spring

16 February: Winter into Spring

Allotments, Fordwich, Kent, January 2023.

This picture was not chosen for its top left-hand corner but it was good to see the hazel catkins shaking out their ‘lambs’ tails’, a sure sign that something is stirring, sap is rising, spring is coming. Below them, dark green behind the makeshift greenhouse is a bed of something in the cabbage family; the leaf broken over one plant’s head suggests a cauliflower. The pigeons are less likely to ravage the white curds if they do not see them from on high.

We liked the dancing scarecrow there at the back, and the green manure around the site. This is a fancy name for letting the ground green over in autumn, with the new plants being dug in to improve the soil when Spring arrives. But someone has moved on, there’s a bed dug and raked in the centre of the picture, possibly with onion or garlic sets coming through; there seems to be a hint of green at ground level.

The gardeners of Fordwich are co-operating with their creator, working with the seasons and the soil. next time we walk this way, who knows what we will see?

What will you be growing this year? A few pots of peas, or dwarf carrots, or runner beans or radishes, or cucumbers or even tomatoes will provide food and fun in a small space. And the seeds are in the shops now!

Let’s try to grow something beautiful and edible this year, maybe letting a supermarket pot of mint or basil get bigger on a window sill if you have no other space. When God saw the plants he had made, it was good. It would be good to join him in the story of creation this year.

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', PLaces, Spring, winter

3 April: Today Spring Arrived!


Sheila Billingsley has had her eyes open! On the edge of Saddleworth Moor, spring has arrived! She gives this poem the title ’14th March 2022′. We hope Spring is enchanting your eyes, ears and sense of smell. Those cherry trees . . .

14th March 2022.

Today Spring arrived! 
Slipped in!. . . Quietly! 
Bright blue sky, 
Pushing out thoughts of rain,
 . . .   until tomorrow! 

The cherry tree in the lane is in blossom. 
Delicate, tiny, hardly pink blossom. 
Not the blowsy in-your-face Japanese, 

Oh no! 

Today the gardener arrived too, 
To clear  the detritus of winter. 
Cheerful and happy within his whiskers. 

Did many thank you? 
Did many even notice? 
That your world was still struggling to obey you, 
Despite what we do?
At least your world obeys you, 
While we fight and kill and poison. 

Do they know that you exist ? 
And love,
And forgive. 

Do they know that you suffer? 

                     I just wanted to record that Spring arrived today.


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Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', Lent, Spring

27 March, Laetare Sunday: Make an Easter Garden.

Laetare Sunday is three weeks before Easter. ‘Laetare’ means ‘rejoice’, have a joyful Sunday! Perhaps this is a good time to think ahead to Easter, so here’s a project for you. Last year Vincent and Maurice made Easter Gardens for the locked-down L’Arche Kent houses, and the slide show tells how we did it.

You don’t need to use big pots like these, especially if yours will be displayed indoors. Ours were outside people’s houses or St Mildred’s church for a few weeks, so we used big pots to keep the plants alive.

We think the houses could make their own gardens this year, so here’s our helpful guide. You’ve got three weeks, so start off by collecting the pits and pieces. Don’t forget to share your photos by emailing maurice.billingsley1@btopenworld.com .

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Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Easter, L'Arche, Lent, PLaces, Spring

This morning


This morning there was mist and dew when I arrived at the Glebe garden, soon to be burned away as the Sun got to work. This morning, too, Agnellus posted our 3,000th reflection! Deo gratias!

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Filed under Laudato si', Lent, PLaces, Spring

24 February: Spring springing, noisily.

The motorbike was loud and persistent. 
So was the frog who heard it and replied. 
Frog had the last croak.

This little incident occurred a couple of years ago as our frogs were getting together to lay their eggs. It certainly raised a smile. Let us hope the frogs continue to increase and multiply in our garden pond where last year we saw an increase in numbers of froglets emerging from the tadpole stage. This may have been helped by bringing spawn indoors when frost threatened the eggs, and then by the spread of duckweed, making them invisible to the blackbird who previously took to fishing from an edging stone.

We are all duty bound to do what we can to preserve and promote God’s creation. Mrs Turnstone and I hope our pond helps in a small way; and she is always relieved when the frogs reappear at the end of winter.

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', Spring

Two winter moments

The other day when I walked into the greenhouse it was the first time this year that it felt appreciably warmer than outdoors. A spring moment even in February and worthy of a mention in the blog.

When I was looking for a picture to mark the moment I came across this snap from exactly a year before. The snow was such a blessing to all who like snowmen and sledges. There was not enough for cross country skiing, and the sledgers were spattered with as much mud as snow. But that was a moment of pure joy for many people who had been locked down by the corona virus. A heartfelt Deo Gratias!

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', PLaces, Spring, winter

19 February, Going Viral CIV: Back to the Roots in Peru

Young corn (or maize)

Corona virus, covid-19, has made itself felt all over the world, with stories we might not hear above the noise of the local news. Here is a story of new growth in Lima, occasioned by the pandemic, told by the Columban missionaries working there. The context is that Fr Tom was stuck in Peru when lockdown came, so he looked around and found something to do, with ‘great success’. Follow the link to read the whole story.

“Tom had gained a lot of
experience on the land back in Ireland,
so he suggested he would use his time
digging and planting part of our grounds.
Not only would it keep him occupied, but it
would also make us partially self-sufficient.
He sowed vegetables, corn, herbs and
some potatoes. The experiment was a
great success, they all grew like mad!

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Filed under corona virus, Daily Reflections, Mission, PLaces