Monday, 5 March 2012

On motherhood and gardening and botanical obsessions.

Meconopsis 'Lingholm' - Gardening Scotland 2001
So, we've lost Mr Flowers (again), this time he's wandered off to another continent without me, quite rude if you ask me. He's just called from Atlanta enroute to Panama City, he calls it work. I call it losing your direction, its hardly on the way to Kirkwall is it? Maybe he's off to see LinneW? Whilst he's AWOL, I've been indulging myself in a little plant photo action. I love plants, but we know that don't we. I think thats a Protea which I love as I think they look like sea anemones - but classic me, unlabelled photo - thats hardly handy is it?
Probably a protea.........Eden Project 2001
Anyway having a wee bit of time on my hands I've been racking through the old photos. Not in an album you understand - on my computer. So, dear hearts I've been drawdling doon memory lane, having a peek at various albums - what fun. Flowers I'm remeniscing about you understand, not people. From the days when I not only loved gardening and botany, but in times when the wind was not a fiend and allowed me to grow some rather fine ones.

Iris wilsonii - Fife open garden day 2004
Hymneocallis sp. Eden, 2001

From the Botanics in Edinburgh, to the Eden Project, Ireland to Belize, then up again to Shetland - I found a lot of photos of us gadding about having fun. I had to look hard for photos of children in these. I appear to have forgotten to take (m)any of the children or any other humans to be fair. And, I really looked hard. Maybe I didn't forget to take them, maybe someones stolen the photos of non-botanical items, like children.

Zantedeschia aethiopica - Eden Project 2001
And, what did I find???? Did I find a myriad of family history and lots of cute pictures of the no,........recycled pots and ideas for growing
Excellent recycing of tubs for propagating in Ardnacaraig, Galloway 2002
Nope, a few but not many - my camera works best with chloroplasted beasts it would appear!

 I found precisely tens of thousands of botanical photographs and gardens, with a few pictures of children in between these, being dragged from pillar to post from island to island and garden to garden. Looking at everything from recycled tubs to Aurucaria trunks with gay abandon! Bad mother!

Aurucaria trunk, in a 'monkey puzzle' plantation in JFK auboriteum, Ireland 2002

Mother of the year award, I think not. However, I do appear to have a cracking botanical library, so clearly that was worth their sacrifice wasn't it.

Helebores in Butterstream, 2005
OK, so we might have had a good few adventures a long the way. I can't really deny that. I reckon it was character building and they love the botanics in Edinburgh as much as I do, but probably for different reasons, they grew up there, whilst I was snapping away. And we did get to a few good locations on the way to the gardens.........even if some of us did look a bit fed up at our exhibit at Gardening Scotland...........(Silver Gilt we got too.......)
Gardening Scotland, 2001 - the textural garden, the cellist to be, doesn't look impressed does she?
However, they've survived all those, lets pop to this garden and have a look at whats flowering today. It helped to hone my photography skills, whilst identifying the plants they REALLY shouldn't eat.......and why fungi really aren't plants, but we pretend that they are even though they're closer related to animals than plants (do you think vegetarians mind than mushrooms aren't plants OR animals?). The kids know there are five kingdoms......thats all I care about! And what are they again children.........Protista (the single-celled eukaryotes); Plantae (the plants); Fungi (fungus and related organisms); Animalia (the animals); Monera (the prokaryotes). Clever children to remember that!
Cellist to be happy to be done with a garden visit for the day!
Gamer celebrating the fact that fungi are not plants!

My nearest and dearest Aunty Claire often bemuses me of tales of her dear mother Grannie Annie, making dinner in the garden every day on the barbeque - so's to reduce the requirement for household chores and washing up and lengthen her time spent on more meaningful tasks in the garden. I hear that the phrase, its a BBQ for tea (again) lead said Aunty Claire to study catering and become a rather fine chef. Character building indeed and she's a darn fine cook!  Now, if her mother hadn't taken the time to garden and cook the family's tea on a BBQ, Aunty C would probably never have been a chef. So that's clearly one vote for motherhood and gardening working in harmony isnt it?

Anyway to prove we didn't just deprive the children by making them learn about plants, I did find a few stragglers of pictures of us going on 'non-gardening/botany' types of adventures.........we walked out to the old man of Hoy once........not a garden plant in sight........but plenty maritime plants to oggle at.
Old man of Hoy, Orkney 2003

And, the odd plod along the beach with the dogs - in our wellies of course
As to my two fair charges, how much has my gardening and botanical obsession changed them? Both have denounced gardening (far too hard work), although both enjoy a good adventure to a new place.  Well, we'll see. One's off to university soon to do a course not disimilar to my own - and might end up like me off adverturing, um I mean working, on tiny islands like Shetland, looking for Edumnstons chickweed, in serpentine moonscapes...... and to be fair none of us would have gone to Unst in Shetland, unless on a plant collecting trip!
Cerastium nigrescens - a beautiful rare little chickweed in Shetland. Plant collecting trip 2003

We do all still walk and enjoy a natter. OK the walks are now largely 'non-negotionable' for them - no walking=no electricity at home if they don't comply. Its a harsh but simple approach to parenting, which I find works for me best. They largely sing loudly now, when I try and point out a plant, but I guess that's to be expected. They know how many photos I have of plants rather than them. And how many plant collecting/botanising/garden spying trips I've done with and without them.........Its always fun and never hard work.......honest.

Plant collecting in Unst, 2004 - its work, honest, work I tell you!

But, each to their own eh?

Therefore on mothering and gardening I reckon what doesn't kill them of boredom or physical hard labour, or botanical boring to death, or neglect or improvised BBQ teas, makes them stronger. Don't you.

Well everyone's still here, healthy and happy - both kids appear to consider 'doing what you love' to be a top priority in life. So, I guess thats a lesson I can say I passed on. OK, they might hate flowers now, but hey ho - they've found something THEY are passionate about (geography for one, music for the other). And, they know to take the time to appreicate the details in life, even if they are thorny. And note the name of the plant as you take the photo, or a legible picture of a label, as you'll never remember it!

Anyhow - I've backed up the botanical pics of old, just in case they realise they're only in the libraries on a 1:1000 ratio and take it out on the flowers. Flowers are much easier to take photos of than children. They don't move as much........that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.


  1. We visited a proteus nursery in New Zealand. What extraordinary plants. I think your bairns look adorable or is that a front?
    As to Shetland...what's wrong with Unst? Only last week A friend of mine turned down the opportunity to spend a few days there! Big mistake, I told her, you don't know what you're missing..

    1. Oh Janet - I love Shetland - my point was that we were so lucky to go there not once but at least half a dozen times for work. I'd never imagined I could have ever have got there (you don't just walk passed it, as you know). Looking and collecting plants in the far reaches of the UK is very humbling. And, so beautiful you're right - I'd bite someones arm off for a trip to Shetland........I keep telling Mr F we need to go - I took the kids plant collecting on one trip, not him!

      Protea nursery in New Zealand - how gorgeous - they're South African aren't they (the Protea's not the New Zealanders....).

      Unst is a very special place, Keen of Hammar, the serpentine, the most remote woodland in the UK and of course Sonny Priest and his micro brewery does a fine bottle of Bere Beer too!

      The bairns, well looks can be deceiving - they 'did' look adorable - now they're all gangly, teenagerish and tall. Bonnie still, but I'd not trust them together - they'd plot some kind of mischeif.

    2. South African yes. Yours is a king protea, looking a little frayed at the edges. And surrounded by assorted fynbos relatives.

  2. Grannies Annie sound like my sort of girl! People take far too many pictures of their children, it only panders to their kids vanity!!!!!! Sounds like you have done a pretty good job with yours x

    1. Grannie Annie was one of the most fantastic folk I've ever had the fortune to be in the company of. The making the tea on the BBQ to save time and washing up is a stroke of genius. And, to subtly engineer her daughter as a chef - well that's what you call very pro-active parenting!

      Mines have reached 15 and 17 - which is a miracle but we're all very happy to know each other! They do however roll their eyes now at the mere mention of a latin name.........

  3. You might like this poem about mothers

    1. Thank you Carole! I'm off to have a peek now - how kind you are!

  4. You do a marvellous job of both gardening AND motherhood - love that picture of your cellist in a grump :) xx

    1. I think I might have done them a misservice Jenni - I mean thousands and thousands of photos of flowers and a handful of them. Maybe I can send out an appeal to my chums - surely some of them thought the children cute enough to take a photo of? Mabye?

      The 'soon to be cellist' was 3 in the photo - adorable - she'd just started nursery in Edinburgh at Stockbridge and had been at the Ingliston exhibition (the site in the picture) all day without a peep - she's a star. I showed her he picture and she said .......

      'Oh that's your wierd tin garden with all those funny crinkly plants'

      At least she remembered it.

  5. Lovely pictures, both flowers and kidlets :)

    1. Thank you my dear. Both are rather splendid

  6. When the bairn making genetic bean bag gets shaken chances are that the offspring might look like you but they'll all have the mutation that means they'll probably hate what you love doing best. Sounds like you're doing a pretty good job so why worry.

    1. Hi there - lovely to see you! I love the genetic bean bag thing! They are indeed mutants but quite pleasant never the less. I'm no so much worried - I just would have liked to have taken more pictures of them to blackmail them when they begin to bring dates home. :)

      Or something like that! Cheers for the comment!

  7. Ahhh...a lovely post! I love your Helebore picture in particular - gorgeous flowers aren't they! I'll have to blog some more of the Eden project ones from our visits, just for you!

    R xx

    1. Oh looking over to your patch and having a peek in a bit.

      Helebores I love them - the only way I've ever seen them displayed properly is in a bowl of water as floating flowers. Their complexity is awesome - but they so totally suck at showing it. Who wants to have to cut them - or lie down on the ground gazing upwards just to appreciate them?


  8. Hiya Fay,
    I have a clear memory of Unst. The guest house lady sent me out to look for some rare saxifrage, because tea wasn't ready. It was about minus 3 plus wind chill, and my eyes watered so hard I never found the saxifrage...
    Neither of my two have ever wanted to do gardening or botany - but that's just life for you. Still, they complain less when they are dragged around a garden these days than they used to.

    1. Oh dear, poor Unst - its clearly smarted you. Minus three plus wind chill sounds about right!

      Saxifrages are cunning beasts it was probably hiding from you.

      My two are thinking of renewables or music or medicine. Not flowers.

      I can still drag them to the gardens too - glad to know the bleating and moaning will lessen with age!

      I think Scotland could be put under a biodome - better weather - nae wind, nae midges - who's with me? Perhaps we'll get lottery funding!??

  9. Poor hard done by kids, (not!) Thoroughly enjoyed your stroll through the years and great pictures, beautiful Hellebore.

    1. Aye Loon - pare (?) wee bairns. (reverting to scots here) in Orkney I'd say 'pare peedie-breeks' - I love the Orcadian for children 'small trousered folk'.

      Hellebores are gorgeous aren't they - I dinnae ken why they insist on you looking at them when lying on the ground to see their beauty! Daft gonks of plants if you ask me.

      Nice to see you sir - as always.