The seeds of change

I think it is possible that a momentous change has happened and nobody noticed.

I am NOT a crazy cat lady. True story.
I am NOT a crazy cat lady. True story.

Well, no-one in my world that is… not that I would expect all seven billion people on this planet to notice. I’m not crazy-cat-lady you know!

No, this momentous change is only really a big deal to me.

And maybe my FAb hubby.

And possibly the Neanderthol – although, he really probably hasn’t noticed at all. It’s kinda challenging* (*for ‘challenging’ read ‘impossible’) to drag him away from amusing epic fails on YouTube or out-takes of ‘Friends’ or ‘How I met Your Mother’ or blasting some cyber-dork or another with some unimaginable cube-shaped W.M.D constructed in MineCraft, or something else like it. I KNOW he’s a boy and boys have to do stupid stuff when they’re teenagers so that they will grow out of this stage before some sweet, baby-faced female-type person comes along and charms him into abandoning his poor mother for ever, but I am edging ever closer to creeping into his room one day when he’s out at college and messing mightily with his passwords so that he HAS to initiate a conversation with me rather than pretending I don’t exist.

Ah, Mr Tinkle and I have been expecting you...
Ah, Mr Tinkle and I have been expecting you…

I imagine he’d come downstairs and ask me sweetly if anyone had, like, been in his, like, room or whatever, like during today or something, like, because someone has, like, messed up his passwords with some, like, shizzle, that he, like, simply cannot get a grip on, ‘cos, like, it’s kinda, like, well, blown his mind? (I offer my sincere apologies to well-spoken English people everywhere … )

I also imagine I will swivel slowly in my special turny-round chair, stroking a random white Persian kitty (whom I think I will call ‘Mr Tinkle’, for no reason other than it’s a darned stupid name…) and sporting a rather fetching monocle (of course – what were you expecting?!) I will smile sweetly at him before delivering my killer line… ‘I’ve been expecting you…’ . Dammit, that one’s been done before hasn’t it? Ah, well. Back to my seeds of change.

You see, this change is very simple. I’ve discovered, after  about forty years of thinking the exact opposite, that I quite like gardening.

Perhaps this could have come earlier eh?
Perhaps this could have come earlier eh?

Hold onto your hats there folks… I realise that was pretty Earth-shattering stuff there! Maybe I should have placed a big warning sign on this piece – at the very least I could have warned you to make sure you were sitting down and not doing anything that might cause you damage if you had a little bit of a teeny shock or something? I must remember to be more considerate in the future!


Gardening was always something I never really quite understood. I mean I *get* the whole ‘pretty flowers’ thing that most gardens seem to have going on. I can appreciate a beautiful example of fetching flora from an artistic point of view of course. I’ve always enjoyed spending time in people’s gardens that follow that principle – lots of attractive, colourful, magically-perfumed blooms to look at, sniff the air around and feel ‘close to nature’. Yep. That one was ticked off the list many moons ago for me. (cue lots of pictures of my glorious flowers for your perusal!)

I'm gonna be a raspberry soon ...
I’m gonna be a raspberry soon …
There will be HUGE broad beans soon...
There will be HUGE broad beans soon…
I love cornflowers
I love cornflowers

I even sort of understood the hordes of horticulturalists who like to grow their own food – vegetables and fruit picked straight from the garden and eaten within an hour of them being coddled safe in the ground/on a vine/tree/bush or wherever they were growing, just taste amazing. My brother used to grow vegetables and fruit in the garden and made a special effort to grow cucumbers just for me and wonderful simply can’t get close to describing how fresh and flavourful was their palatableness. I was indebted to him for many things, but the cucumbers are probably the most favourable memories!

But the problem with gardens, whether they are devoted to floral phantasmas or vegetable vagaries, or even (as many seem to) some combination of the two, is very simple. They are darned hard graft. All that digging and weeding, scrabbling around knee-deep in earth,  wheeling the wheelbarrow to distant corners of the plot, carrying water everywhere, jousting with hostile hoses, wrestling with leaky watering cans – did I mention the digging? And the weeding?

Gnomes 'gnow' stuff, you know!
Gnomes ‘gnow’ stuff, you know!

How people know the difference between which greenery are weeds and which are prized plants, I wondered (possibly slightly in awe) for many years. As far as I could tell, you had to have some kind of sixth sense as a gardener that enabled you to read books about agriculture or cultivating plants without dying of dullness from the taedium vitae.

Of course all of this goes hand in hand with the second serious drawback of being a *gardener*. The fact that I would have to do daily battle with alarming arthropods of every variety. I’ve said before that spiders are on my list of creatures that should be damned to Hell and back, but they are only the tip of a very long list of similar critters and since I recognise that there’s a lot more of them in this world than there are of me, I’ve always been happy to compromise – as long as they don’t get all uppity and attempt to join me in MY dwelling-place, then I will allow them their own space outdoors. It’s only fair. Me inside. Them outside. It’s a very agreeable compromise I think. And I can be generous to a fault about this arrangement, believe me.

So it’s as much a surprise to me as it probably is to you, dear reader, to find me up to my elbows in soil as I re-pot tiny seedlings into larger containers. To find I have my own special gardening gloves (proper suede/leather ones too – none of those shabby namby-pamby cotton ones with little rubber grip-spots that you get in the supermarkets!) and that I wear them to hoike the two hundred yards of hose-pipe around most evenings, giving my little darlings precious watering, if it hasn’t rained today. To find me ostentatiously nattering about my delphiniums and lavatera, my sweet-peas, fuchsias and clematis as well as my marigolds, geraniums, bizzy lizzies and petunias to anyone who will listen? I swear, I go into paroxysms of pride about my wonderful wisteria (which has grown at least eight inches in less than two weeks!) and I’m almost weeping tears of joy  because my magnolia has sprouted at least five nodules in it’s new position on the back (North-facing) patio! It’s MADNESS, I tell you!

Pretty viola
Pretty viola
Lots of pretty violas
Lots of pretty violas

So, when my friend Avril pointed out to me that I could collect the seed-heads from my well-past-their-best violas that had filled some of the hanging baskets, which would save me a fortune in buying new ones to replace them, I found myself doing exactly that. Who knew?

Each seed pod has about thirty seed inside
Each seed pod has about thirty seed inside

On Wednesday I took the bull by the horn, or rather the dry, dead flower-heads by the roots, and pulled them from their comfy resting places, leaving holes in the soil that I filled with other small plants (that I had potted on earlier!).

I fought with arachnids, black beetles and woodlice to retrieve the prized seedpods from each little floret. There were so many! It took a fair while to collect them in, but I was pleased with my achievement.

I took the seed pods into my studio and set them down onto the table, next to a small pile of ironing, whilst I went off to research what to do with them next.

I forgot about them (briefly) as dinner called.

Later on, as our national football team skipped around the stadium in Brazil (the less said about that, the better probably) my FAB hubby decided to do some ironing.

I didn’t connect that with what happened until this morning.

The random pattern of dispersal should have alerted me...
The random pattern of dispersal should have alerted me…


Entering the studio, eager to pursue my seed-gathering learning, I was horrified to find that there were seeds ALL OVER the table-top. Simply EVERYWHERE!

I knew what had happened immediately and began berating my FAB hubby in no uncertain terms. He’d just GRABBED all the ironing yesterday evening, in his hurry to watch the match and hadn’t noticed that he’d made such an unholy mess of my poor little seeds… it would take me FOREVER to gather them all up and collect them together to sow them now. HARUMPH! His crest-fallen apology fell upon almost deaf ears. I really was quite cross.

After considerable ‘huffing’ and pointed glaring, I began the task of collecting together each tiny, lost little seed. It was painstaking work. I needed a magnifying glass, some tweezers and a whole lot of patience. I’m not long on the patience front.

But then, I noticed the way that the seeds were spread across the table, the chair and the floor. He must have REALLY smacked the ironing pile to create this random pattern for the seeds to fall into. It almost looked like some kind of explosion had occurred.

Then, I looked into the tray where I had gathered the pods into and noticed something.

Many of them weren’t rounded any more.

Star shaped remains after they have *burst*
Star shaped remains after they have *burst*

Many, if not all of them, had opened up into a kind of three-pointed-star shape, with some still having seeds along each arm of the stars. It struck me as very pretty.

THAT’S when it hit me.


Seed dispersal 101: Bursting
Seed dispersal 101: Bursting

The seed-heads had behaved entirely as Nature intended them to. At a predetermined moment (set by Mother Nature herself, I imagine) each little seed pod had EXPLODED, catapulting all the seeds they contained as far as their last store of energy could possibly take them – about half a metre across my table, over my chair and floor, into all sorts of nooks and crannies, that had they been left outside would have ensured their survival as a plant.

It’s called ‘bursting’  and there’s a fabulous little animation if you click on the dispersal picture on the right. Hmm.

I needed to apologise.

You’ll be surprised to hear (I suspect) that it’s not something I excel at. (See Eileen, and others who think I can do anything well!)

I made some tea and found the chocolate bikkies to give my compunctious words more gravitas.

The FAB hubby graciously accepted them in the spirit they were given. Thank goodness for that!

Thanks for reading!



4 Replies to “The seeds of change”

  1. Thanks Dave! I am glad to hear that my neanderthol is following in the footsteps of three such fantastic young men – if he turns out half as well as all of them, i will be a very happy mum 🙂 (please give Dan, David & Mike all my love x) Also, of course I am highly relieved that the arachnids here are not likely to actually kill me from some real, physical venom or whatever, but even though ours are tiny (by comparison) they mess with my head and make me believe they are deadly! I’ve been known to faint when in an enclosed space with a spider … I’d never last in Oz! So, I am grateful for such small mercies too. Thanks for reading 🙂


  2. Great to read Liz. lovely photos and some excellent anecdotes – especially re: neanderthals (they are all the same).
    At least when gardening in Yorkshire you don’t have the challenges of a) no rain for 8 months of the year b) spiders which can, and do kill, c) snakes which can, and do kill, and regular temps in the 100’sF in the summer – which ensures nothing grows, and mild wet seasons in the winter which are much more welcome, but of course its not the growing season…… the plants get very confused, as they follow the world wide season patter ie. W,Sp,Su,Au.
    This explains why almost everything in our shops is imported from such local places as California, UK, Lebanon and Greece.!!
    Keep writing, Liz, I love your stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

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