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  • 2011-12 Posted on 19 November 2012

    In 2011 I bought some land off my neighbour
    May 2011 - note the old shed. It was the bottom of their garden and adjoins the bottom of mine.
    Baby's story 
    During clearing ((I had a lot of help) thank you Simon) which involved spreading old piles of composted waste I got stung when I disturbed a wasp nest and sadly without knowing also destroyed a nest of mice. As I sat down for a well needed rest and a cup of tea I saw something move in the recently levelled soil - it was a blind furless baby mouse. I rooted around and found the rest, 2 dead, 1 barely and 2 alive. I moved them out the way to the back of the shed hoping the mother would return but on checking a few hours later 1 had died and the other 2 were being bitten by ants. I brushed them off and moved them the other side of the shed, placed in a ramekin with tissue paper and left them hoping their mother would return overnight.
    I checked the next morning and unfortunately their mother had not returned and surprisingly they were still alive. Obviously the mother was not going to return and I felt responsible and so I became mum to two blind, hairless baby mice. I started feeding normal milk but Simon found fantastic step-by-step YouTube instructions and so we changed to kitty milk and learned to massage mice anus with a cotton wool bud to promote it's natural function and avoid bloat. 1 of the mice died, I think it got too weak and at this point I did not know exactly what I should be doing which involved getting up in the night every 2 hours to feed.
    The other did get bloat and as a few days past, seemed to have something wrong with it's back feet and tail.
    Fed on milk and baby porridge on the tip of a fine brush, she grew daily and one day (finally) she was feeding herself. The RSPB vet thought her leg was broken and she would need to be put down but I requested we try a course of antibiotics so 1 drop a day went in to her water. I am pleased to say the vet was wrong and the swollen legs and tail disappeared and before long she was hopping round her 4 foot tank.
    It's over a year later and 'Baby' is still happy & healthy. 
    A weird year
    I am omitting the most important thing but it is hard to put everything in context and make sense of anything when your mother dies - Saturday 2nd April 2011 - the day before Mother's day. I could say so much and yet still feel lost for words. No one tells you about grief, how all consuming it is, how it literally breaks your heart and permanently leaves you a darker person. It never goes and you will never be the same again.... Breathe. It is hard to write anything and so here is the shortest paragraph on the most important thing to ever happen to me. I will simply say that the year before, I picked her one of the last flowers of the daylily that now bears her name, Vectis Jean Peirce.
    I may be biased but I believe it to be beautiful.  
                                                                                                            She was beautiful.
    ....and so a little time later in 2011
    A journalist contacts me because she spotted my older garden pic's on the BHHS site and asks if she can pay a visit. I am not sure I gave it any thought, what to expect, but Jean Vernon arrived at the end of June (when the daylilies are at their best) with a photographer friend Heather Edwards   http://www.htedwards.co.uk/ and during a rather shitty year,............ I had a good day.
    Both were very complimentary about the garden, more than anyone else had ever been before, and for the first time it felt like someone understood and appreciated how I was gardening and what I was doing.
    'Glory days', a five page article was published a year later in the 2012 July edition of the English Garden magazine. 
    So here is a similar shot nearly a year later 06/04/12.
    An oak tree had to come down ((too big for anyone's garden unless you have a park) replaced by Robinia purple sensation) and the bays were pollarded. I snaked gravel paths through and filled the beds with whatever I had letting verbenas and foxgloves fill all the gaps. 
    The shed got moved back, was practically rebuilt with a lot of help from my dad and I put two doors on the front where the windows were originally. 
     Too posh to be called a shed and too low-rent to be called a summerhouse, it has it's own plaque -
           15/07/12                                                         09/07/12
    Amazing what plants will do in a year.
    As a result of what happened in 2011, I rethought my priorities, decided life is too short and time precious. I have reduced my work hours, I have no spare money but am lucky enough that I don't really want for anything, resourceful enough to adapt and now blessed with the time to commit to what I really enjoy doing.
    After publication of the article in 2012 I had a lot of kind, generous and like minded visitors to the garden so I am opening 3 dates for NGS in 2013.
    I am sowing, growing & potting on for this and the Bembridge street fair, seeking out and growing the unusual and hard to find together with my registered daylilies.
    Not sure where this will take me but Vectis Jean Peirce is coming with me. 
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