The Joy of Solitude


Gardening is often thought of as a solitary profession and I am sometimes asked if I ever get lonely. Chance would be a fine thing. There’s always something going on and it’s been all go recently with diggers and dumper trucks here dredging our ponds. It has smelt like the seaside, but the results have been worth it. We now have deep, clear ponds, although Hew, Gary and Nigel have been up to their necks in mud plugging the holes with clay where water was escaping – fingers crossed it’s all fixed now.

A greenhouse at Columbine Hall

I am a sociable sort of gal – happy in company, comfortable talking to all kinds of people, but I value too those hours of tranquility spent in the garden.

Solitude, very different from loneliness, can be such a valuable thing – a chance to be at one with nature and the earth.

As I write these words in my potting shed overlooking the moat, I hear nothing but the sound of the birds. I am enjoying the peace of being in my own company where I get to think deep and creatively.

My greenhouse is my retreat. It is a place where I go with a mug of coffee first thing in the morning and breathe in that earthy smell of moist compost warmed by the sun and savour the moment.

Spring is here. It feels like a prize for enduring the long winter months. That extra volume of birdsong and the smell – yes the actual scent of plants growing all filter into my system. I bask in the springness of it all, the promise of so much more to come and the enriching properties of solitude.