In the parenting book that I'm just finishing, I use the analogy of growing a garden. Whilst writing the book I visited gardens and gardeners across England to find those analogies. I chatted with inspiring women (they just happened to all be women) who have opened their gardens to the public: some gardens were small projects, others stately. It has been food for the soul standing in the heady scents of beautiful gardens and seeing different forms of living art and creativity.
Unearthing a surprise
This is Upton Grey in Hartley Wintney, which belongs to my aunt - My mum's cousin, Ros, to be precise. When she and her husband John, bought the home over 35 years ago, it was surrounded by an unruly jungle. They discovered that the grounds had historical, horticultural significance and Ros has lovingly and painstakingly turned it into a beautiful garden.
My gorgeous Labrador, Bella, accompanied me on my visit, but I was glad I left her in the car because, being a gun dog, she has a taste for chickens, and these gorgeous bantams would have been gone in seconds!
Crisis averted, I enjoyed understanding the journey of rebuilding this legacy (you’ll have to read the book to find out why the garden is significant). Ros unearthed a beautiful pond and then discovered some deep and complex foundations on the main lawn that revealed it had been a grass tennis court; a British rarity! Handy for Tim Henman, who lived up the road in his heyday.
The long view
When we raise a family we have an opportunity to stop and ask ourselves questions about the sort of adults we hope to raise. After all, we will be parenting adults for a lot longer than we will be parenting children. So if we want to reap a good harvest, we need to plan what we sow. Ros shared the plans and visions that she’d had for her garden all those years ago and I was privileged to enjoy the fruit of what she has sown.
The journey of raising a family is never easy and, even with the best laid plans all sorts of assailants will attempt to throw us off course. But having a dream and a vision for our families can help us to to stick to our own path amongst the noise and bluster of the world, in the face of other people’s opinions and amidst other parents who may have different goals and objectives.
What is your greatest hope for the adults you will send out into the world?
Plans discovered for the garden