I have begun the exciting journey to try to become a cut flower farmer, growing British flowers mostly from seed. That I started to grow flowers after being diagnosed with breast cancer seems to me to be a glorious happenstance.
The metaphors flow from my keyboard – I sowed the seeds of hope, the blooming of a new way of living, the blossoming of happiness, wake up and smell the flowers, when a seed flowers everyone recognises its beauty, you reap what you sow, the root of one’s success.
But for me, it isn’t just a metaphor.
The acts of sowing and propagating seeds, caring for the seedlings, planting them out, nurturing, protecting, feeding and watering them, before finally cultivating and bringing them back in to my house (and hopefully into others’ houses, offices and shops) have given me a new purpose and helped me to focus my attention on something other than being ill and recovering from illness.
The story began when I couldn’t make a long anticipated visit to Chelsea Flower Show as I had chemotherapy scheduled for two days before. My treatments always knocked me out, so I told my Mum to find someone else to go with.
But when I managed to get out of bed on the morning of the show I was greeted by a huge array of horticultural goodies.
Packets of seeds galore, bulbs, plants and pots to grow them in, and a rather wonderful kneeling pad for my chemotherapy ravaged knees.
I was surprised and thrilled in equal measures. Liam had decided that if I couldn't go to Chelsea, then Chelsea would come to me. It turned out that he had emailed and Facebooked friends and family, explaining the situation, and asked them to send me one packet of seeds – they had responded in a rather wonderful way.
Learning About Flowers… and Life
I really am learning all of this flower growing business as I go along, with much reference to YouTube videos and articles in the RHS The Garden magazine. I’ve enjoyed Youtube videos by Claire Brown at Plant passion – this is one example. Another great site is Floret Flowers, an American flower farmer, and her website has loads of great resources.
There’s always something to learn, and new growth happening on the plants, every day.
For me, it’s a bit like learning to live again after breast cancer. I’ve put my life back together gradually, one day at a time, learning as I go along. I’ve made real and virtual connections with other women who’ve had breast cancer and they’ve helped me to look at different and new ways of living. I’ve listened to self-help podcasts and meditation apps. Some days it seems really easy and I don’t have a care in the world; on others it’s a struggle and I just want to curl up in bed and binge watch Grey's Anatomy.
I’ve been sowing seeds inside since February and now have some very strong seedlings planted out into my cutting patch. For me one of the most exciting parts of gardening is spotting a new seed emerging from the soil – I never get tired of seeing that. Tomorrow I plan to sow some more seeds directly into the patch – Lupins, Hollyhocks, Delphiniums and Sunflowers. Oh yes...I also now have an addiction to buying seeds!
I’ll never stop learning about gardening, and I’ll never know all of the answers to how to live a happy healthy life. What I do know is that gardening and flowers make me feel good and I need good in my life.
Juliet writes a blog called Blooming Cancer and flowers are the reason for the “blooming” part of the title. She sees this both in terms of blooming flowers and also as a blooming of her personal development. Just as a seed grows, is nourished and thrives, so she has grown from a negative, anxious, fearful woman into one who is positive, happy and excited about the future.