This November until February 2021 I will be in my own chrysalis, I had decided to take a massive step back from school talks as the last 4 summers I’ve spoken to over 10,000 people around the country and I realized I really love spending time in nature and my own garden. This spring my whole family has been busy transforming our garden ready for the butterflies to enjoy and for us to grow a variety of vegetables, salads, and herbs to eat this summer.

We moved into a lovely new house post lockdown, right near a large lake, which is home to a variety of birds & wildlife it is very tranquil & beautiful. I love walking most days with my dog around the reserve, the only downside was our back garden had nothing for the bees butterflies, and NO colour.

I love transformation, we had a blank canvas to work with. In the last 8 weeks, we have made progress & started eating from our veggie boxes, my glasshouse is home to over 270 swan plants of various stages, with plenty of veggies/flower seedlings. We have unloaded so many trailers loads of soil to fill our 3 new veggies boxes, my 12-year-old son Lucas assembled the glasshouse and my husband inserted the glass, Lola has been chief seed sower and 5-year-old Felix drilled the holes into the veggie boxes. Felix & Lola have been planting without me knowing some days before 8 am in their school uniform, loving the little garden seeds that they totally got into. They didn’t do all the work, I did so too. Re-potting of seedlings can take days and days to complete!

This is one of the major reasons I have taken a step back with school talks to focus on growing my own children and garden. I will be back in full swing in February 2021!! This means I will only be talking at garden clubs in the evening, and continuing speaking at locals schools that have booked me already.

This year I have promised my family our glasshouse will not be overtaken with swan plants like previous years, and we go back to planting salad items and veggies. It’s been great, Lucas enjoyed assembling the glasshouse which took 2 days – he said “it was like a Lego instructions book, it was fun”. We will be looking forward to all the beneficial insects arriving this summer, and already the bees are here at 7 am (when the sun is actually out….come one summer where are you) most mornings on my borage and poppy plants which they love, that had self-seeded in my pots from last year.

It’s all worth the hard work, soon I will get to sit in my chair admiring all the flowers in bloom and harvesting our crops, I just love watching everything around me growing throughout the seasons. Nature is pretty special and one of the best places to be in, relaxing with a glass of wine or a cup of tea. The glasshouse layout is next year’s focus as I have just put tables in at the moment for seed trays and at the back end we have dug in our own compost into the soil, then planted our orka’s tomatoes, cucumbers, and chilli plants into. Any ideas or advice for my garden I’m happy to hear from you.

In the last couple of years, we have grown fewer and fewer veggies and herbs as swan plants have taken over my life in a good way, but this takes heaps of time nurturing the plants and caterpillars. It’s great to have a balance and grow a variety of different plants flowers and herbs. I love propagating indoor and outdoor plants, whilst checking their roots daily to see how much they have grown…does anyone else do this, or am I just a plant geek too? I have also got a large garden around the front that I have many succulents in and flowers which I have always loved growing over the years and gifting them to friends. It’s pretty rare for someone to leaves my house without an indoor plant cutting, milkweed plant, or a succulent to plant in their own home.

The family has loved helping and working together, it’s been a great project and Lola has just put the finishing touches in and added the irrigation pipes, that something I don’t know where to start to begin, as that’s my husband’s department. Even though irrigation is now in I will still enjoy watering as I find it relaxing, and have fun when my dog tries to drink the from the hose and get gets in my way playing.

It’s so rewarding how far we have come in 8 weeks when we all chipped in as a family.

Over the past few years, we have trying to go as organic as possible, this means having our own worm farm that we can feed our veggies with, making our own compost, and not using any pesticides or herbicides. To keep the slugs at bay, we sprinkle eggs shells around the little seedlings as slugs will not walk on them. As extra security and boost of warmth we also cut up milk bottles and these act as mini glasshouses, we have always found this method great in giving our seedlings the best possible start in life. Occasionally we find snails that also like eating seedlings, but I always find them new homes in my neighbour’s gardens.

If you would like to know more about creating a beautiful butterfly and bee garden, my excellent full-color A4 resource book on everything you need to know about the wonderful life cycle is available below.

An Educational Guide on Monarch Butterflies

My glasshouse can be purchased from amazing friendly service and great instructions that even a 12 year can put together, or you can get a local person to come in and assemble. The glasshouse in the pictures above is a Statesman 2.57×3.8 meters.

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