#Perennial Party…..Taking a piece of my garden with me.

I don’t travel well. I’m much happier surrounded by familiar sights and sounds. I’ve become accustomed to green fields and birdsong.  My favourite place is the potting shed. A quiet, peaceful haven- shared with a cheeky robin. The scent of potted Carnegie white hyacinths and creamy Paperwhite narcissi wafts around. I’m reluctant to leave….

But I need to travel to London. So after much fussing with packing and checking train times and tickets, at least 50 times,  I set off for the unfamiliar.

Just at the garden gate, I see some violets in flower.   Nearby, the first snowdrops are in bud. There’s a primrose poking through the leafmould. And there’s a tiny hellebore flower wearing a hat of  compressed beech leaves. The leaves have protected the plant and forced the flowers into early growth.

So I pick a few flowers and gather them into a tiny posy. I wrap them in dark green gutta tape  to lock in moisture. I twirl around some string, add some lavender from the potting shed table, and set off for London- carrying a tiny piece of my garden with me. A talisman. A kind of amulet. Protection against the noise, hustle and bustle.


Propped up on the flip-down table on the train, the scent from the violets is a welcome reminder of home. I look about to see if anyone else is bothered by the noise and diesel fumes. They don’t seem to notice.


I’d forgotten that snowdrops have a strong honey scent. The flowers start to open as we travel along. These are   Galanthus elwesii, the first to flower in my garden.


The hellebore is called Jacob. It’s a  strong, healthy variety. Dependable and hardy. The violets and primroses arrived  as seedlings from my grandfather’s garden. I have happy memories of grandad Foulds arriving each Sunday with a little piece of his garden; a cutting, a seedling, or division. He loved walking around the plot, pointing out the weeds, giving advice on growing veg and cut flowers. After we had  pottered in the greenhouse and orchard, he’d settle down in a cosy armchair with home-made cake and tea. Such memories are a comfort, brought back to life by these few flowers.


And this is the place I’m travelling to. The Barbican conservatory, for the annual party for Perennial. I’m a fish out of water. A country mouse. But I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone to support a charity that is dedicated to helping all people who work in horticulture.  I’ve been lucky enough to make my living from horticulture for this past 20 years, and I care about the gardeners, contractors and tree surgeons I work with. Perennial provides a “lifebelt” to anyone in a crisis. Advice, help and financial support, for anyone of any age.


The auction featuring luxury holidays and events  raised more than £11,000, and there were raffle prizes too. It’s the most hectic and noisy event I’ve ever attended. But I’m glad I’ve pushed myself out of my little potting shed. The chance to support a valued charity, and see friends from all over the country, has been worth it.


Looking in the pink are from left to right  Fran SuermondtTanya BatkinPerennial’s Laura Garnett,  host James Alexander-Sinclair,   writers Naomi Slade , Alison Levey, and in front, Barbara Segall.

Do you have a favourite charity to support? Do you ever carry a piece of your garden with you on your travels? What measures do you take to cope when you are stepping outside of your comfort zone? I’d love to hear your news and views. 

Read more about Perennial here.

33 thoughts on “#Perennial Party…..Taking a piece of my garden with me.

  1. What a delightful story Karen! I love the idea (well, the reality) of the flowers gently opening as the train wended its way to the city, spreading their scent through the carriage! So glad the event proved fun and friendly! Do I have a favourite charity to support? Well, I am involved in one that is against human trafficking. It’s an issue I’m deeply concerned about, hence today’s post on my other blog should be interested: https://lifesentences.blog/2017/01/22/the-sunday-supplement-slavery-2-0/ As to taking a bit of garden with me, no I haven’t yet. But if go somewhere urban, I do try and get out and find a natural place to walk in.

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  2. By far the best measure I’ve found when meeting new garden-lovers is to trust to the fact that they are invariably kind, thoughtful, welcoming and funny, but what a wonderful idea it was to take a talisman posy along too. It’s nice to see a few people I’ve met several times before in the picture, including the lovely Barbara.

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    • Thank you. Yes, I met Barbara at Hodsock Priory last January for the snowdrop festival. She’s such a lovely, supportive person. I enjoyed meeting up with all the people from the gardening world. Thanks for commenting. All the best. Karen x

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  3. What a beautiful thought evoking blog. I love that you take a few pieces of your garden with you when traveling. We have just returned from a one night stay in London and I feel like a country bumkin too! I try to soak in as much greenery as possible when I’m away from home, it’s like a drug to me! A worthy charity to support. We open our garden for the NGS and I have an annual Macmillan coffee morning. All worthy causes x

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    • Thank you for your kind comments. I nearly always travel with a sprig of lavender and rosemary in my coat pocket. It makes the coat stand smell lovely, too. mum and I support the NGS scheme by visiting gardens every Sunday through the summer. We are just planning our outings for the NGS snowdrop festival. So looking forward to getting out and having a walk on a Sunday, plus cake and tea in a beautiful garden. I raised money for Macmillan by holding a garden design clinic at a garden centre last summer. It was a fun occasion and raised £400. Macmillan is a charity I’m very keen to support as both my grandparents and my father were helped in their final weeks with care at home aided by the wonderful Macmillan Nurses. We literally could not have managed without them. We really were down to our last reserves of energy when they stepped in to help. But thankfully they ensured my loved ones died at home- where they wanted to be- and with dignity. It makes a difference. Thank you again x

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  4. A most enjoyable post and lovely pictures. I don’t like travelling nowadays and feel as you do.
    Nice to see that you all had a good evening and enjoyed yourselves supporting such a worthy cause.
    I support the gardening charity Thrive. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Mike. I’ve looked up the Thrive charity. I had heard of it, but never had any dealings with it before. I see that it does really good work with stroke survivors and cancer patients. The exercise and fresh air, and companionship improves mental health, and stamina and balance. I’ll add them to my list to send donations to when I do any fund raising. Thanks for the information, and thanks for taking the time to comment. It’s much appreciated. All the best. Karen x

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      • Karen you’re most welcome. I’ve just spent an hour chatting with Sandy Fitzgerald, Thrive’s Business Development Manager, about various aspects of the charity from a donor/supporter’s point of view. xx

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      • Just about to order some Zinnia Lilliput Purple from Chiltern seeds. £1.50 from every packet is going to go to Thrive. I thought it was a good way to promote the charity. Hope you are keeping warm. x

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    • That is so true. It is forever known as Sue’s hellebore, or grandma’s fuchsia. Happy memories always associated with plants/ cuttings/offsets given as gifts. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog. It’s much appreciated.

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    • Thank you so much Cathy. I too have a little lavender bag, which reminds me so much of my grandmother. I’m really glad to make your acquaintance, via Mike, who I’m a big fan of. All the very best. Karen x

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  5. What a lovely idea to carry a bit of your garden with you and such a pretty posy it was too. I enjoyed hearing about Grandad Foulds, it’s funny how a plant can transport you back in time and evoke precious and happy memories.

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    • Thank you Jo. It was a comfort to remember Grandad Foulds. Flowers bring back such happy memories. Thanks for taking the time to read my post and for commenting. All the best. Karen x

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  6. I can almost smell the flowers. I had a great flashback when I saw your string tied bunch of flowers. It was of one of the loveliest weddings I have attended. The bride had hand tied her own bouquet in the same way, also that of her bridesmaid.

    I am glad the flowers lasted the journey into the big smoke. Those trains and all the interconnections can get rather rushed and busy.

    Lovely photos.

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    • I’m glad my post brought back some happy memories. The lavender and violets certainly were an antidote to diesel fumes and stress. Thanks for taking the time to read my post and for commenting. It’s much appreciated. All the best, Karen x

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  7. Fortunately a Perennial Party rather than a perennial party – perish the thought! Your talisman of comforting home thoughts is as delightful as your photographs are stunning. Thank you for sharing this and your thoughts – I hope you came back home again feeling just a little strengthened by what you had achieved. As a shy child so many things used to be out of my comfort zone but from my 20s onwards having already learned that listeners are as important as talkers my confidence grew to make me the person I am now whereas I can talk to anyone and see new experiences as adventures. Perhaps not surprisingly ‘my’ charity is a listening one. Thinking of you

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    • I agree with you. Listening is so important. I think sometimes people don’t really hear what’s being said. There’s a difference between listening and really understanding the message behind the words. It takes skill, time and effort. All the best, Cathy, and thanks for taking the time to read my piece and comment. xxx

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  8. I’m in awe of your doggedness in leaving your comfort zone to attend an excellent fund raiser in the city. I’ve lived in London for the past 30 years and still feel slightly panicked at going anywhere new. In the past year thought I’ve attended several Garden Media Guild events and have found people to be welcoming and friendly. I almost went to Perennial but funds were a bit tight after christmas, it looks like a good night out though! Loved the tale of your grandad’s visits; I hung out with both my gardening grandads many years ago, fond memories indeed now!

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    • Thank you Caro. I’ve just joined the GMG, so I hope I’ll see you at some of the events this year. I will be the one hiding behind the bouquet from home. It’s great to remember our gardening grandparents isn’t it. I learned everything from them, and also from my Mum, who still helps me a lot in my garden. She grows lots of seedlings for my cut flower garden. Thanks for taking the time to read my post and also for commenting. It’s much appreciated. All the best. Karen x

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  9. Beautiful pictures Karen. Perennial is a wonderful charity, our garden club supported it last year with a celebrity speaker and raffle. Thank you for following my new blog. I tried to find your blog via your gravatar but there is no link on the gravatar profile.

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