I remember hydrangeas being everywhere when I was growing up during the 1970s. Now they are back in vogue and you can't walk down the street without seeing their audacious pom-pom flowers billowing over walls and paths, I suspect many may have been there all that time, though the last few years have commanded my attention. One of the loveliest things about making nature jewellery is constantly noticing natural entities to make into pieces and those little hydrangea petals are no exception.
There is an ancient Japanese legend whereby an Emperor who was in love gave hydrangea to the family of the girl he loved to make up for neglecting her and putting his business first. The hydrangea, native to Japan and Asia (and Americas) more generally, has become associated with heartfelt emotion, gratitude for understanding and perhaps, and at least in Japan because of this myth, apology. They have also been used by ancient healers to break curses, if you've been unlucky enough to experience a curse you know which flowers to reach for. The Victorians thought they've symbolised boastfulness though I think they might have felt that about anything as flamboyant as a hydrangea!
These unapologetic blooms have been in the UK since the 18th Century. They are robust, they can be grown in pots and many of the 70 varieties in shady spots. Even when the flowers die and dry out their beauty remains, as a brief look through the Instagram hashtag #lovelydeadcrap will reveal, or the shelf of any forager you know! Some varieties even change colour depending on the pH of the soil they are planted in. If you're thinking of getting one plant in the autumn or spring for it to be happiest. Hydrangeas needs a lot of water and well-drained soil (hydrangea comes from the Greek word for water vessel). You can find out more at the RHS: www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=122. If you are in Cornwall you can visit Trebah for a whole valley of hydrangeas.
I would love to hear your hydrangea stories, do you remember them growing up? Do you have any tips for this care?
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This post is about how I use Instagram images to nurture my creativity, and where this has lead me. I went through a period in my life, a long one, where I did not nurture my creativity at all (despite being a creative person) and during that time I felt a stagnation creeping into my soul, though I was unaware of this happening. This became untenable, and a bit like a dam breaking the need to create bubbled over and I started making and making, this was the start of Grace and Flora, and later, discovering photography and Instagram.
When creating a moodboard or a flatlay, I'm playing with the objects, paying attention to space, closeness and distance, colour and form, how the objects make me feel, their symbolism and meaning which is personal to or related to something I am working on. Creating images for Instagram makes me see things in a new way, I engage more both out walking and with the objects I've gathered over time. My wish to post good images makes me pay more attention to my surroundings near and further afield. It even gets me out seeking and exploring more than I might otherwise.
When arranging in this way I am working that creative muscle, as I am with painting, or making, so when I need it the creative flow comes more readily. This feels a little like developing a physical muscle you might strengthen and stretch with intention at the gym or practicing yoga and you notice a difference. If you neglect it it will shrink. This is even true of meditation - one of my meditation teachers likened the practice to developing that 'muscle' in the mind to focus your attention on the present moment rather than getting lost in thought - and there's the reason it's called a meditation 'practice', or mindfulness 'practice' - because it can take work to develop. So I'm nurturing a creative 'practice' in myself when creating images for Instagram.
We lovingly call it 'faffing' though I think the experience, usually, can have a deeper impact on our wellbeing than the word implies, even with creating simple images. This takes on a different quality with similarly minded folk, its been lovely to meet others who enjoy this process which makes it fun.
There's a great book called "The Women who Run with the Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Estes which I recommend to any woman who feels creatively disconnected or lost, or just for inspiration. It's a deep and rich book with reflections on archetypal stories of women for us to learn from. It is deep rather than light but worth packing in your holiday bag!
I have never ever been a big social media person, usually a 'late adopter', pretty shy too, but to have found a wonderful community on instagram, despite algorithms and distance, has been very supportive to me as a maker. The advice from our influencers if we want to be seen and grow is to engage more to build a community around ourselves, and this works, and surely, this engagement is the most wonderful thing in its own right. The other aspect we are recommended to enhance this is to post the best content we can. I can only do this by honouring that creative energy in as many ways as possible, and supporting others to do the same.
I wonder what you could do today to nurture that creative life force? Simple suggestions is to take a great photo, pick a pretty posy and arrange it just as you like it, cook something new, take a moment to sketch something that catches your eye in your home or garden. Let me know how you get on!
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