Seedy Penpals – First Letters

…sons of bankers, sons of lawyers,
turn around and say, “good morning” to the night.
For unless they see the sky, but they can’t and that is why,
they know not if it’s dark outside or light

Elton John

Seedy Penpals

Seedy Penpals is up and running thanks to the hard work of Mel at Edible Things and Carl Legge.  Some of the people doing it I know a little, like Carla in Rome, and Maria Paola in the New Forest, but we are not necessarily paired up with people we know and in fact that is part of the excitement and the mild terror of writing to someone you don’t know at all, have no clues about at all, except a willingness to reach out to another human being and begin tentatively to make contact.

So now I have two new friends, I don’t know what else to call them, Joyce and Michelle and the potential for many more in the future. Joyce and I exchanged email addresses and a clutch of emails describing our gardens to each other and what we like to grow and then Joyce sent me these in the post. She wrote to me as well describing the seeds and why she had chosen them

The Christopher Lloyd french marigolds are much taller than other french marigolds. I keep the seeds from year to year and they are very precious. Christoper Lloyd was my gardening idol and influenced my gardening style greatly….the white borage is quite an untidy plant – the bumble bees love them

and very excitingly because I have sown them already – a selection  saying

Sow Now

Seedy Penpals(like something out of Alice in Wonderland) a selection of Japanese Greens, Chervil and Corn Salad for autumn eating – in salads and stir frys I am hoping.

I have sent in my  turn some seeds to Michelle who also runs the 52 week salad project (we don’t send and receive to the same person) which somehow got put to one side as I went up and down the country earlier this year. I will post something about that again soon.

I have been reading loads of gardening blogs and thinking about how very hard people work at their gardening. I think too about all the thinking that goes behind it, the exploring and the reading, the fine tuning and most of all the complex set of emotions that growing food and flowers, raising trees, looking at soil and weather engenders in our hearts and minds. At the risk of romanticising the work, it is a wonderful thing to be able to do and embeds you in your life in a way that sitting in front of a computer screen can never do.

Special Tin for Seedy Penpals Seeds. This is an old perfectly airtight Japanese Seaweed Cracker tin given to me by a lodger many years ago

I don’t get involved with that many people I don’t know – let me amend that – I don’t think of myself as someone who is good at making new friends – but – of course I have made new friends with people who read this blog, people I have met on baking days, people I talk to when I walk the dogs and people I tweet with on Twitter. Some of them I will never meet in person, but all the same, there is connection, a reaching out to the Other and as you get older this is increasingly precious.

Seedy PenpalsSeedy Penpals

Here are your seeds coming up Joyce!  Fingers crossed and I will let you know how they do and what happens next. Thank you so much for being my Seedy Penpal. It was thrilling to receive your seeds and I hope I can nurture them well.

This is just the start and Seedy Penpals will be carrying on into the future, so if you want to join in, even in the smallest, most tentative way I know you will be welcome!

Do you have friends you will most likely never meet? In my teens I wrote to a prisoner in a German prison, something my language exchange family suggested. We wrote for a few months and then I think he left prison. He just came back to my mind, but I am not sure I can remember his name now and that is the other thing that all this reminds me of: friends do indeed come and go; there are people with whom you have great long exchanges of emails who then just vanish again, but that’s all fine, life is like that.

32 thoughts on “Seedy Penpals – First Letters

  1. ediblethings

    What a lovely parcel, and a gorgeous tin. I am envious.
    I’m so pleased you enjoyed the first Seedy Swap. And that you have already got new and exciting varieties growing already. I’m delighted that you got the chervil, so delicate and so delicious.

    1. Joanna Post author

      It’s been fun so far, and it pushed me to think about sowing seeds at a time of year when I never have before. I have so much to learn :)

  2. Carl Legge

    Joanna, that is just a beautiful post. It’s lyrical and captures the spirit of our intentions for Seedy Penpals brilliantly. I’m so pleased you’ve given & received so much from it and not just the seeds. Thanks very much for your support

    Carl x

  3. VP

    What a lovely post. I must find a special Seedy Penpal tin immediately!

    I loved your musings on friendships – I often regret those which have lapsed, but your sensible words at that being OK and normal is most reassuring :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      I am quite good at being sensible on the blog, less so in real life, (throws compost all down inside of t-shirt etc etc, don’t ask how I do that) ;)

  4. Lynne Clark (@josordoni)

    What a fab post Joanna! I don’t have any seeds to swap, as I didn’t grow anything this year, but next year I may have some chillis :))

    And I so agree with you about the reaching out and making contact, it really doesn’t matter if we meet or not, I feel so glad that I have “met” so many amazingly inspirational people through Twitter (you and Carl and Carla included ). Thank you.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks Lynne :) Twitter took a lot of getting used to, mysterious codes and symbols and all but I am very fond of it now and the great folk I meet there, I like it much more than Facebook

  5. artistsgarden

    What a delightful and thoughtful post.

    I first met VP through blogging – and despite living miles away from each other, we became firm friends … but it was a tad scary the first time she came to visit! :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hello K ! Thanks for reading. I just had a peek at your blog and will be back to read more soon. I like the look of that Tornado twist bird feeder :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      I hope they work, I will endeavour to be truthful about whether they go. There was a neighbour’s ginger cat today in the garden eyeing up the salad boxes and thinking about whether he could use them as a loo. I have put things on top of them to discourage him.

  6. hotlyspiced

    I had a lot of penpals when I was growing up but somehow I lost contact with them all. It’s a shame really that I didn’t work harder at making the friendships last. I think the seed idea is a great idea and not just because of the seeds – there are so many more benefits just as you have mentioned xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      Blogging and reciprocal commenting functions in a similar sort of way to penpals doesn’t it? I used to think of it a bit like people going around and leaving their calling cards in those Georgette Heyer novels set in Bath. But it’s more than that, over time you do get a sense of the people behind the blogs and a feeling of community, though it can be fragile sometimes. If people just stop blogging it can be quite disconcerting as well. Wish I could send you seeds, but Customs & Excise take a dim view of such activities :(

  7. Lorraine Pullen

    Penpals have always been important to me, in fact in 3 weeks I am off for my annual visit to the USA to see my friend Diane, she became my penpal in 1975 we have been firm friends ever since, in fact I would say she is my oldest friend. We have grown up together. I hope that being involved in Seedy Penpals will once again introduce me to new friends and new plants that I may never have considered growing. So far the experience has been brilliant and I have made loads of new twitter friends. Long may it continue, already looking forward to the next exchange.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Lorraine, there is a lot of enthusiasm for this project going on, I know I am excited about it too! Thanks for visiting my blog and have a wonderful holiday with your friend :)

  8. timethief

    I love this coming together, Joanna. How exciting and heart warming it is to know about this circle of bloggers connecting.

    Back in the day, when I was an in ground gardener I was frequently exchanging letters and seeds packets back and forth in the mail with my cousins and aunties.

    I’ve never had a pen pal but I once exchanged letters regularly with a friend who moved to England. A decade later she was back and my letter writing has been spotty since then as I got a computer and of course, email.

    Best wishes to you and to your Seedy Penpals too.

    1. Joanna Post author

      It is fun now I have started, I was a bit anxious at first but very pleased I have joined in. I have sent a few seeds here and there and carried plantlets to family and friends in the past, but always to people I knew. Thanks for your kind thoughts Timethief and my best to you :)

  9. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Joanna I hope you post pictures when all these lovely seeds raise their heads in your garden. I love the idea behind having a seedy pen pal. Anything that connects people and also encourages peoples fingers to delve into dirt is a wonderful thing. (and like you said, embeds you in your life much more than a computer screen could ever do…)

    Grow little seeds, grow.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks darling, you know how awful I usually look in photos ! The secret is to ask someone to wink, just before you snap the shot ;)

  10. ray@garlicbuddha

    My wife writes to a man on death row in the US – as part of the lifelines charity. Causes some looks in the post office getting a letter franked to San Quentin! They have been corresponding for a couple of years – I think they both benefit from this unusual friendship.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Ray – friendships are formed in all sorts of places, sometimes the more unlikely, the more they make sense and have meaning, if that makes any sense?

  11. Sincerely, Emily

    oh what fun. It is neat to hear about the new friends you have made and the new seeds you were gifted with. I had a pen pal when I was young. A girl in Germany. It was always fun to get letters from abroad. I always enjoyed writing letters, somehow email is faster now, but I still take a moment from time to time to send off an actual letter. I love that. E

    1. Joanna Post author

      Wish I could send seeds to you, but DrF thinks that they get irraditated on the way in, so it is a no starter, but maybe you and he could start a program together?

  12. drfugawe

    I hope your ‘seedy’ program brings you great joy – looks like it is having a good start. I looked for something similar in the US, but all I could find were ‘seed saver’ programs (which would require me to devote some of my precious garden space to growing seeds – I need that space for growing eatables) BTW, it looks like my fall/winter garden is off to a great start – I’m looking forward to it.

    1. Joanna Post author

      You should get one started, maybe chat to Emily see the above comment. You could always email Carl or Mel and ask them how they went about doing it. Yes grow eatables, what’s in your fall garden Doc? I love your garden posts :)

  13. Jan

    I love the quote at the beginning it smacks of Edward Lear and I love your seed box and its envelopes, it’s like a little treasure chest. The little seeds growing towards the light are a lovely expression of tentative friendships plus it’s just such a worthwhile thing to be doing. Great to see a photo of you Joanna – I immediately went to the bathroom mirror and winked (daft wee creature that I am) but I still knew it was me:)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Go on send me a photo of you just after you have winked ;) I won’t put it on the blog I promise.

      Treasure chest sums it up perfectly

      and here is the song on You Tube in case you don’t know it… xx

  14. Promenade Claire

    You described so well the “terror” feeling, what to send, will it be ok ! I also know what you mean about joining in, I’m usually crap at that and tend to avoid it like the plague, but somehow this one was a no-brainer, I get to meet a new bunch of people, share some gardening geeky tips and away we go :) Happy Gardening !

    1. Joanna Post author

      Happy Gardening to you too! Feel the fear and send the seeds anyway, that’s what I did. It’s a bit like someone making a recipe you have written up and wondering if it will work ok for them, I always heave a huge sigh of relief if it does. I worry that ‘my’ seeds won’t germinate, though if the ones I have been sent don’t, I will naturally blame myself. Not quite rational but never mind :)

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