Over at the Standingoutinmyfield blog, the author has posted some “Photos from a hardwood floor“, and contrasted the satisfaction to be derived from a project such as (in this case) laying a new floor in her home (and great it looks too!) with the dissatisfaction that life as a scientist can bring. Don’t get me wrong, I think I have the best job in the world, but I agree with her that there has to be more than science in the life of a scientist.
It’s probably not widely realised amongst non-academics, but failure and rejection are MUCH more common than success and acceptance in our professional lives.
Rejection rates for most journals are greater than 50%, and frequently as high as 80% to 90%; success rates for large grants are typically lower than 20%. In the past seven months I’ve had one grant application and five papers rejected. It can be very disheartening, which is why I have to have more in my life than just science.
Of course there’s the teaching and admin that is a vital part of my job, but, like Standingoutinmyfield, other projects are important. So Karin and I have spent part of the summer refurbishing an old summer house at the back of the garden (on-going) and renovating and planting our front garden (almost done). As the latter project involves plants that are good nectar and pollen sources for pollinators, I thought I’d post some photographs:
The original front wall – built in the late 1980s/early 1990s I think, and not at all in character with the late Victorian house.
The garden itself was paved and concreted over:
Demolition in progress! While I supervise…..:
We salvaged what bricks we could, for other projects, and the rubble was taken to the local recycling centre to be used as hardcore.
It’s amazing where plants will grow:
The site is almost cleared, ready for a local semi-retired bricklayer (with 56 years of experience!) to build us a new wall using similar bricks to those of the house:
And here it is:
The soil in the front garden was very poor, varying from solid clay to builder’s rubble, so needed a lot of peat-free compost and sharp sand to improve it. But finally we were ready to plant it up:
The garden is south facing so we had to choose plants that would do well in a hot, dry summer (not that we have many of those at the moment….). It will take a year or two for them to get established and knit into a full display. The plants are a mixture of pollen- and nectar-sources for pollinators plus things we just like – here’s the full list:
A small scrambling rose Rosa “Warm Welcome” – a beautiful, unusual colour, a very nice scent, and appropriate name for the front garden!
Lavender “Hidcote” – planted as a low hedge along the full length – even as we were putting in the plants, worker Buff-Tailed Bumblebees were visiting the flowers.
Plectranthus argentatus – not hardy here but a lovely foliage plant, fast growing, and with flowers that bees like. I’ll take cuttings in the autumn to keep it going.
Wisteria – this is quite a large plant that was a birthday present for Karin. But I’ve lost the variety name so will have to try to track it down.
A fig – Ficus “Panache” – because we like figs. The roots have been constrained in a sunken container to encourage the plant to produce more fruit and less growth.
A self-sown privet (probably Ligustrum vulgare) that was already in the front garden; we allow it to flower (rather than treating it as a hedge) as the bees love it and the black fruit can be eaten by birds.
Potentilla “Gibson’s Scarlet and “Jean Jabber” – deep red and vivid orange, respectively.
Achillea “Fanal” – also deep red and favoured by hoverflies.
Salvia nemorosa “Caradonna” – beautiful, intense purple.
Curry plant (Helichrysum italicum) because we love the smell and hoverflies love the flowers.
Japanese Anemone x hybrida “Honorine Jobert” – pure white and late flowering.
A perennial sunflower Helianthus “Lemon Queen” – likewise a late flowering hit with the pollinators.
Lamb’s Ear – Stachys byzantina – particularly favoured by the Wool-carder bee Anthidium manicatum.
There will be more to come in the near future. Meanwhile, here’s a before-and-after shot: