Today we see the last SMYG of Season 1. I have enjoyed visiting my friends’ gardens, it has been an opportunity for me to discuss plants with them when it wouldn’t normally come up in conversation. It has also been interesting to visit gardens where there isn’t a green fingered person in charge, it has shown me that even though they might not be interested in growing plants or veg themselves, they do appreciate the importance and beauty of having a garden be it for wild life, for teaching or for respite.
Today I show you my garden. My first ever garden. Unfortunately, I will be leaving all this behind as we are moving in a few weeks due to work. While it does sadden me to leave this place, I feel a sense of closure. I started gardening as a response to stress; while I loved my job, the workload was such that I needed an outlet. Additionally, I could not switch off; I was constantly thinking and worrying about work. So gardening, unlike watching TV, kept my hands busy and my head leveled. I think it was E back in the first SMYG who said that gardening was an activity that forced us to dedicate our full attention. Now, I am looking forward to taking on a different challenge and start new projects. I am very excited!
1. How long have you had your garden?
One year almost to the T. We moved in on 1st August 2014 from living in a one bedroom ground-floor flat. Before then I was a lodger and Boyfriend lived in flats up in Newcastle. I never had a garden when I lived in Spain. To be honest, I never really showed much interest in gardening or plants. My Spanish grandmother had a balcony and she was great at growing flowers in pots. My English grandparents sparked my curiosity every now and then: my granddad would sit me in the kitchen and we would pop peas out of their pods, and my nan made cordial and jams. When my nan was getting too old to care for the garden properly, her sons (my dad and uncles) or the grandchildren would help her by trimming the hedge or mowing the lawn. However, I would say it was my father-in-law who got me truly interested; while living in the flat he gave us a plant. He promised it was easy to keep alive. Then, he gave me another, which was a bit more temperamental but still easy-going. Then he gave me 3 cuttings from a succulent he had pruned, all three survived.
2. Are you interested in your garden? What is its function?
It has been my laboratory. I have used it as place to see what I like, what goes with what, what veg I can grow, what I can’t. It has also been my way to release stress and relax from work. I have loved to sit at the top of the steps and look down on what I have achieved this year. I would have liked to have entertained more but it’s not very child friendly as it slopes down, perhaps in garden number 2.
3. Favourite plant.
It’s really hard to say! I have loved the strawberries I have been getting. I have loved my scented sweet peas. The perennials I am taking with me are the santolina (amazing fragrance), jasmine and the heather. I associate this last one with Shropshire,where my father’s family come from. Every time we visit we go for walks in The Long Mynd, where masses of purple heather grow. Since my nan passed away earlier this year, having heather in the garden is my way to stay connected to her heritage.
4. Something you have tried and failed at doing/growing.
Dahlias. I bought some tubers that haven’t produced any flowers. Then I bought two lovely plants and they have been demolished by slugs and snails. Perhaps I can keep them better when we move, I’m hoping to keep the slugs at bay!
5. Anything you would like to change?
Perhaps I would make the garden more level. I haven’t really been able to have groups of pots because a gust of wind would set them off balance. Had we lived here for longer I might have utilised the top of the garden better. The sun didn’t touch for long periods of time, so I couldn’t really grow any veg up there. Perhaps I would have built a small pond for wild life. By getting some frogs in my dahlia might have survived!
6. What is your inspiration?
I want an edible garden. I like to have veg and flowers growing together. I like the idea of companion planting. I have tried this year and succeeded in some things but failed at others. For example, I have seen a lot of white butterflies around and I have been growing kale for the guinea pigs. I can’t use netting because of the nature of an edible garden, so I just need to find the right plant that will deter the cabbage butterfly of doing too much damage. My carrots have grown well, as have my potatoes and spring onion. I also love vintage furniture in the garden, I like old farming tools and re-purposing old buckets and containers.
In terms of plants, I tend to stir away from exotic-looking plants. I really enjoy the English countryside, so dedicating a patch to flowers, many of them wildflowers, has been the highlight of my year.
7. Finish the sentence. You couldn’t tell from my garden but…
I haven’t spent an exorbitant amount of money on it. I have invested in tools and containers, this is true, but seeds are the way forward for veg and annuals!