I want to take you away from my allotment very briefly to show you a special place in my heart. Bessie and I took a small break to visit my parents for a couple of days, and my mums beloved garden at this time of year, is like a restorative sanctuary for me. I know it certainly is for her too, as a full time carer for my dad, it’s just large enough that she can escape briefly into it, albeit with an alarm that dad can call her on if he needs her. As kids we were forever asking ‘where’s mum?’, but of course we knew she was deep in the garden … somewhere!
There’s nothing posh or fancy about it, she’d (hopefully) agree with my description of ‘slightly ramshackle’ but in a wonderfully interesting and characterful way. I think ‘naturalistic’ is probably a kinder term that is banded about these days. Some people are horrified by it, they’d want to ‘tidy’ it all up, it’s just not their idea of a garden. Her own sister wonders how on earth (no pun intended) she manages it all. But I know from my own mini slice of this, that the more you pack in, the less weeds you get, and you just allow everything to self-seed, merge together, flow over the paths and run wild, with just a tad of ‘guidance’ here and there for the truly unruly. It’s way easier than my allotment! I think watering all of her pots and hanging baskets is the biggest task she has.
There are lots of places to sit and enjoy the view from various different angles. Including the grand pavilion (as we have jokingly named it) that dad lovingly made before his condition got too bad. Not that it stops him much still, you can just make out a spirit level propped up against the raised pond. That’ll be my dads little addition to the garden furniture. Not sure what he was levelling, there can’t be a single thing in the garden that’s level.
I don’t know if this ‘window’ is deliberate (mum will be nodding her head now, ‘oh yes, very, very deliberate!’) but it makes a nice frame to a view of the lawn area.
There’s a woodland path that weaves around the back of the borders. As children we loved this, as do the grandchildren now, and even my dog!
There are some lovely harmonious colour combinations …
… but she’s not one to be afraid of a little colour clash here and there too!
There are containers everywhere, and everything is a potential container.
If they recreated this garden for Chelsea (I can hear mum snort at that one), they would have to replicate the rusty wheelbarrow, leaning up against the compost heap, with the hosepipe wrapped around it. Likewise the old tools, randomly sitting on a tree-stump. It just wouldn’t be authentic without them, they are part of the fabric of the garden. Or something like that.
She has over 30 roses, and I dread to think how many clematis. And yet, if she somehow manages to find something to grow another clematis over, she’ll happily squeeze another one in.
There’s a foxglove, well over 10ft tall, trying to fight it’s way through the tree top!
These are 2 of my current favourite plants that are in flower (it changes on every visit). An annual Osteospermum (top picture) that she’s grown from seed. I’ll be taking some seed from that when it’s ready. And (bottom picture) a double flowered feverfew. The single variety grows readily in my garden and allotment, but I love this one.
This is mission control (aka her potting shed). It used to be my dads garden office when he worked from home. The roof was replaced with sheets of transparent plastic, and the inside fitted out with work benches and shelves and lots of hooks. In the winter, you literally can’t get in here as she keeps all of the tender potted plants tucked away safely from frosts, and in spring it’s full of seed trays and propagators.
Talking of which, there are seedlings and pots of baby plants on every possible surface. It’s not at all unusual to find a bucket with some baby plants hiding inside. Carol Klein has nothing on my mum when it comes to propagating, it’s like an addiction.
And this is my little harvest. In exchange for a bag of new potatoes, courgettes and garlic from the plot, I’ll be taking home some of her spare Knautia seedlings, some Californian Poppies (they self-seed all round her garden), a piece of the double feverfew that I like, and a small Pulmonaria. Ooh, a cuppa tea and a biscuit for free and who needs to visit an RHS garden?