Last week a friend sent me an e-mail entitled 'How familial are our gardens?' This was in response to an article he had read in The Observer by the writer and author Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett. It is a lovely piece which describes how her garden has helped her through love and loss. I have put a link to the article on her name above.
In the article she describes the various gardens, owned by grandparents, aunts and uncles that have influenced her from childhood up to the present. Of gardening over the last few months when many of us lucky enough to have our own gardens have found peace and solace there away from all the daily happenings.
My friend has a photo of himself taken when he was a small child in front of the runner beans in his grandfather's garden. He has grown runner beans in the garden of almost every home he has owned since then. His sister also remembers their family garden being full of Japanese Anemones which she now grows in her own garden.
I was looking back at what I remembered about the gardens I knew as a child. I remember the gardens of both sets of grandparents. The Shamrocks under the front window of my paternal grandmother's house, the London Pride and Hollyhocks in my maternal grandmother's garden. I have London Pride and Hollyhocks at present in the garden but no Shamrock I must try and rectify that. The Hollyhocks came from seed gathered at the home of Paul's brother's partner and this is the first year they havee grown sucessfully in this garden. Their sight is made poignant by th fact that we lost Paul's brother four years ago.
For years, everytime we moved we took with us a Fuchsia that came from my Uncle Wilf's allotment. We always took cuttings each year incase the original plant was lost. This happened one winter when we forgot to bring it into the house from the greenhouse. The cuttings went on for ages until last year we forgot to take cuttings and the last plant died. I have happy memories of visiting cousins and running down the gennels (ginnel, jitty or alleyway, it depends which part of the country you come from) in between the blocks of terraced houses, across the road, down by the railway line to Uncle's allotment where he grew vegetables, Chrysanthemums and Dahlias as well as Fuchsias.
Our own garden at home was my playground. The front lawn where memories of summers spent with mother's clothes horse covered with a blanket as a tent, with friends coming to play, with bears and dolls having picnics. Also of buckets and spades brought back from the seaside being used to dig soil, add water, make blocks and leave to dry. We called it making mud pies.
This lawn was surrounded by narrow beds on four sides. At the top near the gate was a lilac tree. Other flowers I remember in that garden are dark red Peonies - I have some in this garden - Snapdragons and Red Hot Pokers. The back garden was entered through an arch in a high hedge by the back door. This area streched quite a way and was always full of vegetables in rows and also gooseberry bushes, raspberry canes, strawberries and rhubarb. We have lots of these plants in our present garden.
I wonder what your memories are of family gardens? I expect we all carry our memories into our present gardens, if we are lucky enough to have them, whether it be in layout or planting patterns or the growing of favourite plants or flowers.
Do you also have a favourite garden? One you have visited several times and that holds happy memories? Below is one of my favourites, Plas Brondanw, Llanfrothen, Gwynedd, Wales.