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.
What a thought provoking post. I always remember helping my Dad take plants and cuttings from my Great Grandma's garden after she passed away and they were selling her house, she had a great garden full of flowers. My Grandad grew veg, lots of it and he always seemed to have a shed full of onions!ReplyDelete
Thank you Pam glad you enjoyed reading. Onions - I remember them hanging in the shed at home usually in an old stocking, also the smell of cooking and pickling beetroot:)Delete
What a lovely idea for a blog post. I so enjoyed reading about your family gardens. I remember my paternal grandfather's garden so well. He had a big back garden and the first part of that and also the front garden were always full of annuals in the summer. He had a pond with painted gnomes and behind that a greenhouse where he grew tomatoes - whenever I smell tomatoes on the vine I remember that greenhouse. The top half of the garden was used for growing vegetables.ReplyDelete
My parents' garden was lovely but smaller. Like you I remember playing with friend and teddy bears on the front lawn. Dad also had a lovely display of annuals and in later years he grew dahlias. The back garden beyond the lawn and flower beds had a rose garden and behind that a big rockery with a golden chain tree. Dad got an allotment when he retired and he and mum were always freezing vegetables, pickling things and making jams! His other passion was making rather delicious but potent country wines from foraged flowers and berries!
I do enjoy National Trust Gardens - Hidcote is probably my favourite but the walled and kitchen gardens at Packwood and dahlia bed at Baddesley come a close second and third. The gardens we visited recently at Hampton Court Castle were rather good and I loved visiting the Morville Dower House garden after reading the book!
Thank you RR. Glad you enjoyed the post. It's wondeful how smells and colours bring back memories of visiting grandparents and other relatives and playing in their gardens, memories of the garden's layout and how huge they seemed when we were children. I saw Hidcote on a programme about NT properties a few nights ago. I've never been and I'd love to visit. The garden at Morville Dower House is wonderful, I'd love to visit it again one day:)Delete
What an interesting post. We had many different gardens as a child as we moved several times, but my grandfather was my biggest influence & I remember in late winter we'd plant all sorts of annuals around his roses in the front garden. His yard was small, but he had a lovely veg bed full of different things & a small lean-to type of thing against a very small garage where he kept gardening tools, pots, seed packets & all manner other odds & ends. I loved poking around in there. I also had a great aunt out of Sydney a bit, where we went occasionally & she had a large fernery & it was gorgeous & always fascinated me. In my childhood gardens, my job was doing all the weeding, which I do now too, but still don't like much. For gardens I've visited the small garden at York Gate would be amongst my favourites. Thanks for sharing, take care, stay safe & huggles.ReplyDelete
Thank you Susan, glad you enjoyed the post. Your grandfather sounds to have been a great gardener and a good person to learn from. Your Aunt's fernery sounds wonderful. Weeding and hedge clipping always seemed to be passsed on to us as we got older:)Delete
An interesting post that has made me think back to my childhood days. We lived with my maternal grandparents for several years so that garden and the layout is clear in my mind. It was a big garden front and back. Chickens were kept in the yard by the back door and there was a vegetable patch. I remember the raspberry bushes and strawberries growing there, picking and enjoying them. I liked the rockery and the front garden with standard roses and large statue with a bowl and a figure of Peter Pan. My other Grandma's garden was also big and long with hazel trees at the end. It seemed an adventure to go to the bottom of the garden and play there. Trees are an important feature in any garden that we've had although we're limited by space in our present garden. My favourite type of garden is an old walled garden. Thank you for sharing your garden memories.ReplyDelete
Thank you Linda both gardens you describe sound wonderful, yes trees, even small ones, add so much to a garden. There is a lovely old walled garden not far from here that we love to visit although not at the moment, I think it has just opened again. My maternal gradparents kept chickens too:)Delete
Such a lovely post and certainly one to get the memories working. I can picture my gran now with a small knife digging out dandelions in her lawn, a daily chore if I recall. Also her enormous gooseberry bush where I would gorge myself with sweet ripe gooseberries :) B xReplyDelete
Thank you Barbara, it is very comforting to look back at gardens we remember from childhood and from visiting. I love gooseberries, one of my favourite fruits:)Delete
A lovely post Rosie, made extra enjoyable by the comments already posted, with more to follow I'm sure. Being the runner bean boy and man you refer to, like my sister Roz, Susan and I have Japanese Anemones in our garden too. Then their are bluebells, another constant in my life, but runner beans come first. We had them for lunch yesterday and always with fish, never meat, or beetroot snd melted cheese on top (my grandfather's favourite), steamed until they squeak (literally). Heaven on a plate.ReplyDelete
Thank you Robert, well you started all this after coming across the article which was such a lovely read. I hope you have had some interesting feedback from the people you sent the link to. It's fascinating reading everyone's thoughts and memories and what gardens have meant to them. Ah yes, bluebells, when all this is over we must visit Strelly Woods again before HS2 takes it:( Thanks for such inspiration for gardening, reading and writing:)Delete
Another lovely post, Rosie. My husband's grandmother was a very keen gardener and shortly after we were married she gave us a cutting from her weigela. That was more than thirty years ago and we (and the bees) are very fond of that shrub. When we moved into the house there was a large lilac in the garden, already more than twenty years old, and we took it out fifteen years ago. I don't think my daughter has forgiven me yet and she has planted several lilacs in her garden. xReplyDelete
Thank you Mrs T. Lovely memories. Lilacs are pretty but can get unruly. The one at the top of our front garden near the gate used to overhang onto the pavement outside where people waited for the hourly bus that ran through the village. Weigelas are lovely too how wonderful to still have it in your garden:)Delete
Such a lovely post and so thought provoking. My memories of childhood are of my maternal grandparents having an orchard and the fun we had running around the trees. My favourite was the plum tree which my Nanny used to make the most amazing plum jam and pies. So nice to be reminded of a bygone age.ReplyDelete
Thank you MM. I love an orchard, there was an elderly aunt in our little village who had an orchard and we were allowed to pick windfalls and take home baskets of fruit for Mum and Dad, she also made wonderful jam:)Delete
When my father died I took over the garden and Mum asked me to keep it like Dad had it. I didn't really know what I was doing but from time to time it felt as though Dad was at my side telling me what to do; I suppose I was just recalling things I'd heard him say dozens of times during his lifetime, but it was an odd experience even so.ReplyDelete
Thank you John. I expect if you hadn't done something your father usually did in the garden your Mum would have known so you must have done things his way:)Delete
It's good to think back to all those special gardens from the past and it's sometimes surprising when you see a plant or smell its perfume and you are taken straight back through time. I remember the snapdragons of my Grandmother's garden and the hydrangeas in my Aunt's which seemed so huge at the time. My Dad's garden was pristine and full of fruit and cuttings from things he'd found on his walks. For gardens I've visited, West Green and Greys Court are two of my favourites. 😊ReplyDelete
Thank you Karen. Flowers do conjure up special memories as do scents in the garden. We always used to make the snapdragons open, as children it used to make us laugh:)Delete
We had a relatively big garden at the house where I grew up and many of my childhood memories revolve around here. We used to spend every possible moment outside and had both flowers and fruit trees and the most beautiful vine that gave us enough grapes to feed a village.ReplyDelete
Thank you Amalia. Your childhood garden sounds idyllic, how wonderful:)Delete
Good night, how are you? I'm from Rio and looking for new followers for my blog. And I will follow yours with pleasure. New friends are also welcome, no matter the distance.ReplyDelete
Hello, thank you for visiting:)Delete
A lovely post Rosie. I have lots of family memories connected to the garden. My Grandad loved to grow Roses and had a peach tree that he was proud of. My Nan was always pottering about her garden and often gave my Mum a bunch of cut flowers from the garden when we visited. When my Nan died quite a few years ago I bought a rose named compassion to remember her by. Sadly the rose died but I am reminded of her and my Grandad whenever I smell roses. xReplyDelete
Thank you Simone. Lovely memories, it's sad that the rose died but there are always roses around to evoke those memories:}Delete