I love my garden. The plants. The butterflies. The smells. The colours.  The bees. Not the wasps or the snails -or slugs. 

I was asked recently where my interest started. There’s no doubt at all. My parents. 

They loved their garden. Took enormous pride in the front borders. Like me a bit of a show off. The back garden was nice. But the colour and the effort went into the front – that’s what people saw and there was always a bit of a competition with Den & Blem next door. Neighbours for over 50 years,  each year they planted the borders to out do each other. Never mentioned. Never admitted. But always there. 

Clearing out Dads things we came across some photos from the 80’s and 90’s of the garden. In the 70 s the garden beds along the front path were filled with roses. Beautiful.Tea roses. floribunda roses.  Healthy and colourful. I recall names like Superstar. Iceberg. Ena Harkness. Vermillion red. White. The roses were their pride and joy. Majority  bought in Woolworths in Cardiff. 

In the early days there were no large garden centres or the dismal area in a B & Q where there always seems to be a drought. In those days Woolworths had an excellent gardening department. Row after row of seeds. Gardening utensils. Plants. 

Disease came to the roses and they were taken out never to return. The same fate for Woolworth in later years.  Gone. But not forgotten.  There is an interesting history of gardening and Woolworth 

Woolworths horticulture
So instead of roses Dad grew his own bedding plants. I had begged for a greenhouse to grow tomatoes and cucumbers. He relented and for a few years until I moved out I tended them religiously. He never allowed me to forget that he bought the greenhouse for me to  use but within a space of a few short years I had moved out. As you do. Leaving him with a greenhouse he hadn’t wanted. 

He failed to mention the bedding plants. The fact that without ‘my’ greenhouse he would have had to buy the plants. Still in competition  with next door he returned to growing plants from seed. But didn’t admit  that he was enjoying it. The sowing. The endless pricking out. The planting. Him and mum up to their necks in seed trays. But he did. She did. Especially when passing neighbours and friends complemented them on their ‘display’ 

The beds now became full of annuals. Grown by dad. Encouraged by mum. The awful smelling tagetes. Petunia. Busy Lizzie.  Lobelia. Alyssum. The staples of the 70s and 80s. But they were colourful, bountiful and easy. Hanging baskets aside the door like sentries on guard duty. 

We came across these photos when we were sifting  through dad’s  possessions A poignant  reminder of those days. Now the house has been sold and Mum amd Dad both gone. 


At the back of the house was the greenhouse. Bedding plants in spring. Tomatoes and cucumbers later. My job each year was to dig the bean trench. Always in the same place. Always the same length.  Only beans. Never peas. Always ached  liked hell the day after. . Now I don’t bother to dig a trench  but every time I plant those beans I get a voice in my head. ‘You’d do better with a trench son’ . Thanks dad but I’m doing ok without! Maybe next year. 

So the simple answer to a simple question  is:- my parents. 

With dad on the front  door step

10 thoughts on “Gardening. Woolies and me. 

  1. Thanks brother for the trip down memory lane, or Doyle Avenue to be exact. Can see where we get our enjoyment of gardening. Or in my case pottering around. Talking of different floral scents reminds me. My box smells terrible.

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  2. What a fantastic tribute to nan and gramps. He taught me how to grow from seed how to germinate and end endless other things. We all have something that we can carry on tradition x

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  3. Seems we both need to thank Lorraine P – you for your new (whenever) raised beds and me for the introduction to your blog. I “retired very early” 9 years ago. Then I didn’t, then I did again 3 years ago. The first six months are the easy bit. You make plans; you keep saying “next year” as you wallow in your new-found abundance of time to do things. Then you suddenly wake up. And you’ll be busier than you were in work. There’s no “going home” break time. You’ll wake up, be out in the garden before you know it, and dig through the pain barrier until you suddenly realise it’s time for bed! Who needs food?

    And thanks for triggering the memories of Woolies. In my case it was the Canton branch that stole my pocket money each week in return for some seeds or some little plants and, occasionally, some of those hot salted peanuts next to the pick-n-mix.

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  4. Lovely, reminds me of my Granny and her front borders, a riot of colour & the bean trench, none of this crop rotation nonsense! How sad about the roses, I have iceberg and bet there was Silver Jubilee too, which I also inherited in this garden.

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  5. Love the pictures. My parents inspired my love of gardening too and I’m lucky enough to still garden with my dad from time to time. My Granny taught me about the countryside, foraging in the Welsh mountains and cooking fresh produce even though she had a concrete back yard smaller than her kitchen as my grandpa was emphatically not a gardener! ☺

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