'That Reminds Me' - Gardens & Gardening

Having access to a garden has come to be looked upon as a very real bonus during the lockdown situation.  It’s as if someone was out to prove the therapeutic value of gardens and gardening!

This is the time of year, of course, when we might look forward to getting out and visiting gardens other than our own.  But with many a big garden show or local fete on hold, not everyone is going to get their usual seasonal horticultural hit.

So instead, what’s to stop us taking a nostalgic trip up along the garden path of the past, carefully picking some memories as we go?

Let’s start with the first growing space you remember.  It might be your own garden, or one you associate with a best friend, or another member of your family – a grandparent perhaps?

What makes it stand out in your mind?  Does it bring to mind any particular flower or tree? Were there fruit or vegetables? Perhaps you can remember particular pets or livestock like chickens or rabbits being there? Did it have somewhere to play?  A garden often features as the background to old family photographs, so these might help to bring more memories into focus, – of people, parties and pets as well as plants.

 

If you were (or still are) a keen gardener yourself, where was that spark first ignited? You might have been given your own little patch of garden to tend when you were a child, or perhaps you had a school garden. What about any early window-sill successes (e.g. mustard and cress?  Of course, you may not have had any kind of garden at all when you were growing up.  Did you make up for it later?

A rummage through some old gardening tools might stir further memories of how it feels to garden, even for someone who isn’t able to do so much of it any more.  Well-used implements often seem to preserve the feel of a previous user in their smoothed handles.

If your love of gardening lies more with the vegetable patch than the flower borders, can you recall any bumper crops, or super-sized produce like marrows or pumpkins?  Perhaps you won prizes?

Gardens are as susceptible as anything else to changing fads and fashions (and environmental conditions of course). So have a think about plants and flowers you associate with childhood that you don’t see so much now (mine would include wallflowers and phlox).

Think about colours. Is it the brighter the better when it comes to flowers beds and borders, so far as you are concerned? Or are you someone that likes a bit of careful design, or a particular colour combination? Not forgetting the (at least!) 50 shades of green.  Don’t ignore the vegetable patch! As well as the pretty flowers on squashes and beans, there are tastes to remember, like nibbling raw peas from their shells. 

Don’t forget scents and smells!  A few sprigs of rosemary may not only conjure up a delicious memory of roast lamb, some people will have rinsed their hair with it, or used it in water to wash the windows. Lavender is similarly evocative. Are there other fragrances that you associate with certain times of the year, or with particular places? Newly-mown grass is a smell that most people can readily identify, whether they associate it most clearly with a garden, a park or sports field.

Think too about garden wildlife, from butterflies, bees and other insects (pests included) to the birds. Whether it is a cheeky robin perched on your spade handle, hoping to find a tasty morsel or the greedy fat pigeon eyeing up your newly planted rows of vegetables.

 If you feel like going further, include in your journey any of the memorable gardens you have visited – in this country or beyond, like Botanic gardens or gardens attached to historic houses. 

YOUR CHALLENGE (Should you choose to accept it…)

For fun, see if you can make a list of some of your favourite, or best remembered garden-related things, using the categories below.  Share and compare your lists with friends and family members, or send them to us and we will share them with a wider audience. 

You can start with as many entries under each heading as you want, but, a bit like “Desert Island Discs” try to whittle it down to just one. Add your final list of favourites to your personal scrapbook or memory box. There is nothing to stop you returning and making additional lists – one for each season perhaps?

  • Gardening Book (Practical manual or a work of fiction)
  • Garden to visit
  • Gardener (Celebrity or otherwise)
  • Flower
  • Painting or other Work of Art
  • Garden bird
  • Surprise (Something you weren’t expecting to see or happen in a garden)
  • Something you wish you had grown (But haven’t yet)

YOUR (other) CHALLENGE this week is to “grow and show” something on your window sill. We would also welcome pictures – along with any other garden pictures or stories you’d like to share.
Scroll down to see the photos members have sent us so far!

My example:

Book: “The Morville Hours” by Katharine Swift

Garden to Visit: Kew Gardens

Gardener:  My father (who actually worked as a gardener, and briefly became a celebrity of sorts when he appeared on” Gardeners’ World” with Peter Seabrook)

Flower: Pansy

Painting: The Artist’s Garden (at Giverny) by Claude Monet

Bird: Black cap warbler (for its song)

Garden Surprise: A Muntjac deer invaded our (suburban) garden, stayed overnight, munched some flowers and seriously unnerved the cat. However, the prize in our street goes to the neighbour who, some years ago now, encountered a large escaped wallaby!

Thing I’ve never grown (but keep hoping to):  A Magnolia tree

If you need some new plants and flowers for your garden, why not order them from us?! We’re now offering online plant orders and home delivery from our nursery at Chantry Walled Garden. Simply ead over to our catalogue via the button below to see what we have available, and then fill out an order form and email it over!

‘GARDENS & GARDENING’ QUIZ

  1. Whose garden grew with silver bells and cockle shells?

  2. With the “kiss of the sun for pardon” and “the song of the birds for mirth” what are you nearer to in a garden than anywhere else on earth, according to poet and hymn writer Dorothy Frances Gurney?

  3. Who asked “How many kinds of sweet flowers grow in an English Country Garden?”  
  4. Who wrote “The Secret Garden”?

  5. What article of clothing was adopted by the first professional lady gardeners wear that made them target for attention (and derision) at Kew Gardens?

  6. Who was invited into the garden, after the “black bat, Night” had flown? An extra point for knowing which poet wrote the words later incorporated into song.

  7. Who or what is traditionally banned from the Chelsea Flower Show (the exception was Centenary   year in 2013, when they allowed in some “celebrity” versions)?

If you have anything you’d like to share with us, and are happy for us to post onto this page, and our social media pages – please email them over to sam@activlives.org.uk.

We’d love to hear from you, and make this a fun community activity with loads of people taking part and sharing their stories, photos, comics – and anything else!

Answers to last weeks quiz:

  • Hot pants first appeared on the fashion scene in the 1960s
  • Falling off your platform shoes was a very real health risk in the early Worn with bell bottom trousers they helped to elevate the “leg” to new and disproportionate heights.
  • Padded shoulders migrated from men’s tailoring to women’s clothing in the 1930s and 1940s, but they took on a new look and significance in the 1980s.
  • The mullet hairstyle enjoyed its biggest wave of popularity in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Immortalised by the likes of Rab C Nesbit and Andy Capp, the string vest was originally designed by a Norwegian soldier, inspired by two fishing nets. Promising the wearer a unique combination of warmth and ventilation, they started to become hugely popular in the 1950s.
  • Held responsible for doing all sorts of damage, to flooring as well as feet, stiletto heels first found mass favour in the 1950s and early
  • Designed just after WW2, the two piece bathing suit named after the Bikini Atoll (where atomic weapons continued to be tested) gained notoriety (and went on getting smaller) throughout  the 1950s .The song “Itsy Bitsy, Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”, performed by Brian Hyland, was released in 1960.

    Here are some photos sent to us from members of their beautiful gardens, with one of them saying “my garden is one of things that has given me purpose over lockdown, as with animals, they need looking after!”

    One member even caught a cute little muntjac exploring their garden on a security camera!

    …and here are some photos of our CEO Julie’s garden!

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