My parents both loved to garden although my mother had less time to indulge busy as she was running their village stores and off licence. My father was twenty years older than my mother. As I grew up – the youngest of four, he was by then semi-retired. His main jobs in the business were newspaper man, stocking up and serving on occasion in the off licence and all the general maintenance in and around the property. This left plenty of time for looking after us younger children.
School holidays and weekends I was often to be found pottering outside in the garden with my father. Sweet Peas and Snapdragons were his favourite, not for him the tricky latin names – Lathyrus odoratus and Antirrhinum respectively, I was encouraged to learn throughout my horticultural training and working.
His way to garden was a relaxed romantic style, plants billowing over the edges every bit of earth planted, in contrast my Mothers preferred style was and still is of controlled formality. Shrubs are kept small and regularly shaped, only plants that behave in an orderly fashion are allowed to stay, Hydrangeas rule. Flopping is never allowed only bare earth between, devoid of all weeds and in autumn every last leaf!
However when it came to propagation my mother ruled. Not for her following rigid instructions, she was an opportunist. Cuttings, seeds, seedlings, the latter stuck in anyhow and any where grew strong healthy and productive, indeed her tomatoes were of show quality. My father on the other hand following meticulous instruction from his trusty Readers Digest ‘The Gardening Year’ could only look on in despair as his carefully tended plants never quite showed the same promise or yield.
I like to think both their styles and techniques have been instrumental in shaping the type of gardener I am today. My personal gardening style follows more my fathers relaxed approach, my own borders billow and undulate in an unruly fashion, that is on the surface…… Behind the scenes though I do exercise some of my mothers ‘crowd control’, thinning the thugs to allow the weaker plants to shine through.
My everyday work in Design and maintenance of gardens requires me to adopt both my parents approaches this manifests itself in design styles as Contemporary, Country, Formal, Informal and more besides. Because of them I am able to shift easily between different styles respecting my clients individual tastes.
A few of my clients are new gardeners tentative, unsure where to start, many are elderly and have great knowledge and technique but not the strength to work as hard. I hope to teach and inspire the learners as my elders continue to teach and inspire me.
Our gardens like us gardeners are all different and we like our gardens have to adapt to new and sometimes harsh challenges throughout the ever changing cycle of life.