I recently read an article in a gardening magazine which described 1960s gardens as grim.
Being born in the mid-fifties, my childhood was lived in the '60s and I remember gardens with a great deal of pleasure and I don't agree with the author.
My father was a keen gardener despite having been brought up in a one-up-one-down terrace with no garden whatsoever. His own father, son of a farmer, had been a jobbing gardener all his life in addition to his day job of railway porter. I helped with weeding and my favourite weekend of the year was Easter when my dad would be in the garden all weekend planting potatoes and sowing vegetable seed in the back garden which was given over to fruit and vegetables. There was also a small greenhouse in which he grew tomatoes; this had pipes running round with a tiny solid fuel boiler which I think was fed with coal at night. I have never seen another such system other than in large country estates. One of my most powerful childhood memories is of entering the greenhouse in the sun and being on a narrow earth path surrounded by tomato plants covered in ripe fruit; sadly my greenhouse never smells so good. My brother and I also had our own small plot where we grew annuals.
Our front garden was given over to Dahlias in a multitude of bright colours which I loved; I have no memory of what was there when those in-your-face flowers were not. There were also, planted by the house wall, two mop head Hydrangeas one blue and one pink. I remember dad putting colourant on one to make it blue. In the early sixties the Dahlias were banished for ever and roses were planted throughout the front garden with the front and back walls of the house having the beautiful climbing rose 'New Dawn' trained over. Naturally, I now have that rose and others I remember including 'Peace' in our garden.
When my father died my grandfather naturally took over tending our garden until my grandmother had a stroke when he became her sole carer. It then fell to my mother to garden and, being from a gardening family, she was a natural. Everything she touched grew and it seemed sad she had never before been allowed to do more than the occasional weeding. She sourced her plants and potting compost largely from Woolworths and made her own compost at home. In the summer months we had what seemed like an endless supply of fruit and vegetables. I vividly remember the summer of '69 as being the year of the strawberry when we were picking about a stone (6kg) a day for three weeks. This was a problem in the days before freezers as my mother was unable to source enough jam jars and we children were struggling to eat strawberries for every meal including breakfast! I remember my little brother and I being sent out with punnets of strawberries to all the elderly people my mother knew; my mother was a good woman, the extent of which we only discovered at her funeral. Eventually her garden won a garden competition and she was so pleased and deservedly so.
Of my three siblings, one has a degree in horticulture and another is a keen gardener and flower arranger. My teenage son was once overheard telling his sister that there was no point fighting gardening as she was destined to be one because it was in her genes; that is certainly true as my other half also comes from a family of keen gardeners.
Liz Moyses,Membership secretary,
Please contact me for further details of membership which costs only £5 per family per year.
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