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In The Beginning


By AndrewR


A question I have often been asked is “what started your interest in gardening”? Until I had my own house, I had no interest in gardening at all, and at first I only grew vegetables out of necessity, to save money. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of this postage stamp vegetable plot on which I cut my first horticultural teeth.

In 1979, I moved to a bigger house (and bigger garden), and began to take an interest in ‘pretty’ things (note the sacks of 6X garden feed – I still use this product!)

But fruit and veg were still very much to the fore. The variegated shrub in the centre of this picture was one of the few plants I inherited with the house. It was euonymus fortunei ‘Silver Queen’, and I fell in love with it. When I moved again five years later, I was determined to take it with me, although it didn’t want to go, and I broke two spades digging it out

Cue house number three – ‘Devonia’ (or ‘Branscombe’ as it was then called). This picture was taken about four years after I moved in, before any serious work was done on the front garden. I had managed to eradicate the bindweed supporting the front wall, the kerria forest under the kitchen window, and the mildewed rose by the back door. I think I had planted the first flower bed with roses and wallflowers, but the soil was not really suitable for either and they never flourished

Twenty years on, and the front looked like this

To the right of the front gate (seen from the road), was an overgrown area with a straggly young oak tree, an old Christmas tree with the bit between its teeth, a decrepit (and suckering) sumach, straggly hawthorns, pampas grass and brambles. The whole area was cleared, the neighbours planted a hedge, and I tentatively planted a border in front of it. The sumach continued to send up suckers (weed killer seemed to encourage it), the grass was lumpy and uneven, and the most prolific plants were the weeds in the tarmac drive

In 1998, the whole area was developed into a separate section, with a path leading to an octagon of paving. This area faces south and is very sheltered, and even the subsequent removal of the hedge by new neighbours, exposing it to easterly winds, has made little difference

In the back garden, I inherited a greenhouse, some rickety staging, and a potting bench. The potting bench eventually rotted, the staging was replaced by something more sturdy, but the greenhouse still stands. Around it are some of the plants and cuttings I brought from the previous house

Remember that euonymus? It lived like this for two weeks until a new spot was dug for it. I still have it plus a couple of ‘babies’, grown from cuttings

This is a view of the back garden. The extension already existed, but has since had patio doors installed. This area was mainly laid to grass, with two apple trees, six young leylandii on the boundary (which were removed in the first two weeks), and a eucalyptus gunnii (which I tried to move, and which promptly died).

This was probably taken about four years after moving in. I have added a border on the right, an upright yew, vinca, and pelargoniums on the left (the vinca was a big mistake, being much too vigorous), and you can just make out more bags of 6X under the old potting bench

Although the first things added were two compost bins (I have since added two more), with an area for soft fruit in the background. The surrounding fence blew down, and there is now a cage protecting the fruit

The biggest change probably occurred about fifteen years ago, with the addition of a patio and pond outside the back of the house

The pond has allowed me to grow moisture loving plants, and a pergola over the seating area is perfect for al fresco meals

Over the years I have put plants in, taken them out, or moved them to new homes. Some have died; others have thrived a little too lustily. I bought a section of the neighbour’s garden and planted an area of coloured foliage. Two years ago, I took out a flowering cherry I had planted over twenty years before, and created a bulb garden. Like me, the garden is getting older. I hope it is improving with age. And next year, like any other garden owned by a GOY member, it will be even better!

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What a transformation and what a good thing you were far sighted enough to take photos as you went along. I love Silver Queen as well - so cheerful and so tough! You have a great view from the bottom too. I couldn't see the yew though?

30 Dec, 2014


What a lovely blog Andrew.
What got me in to gardening was a packet of Virginia stock seed and a 6" strip of soil between the front path and the drive. I was 5. Thanks to my uncle Charlie. 50+ years ago.
This is my 3rd garden, biggest and the one I feel the most contended in.

30 Dec, 2014


I love your blog Andrew. Let your 2015 gardening year be very successful.

30 Dec, 2014


Gardening is in my blood. When I was very little I was always in the garden, and when I was about 8 yrs old my dad gave me my own patch where I grew anything and everything.

I follow my grandmother (dad's mother) ... she's the only one of my many relations who was remotely interested in plants.

31 Dec, 2014


It was a visit to Longwood Gardens which is a 1,077 acre botanical exhibit. What impressed me most and got me into gardening was that at the time I visited they had an exhibit on the small garden. The exhibit was in one of their conservatories and was about 20 by 15 ft. What an enchanted world it was, it impressed me greatly. I left there with a great desire to create a small garden world like that for my own.

2 Jan, 2015


I started to "garden" when I was still in school. Apartment living... all my plants were in pots on the windowsill! Loved gesneriads and started with streptocarpus and saintpaulia. When we had our first home (a condo) the "gardening" was done by an agency, but I managed to start a euonymous, some hollyhocks and a jungle of cherry tomatoes...and that as they say was IT! Been hooked ever since and everywhere I've lived I've started a garden. Only the last two were/are truly mine. I don't think I could be happy without one!

2 Jan, 2015

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