Tuesday 18 January 2011

Garden Gurus

For a long time I could not imagine being a gardener. Even though I spent hours with my Grandad on the veg patch and learning about the true art of the hanging basket and even longer with my mum who clears borders with gusto, has given me all my very best plants and creates the most inspiring, vibrant displays; I could not fathom for one second why Gardener's World was such a must see event.

How times change. Around the time I went to university it dawned on me that gardening is a "please yourself" state of mind. I'd been under the misconception that to be a "proper gardener" you needed to be an expert in all areas and it truly overwhelmed me - don't ask me why but it did.
It was mum I think who put me right and since then I have been true addict. From the tiny scrappy border and various pots at my first flat, to the allotment and family garden I have now, the joy of sowing, planting, digging, looking after and enjoying our garden is a pleasure that grows every year.

Gardening is now something that I just can't not do. The path of my year is marked by the flowers and veg in the garden and I've certainly learnt to pick and choose what I do. I couldn't care less about the state of my lawn and exotic plants don't do much for me but cottage garden varieties and keeping colour going through the year really interests me and I've got more addicted to making compost as the years have gone on.
This year my aim is to grow much more from seed myself, so for pocket money prices I hope to have many more annuals than usual and start off more of our own veg.

Over the years more garden gurus have inspired me too. First Mr Beardshaw - or maybe his eyes I'm not completely sure, then Mr Pearson and his poetic, ambitious style. And Alys F is now a firm favourite as well, I love her city garden that's so full of joy and the way she writes about it with such easy going charm.
Then there's my American friend who, despite only living here for five years, knows more than I ever will about veg growing in our climate and what's good when. We all got together at the weekend to share a hearty lunch on a dreary, chilly day, Dan and I talked seeds and crop rotation and I came home with bags of seed gleaned from his allotment that will add such colour and flavour to our patch this year.
And of course there is Carol, the ever smiling Carol Klein who inspires me by being such a very ordinary gardener, who finds joy in the elemental magic of planting a seed and watching it grow. Her new series on BBC 2 (in the Gardener's World slot on Friday nights) has me spellbound. I had a look at the book to accompany the series in the week and it is a beauty I long to own and share her year in the garden. Maybe one day soon I will and then my garden might just look like this.
("September" by Angela Barret from The Gardener's Almanac)
Who are your gardening gurus? Happy gardening.


Sandra said...

I'm looking forward to seeing how your garden grows through the year. I too grow lots of what I call the pretties from seed, my only downside is the pricking out .. I want to give them all a chance.

busybusybeejay said...

We had a very big garden but when we retired we wanted to go away more and so sold some of it.I do regret it,my OH not.We still grow a few veg and I have great plans for doing some alterations this year.One thing I do love doing is collecting my own seed from the garden,nothing better.

Sarah said...

What a lovely and inspiring post! I too have to garden! It feeds the soul! I have sat down and worked out what we are going to grow in our small veg bed this year and have had a bit of a potter in my greenhouse. I think that seed catalogues are a great read this time of year and I enjoy making a list of the seeds and plants that I will order in the next month or so. My gardening guru has got to be 'Alan Titchmarsh'. I LOVE HIM!

Garden Girl said...

Ahh, I am a big fan of Alys too-I do hope she hasn't disappeared from our screens and that she will be back soon. I find her so inspiring, and I guess part of the attraction is that she is a similar age to me, her house and garden are similiar to ours (although obviously i am talking size of garden-mine is a wreck in comparison!) and she doesn't live far from here. All of that combined somehow makes her seem more human! Gardeners on the telly always seem like such lovely nice NORMAL people, what you see is what you get.
I am a big Monty fan too. I love his calming manner and do miss my friday nights on the sofa with him!
We are still eating our enormous butternut squash that we greew in the summer! it's done three meals so far and we are still only halfway through....x

Lynn said...

Good news for Garden Girl as Monty Don is returning to Gardeners World soon - personally I am gutted as I loved Alys & Toby who he is replacing. I loved Geoff Hamilton too - but then that is showing my age :)

Unknown said...

It is curious how gardening creeps up on one, slowly slowly until you cannot imagine life without it - just the same for me. Dan and Alys - two of my favourites, although for growing flowers for cutting Sarah Raven is The One!! Look forward to seeing your garden grow.

Anonymous said...

I'm missing my allotment having read your post. I gave it up last year due to lack of time, but still love gardening at home - it's amazing what you can grow veg in! Have you read Through the Garden Gate by Susan Hill? The illustrations are by Angela Barrett and it is almost as lovely as Through the Kitchen Window.
My faves are Carol Klein, Monty Don and I loved Geoff Hamilton. Really not keen on Toby Buckland so I'm looking forward to Monty's return!
Happy gardening,
Cathy X

Karen said...

I had exactly the same attitude to gardening as you Steph although I spent my childhood helping my parents with their large garden. I find Alys and Carol inspiring and have learnt to grow the things we like and as we want our garden to be mainly for wildlife which we love to watch and photograph we don't like it too tidy.
Growing more vegetables is our aim this year. Its going to be fun to follow your progress. Karen X

caravanartist said...

Up until last year we grew lots of fruit and veg which we sold in our farm shop which is now closed although we will still sell soft fruit and some veg in the summer. The farm (and the garden) are inspected and certified organic by the Soil Association. I love this time of year, going through seed catalogues and planning. We grow all our veg and flowers from seed and over the years, the gardening writers I keep going back to are Joy Larkom (unbeatable for salad crops and other veg), Christopher Lloyd - much missed and such a wonderful writer, John Soper, Lawrence D Hills and the book I've had by my side since the 1980's is The Holistic Gardener by Margaret Elphinstone and Julia Langley. I love it and refer to it time and time again. I'm not sure if it's still available (Thorsons published it) but it's certainly worth trying to track it down. I don't have TV but am a regular listener to Gardeners' Question Time and I think Bob Flowerdew is excellent. I have a few of his books and would particularly recommend his fruit book which I've found very useful over the years. Sorry to have gone on a bit but I love (and collect) gardening books and am a very happy gardener and I can really relate to the enormous enthusiasm just pouring out of your post. Let's hope for a happy and productive gardening year.

Gill said...

I'm a real newbie when it comes to gardening-only got bitten properly by the bug last year watching Alys. So I sent off for free seeds from the BBC Dig In campaign and although I could only manage a few carrots I felt so proud of myself!! I love reading Susan Hill's Magic Apple Tree and Through The Kitchen Window and imagining a life like hers. Or Carol Kleins. I taped the first 2 episodes and watched them today. I now want her books (more to the wishlist!)I don't know what we'll manage this year as we've moved and this house(private rent) is all gravelled so pots are the way forward me thinks?

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post. I too am a keen gardener and have a wee 2 hour gardening job a week, which I love. This year will be hard as we will move house but even still, come the spring, seeds will be sown and crops planted and who knows, maybe a groaning veg patch will be a selling point?

Tea with Prudence said...

What beautiful post!

I too used to think you had to be an expert to garden, now Ive realised, that you become an expert by just doing it and learning along the way.

I dont really have a gardening guru as such, but I do have a few of Hugh whats-his-names River cottage DVDs which I watch over and over.


Bobo Bun said...

I loved reading about your passion Steph. Always apparent from the pictures I've seen of your lovely garden. How I wish I could garden. I know exactly how I'd like my garden to look, but somehow never put in the time or have had the skill to know plants. I really admire anyone who can make a garden bloom all year through.


Anonymous said...

I've always loved gardening since, well, I was knee-high to a greenfly. Geoff Hamilton is my all-time favourite, and of course Carol is a joy and inspiration to us all (and she has two arficial hips!)

Anja said...

No gurus yet, as we live in an apartment in the big city. But I hope that one day I will have a small garden filled with strawberries, peas, lilacs, hydrangeas, redcurrants, tulips...

loveandlilac said...

I like Carol's passion for gardening and am relieved Monty is back this year, but for gardening guru's I would have to pick the late Christopher Lloyd who wrote about gardening in Country Life and who owned the wonderful Great Dixter, my favourite garden in the UK. Mind you I'm always inspired by those lovely gardens I visit in local open garden days and the imagination and dedication that is hidden behind the ordinary garden gate.

bellaboo said...

If you want to be happy for an hour-get drunk,
If you want to be happy for three days-get married,
If you want to be happy forever-make a garden.

Chinese Proverb

Look forward to seeing how your garden grows,and maybe getting a few tips! :0)

Ruth said...

My grandpa was the gardener in our family - he had an amazingly huge garden that was both beautiful and productive. My favourite childhood memories from Scotland are eating raspberries in the garden and also the honeycomb from his bees.

I love gardening too - it is very therapeutic. I have a neglected patch surrounded by leylandii which I am trying to turn into a cottage garden. It's fun trying anyway!

Anonymous said...

Carol is my veggie growing guru, every time i'm in the garden and having a fustrating or lost moment I hear her calming voice in my head. Another favourite of mine is Alice Fowler.

sarah-jane down the lane said...

Sarah Raven.... I adore her approach to flowers and veg. Her garden in East Sussex is the holy grail for me, as it is "real". I know she has filmed a wildflower series and I cant wait for it to be shown.
I am a huge fan of Alys too, as much for her personal style as for her garden!
Happy planting and planning Steph,

Love Sarah x

LinenandRoses said...

A very inspiring post. I am longing to get out in the garden this year. Being pregnant during the Spring and Summer last year I did nothing in the garden for fear of toxoplasmosis(even with gloves I was still nervous) and had to watch as hubbie did what he could but on top of working and doing a lot of the house work for me, he didn't give it quite the love it needed. So I'm longing to get out there clearing and planting. Like you I have a Mum who is so fantastic in the garden and she has always inspired me although I'm not sure I'm up to her standards really. Look forward to reading what you do with your garden and allotment this year.

James. said...

Bang on, and reading this post has made me itch to get out and start digging pruning and clearing away. I cant wait to get some seeds in the dirt and long for the first veg..Happy gardening

Reginas Cottage said...

hi steph
i love gardening, too.
i am a big fan of monty don and alys.
i wish you wonderful days in your garden,hugs regina

Trixie@ the vintage bothy said...

I loved gardeners world since Geoff Hamilton was on it, my favourite is Carol, she is that little bit eccentric which is always ok by me. I dabble with gardening and have had a beautiful allotment in an orchard by a mill pond, however I had to give it up as I couldn't keep up with it. It is on my Mum's property so we are going to put it back to grass. I will have a few pots and windowsill plants this year, but as i have a part time job in a plant nursery I won't go without. My Mum has a beautiful English cottage & rose garden where we take tea every afternoon in the Summer.
Vintage brocanting & gardens, what a life!

Jane and Chris said...

My gardening guru is my Dad. I used to help him in his allotment (growing up in England). He seemed to be able to grow anything, and had a vast amount of knowledge. Hubby and me are now in Canada where the growing season is short, so gardening is fast and furious, then nothing from October to May. It takes some getting used to!
Jane x


Hi, I was a professional gardener for over five years ,I specialised in topiary gardens and at one point looked after 20 gardens ,including a wonderful 2 acre walled garden, but due to illness had to give it up as the hard pysical work was tto much.... but still some of the happiest years of my wotking life,I can find total peace working with plants and earth,bliss..I ADMIRE very much Monty don, in fact i am a devote, glad when he will be back on our screens, love the illustations of Angels Barrett, have the same book as you, have you got through the garden gate by Susan Hill ,illustrated also by Angel Barret? love your post, cant wait for spring, if you look back through my posts , i did one on my garden,take a look, bestest wisges,Linda.

Funkymonkey said...

There are so many gardeners I admire but I would probably choose Alys, Carol, Monty and Dan Pearson. All lovely, calm, people. Perhaps that comes as a result of a lot of gardening?


Madelief said...

What a lovely post! I am a great fan of Carol Klein as well. Just bought her latest book that goes with her new tv serial on Amazon. It's a joy to read!

Lieve groet & happy weekend!


Rowan said...

I can't imagine not gardening, it's one of the pleasures of my life. I, too, am enjoying Carol Klein's wonderful series, it needs to be 12 one hour programmes though not the quart in a pint pot that the BBC have
givven us. Could I ask where the wonderful illustrations from the Gardener's Almanac came from? I've googled hoping for a book I could buy but haven't come up with anything.

Attic24 said...

ohhhhh Sarah Raven without a doubt, I love what she does with colour and food, veggies and flowers, she is such an inspiration. Gosh I hyperventilate over her catalogue. Haven't heard of Alys Fowler, off to google her now!
ps happy pre-spring dreaming Steph! ♥

silverpebble said...

I adore Carol Klein - she's so passionate and makes it all seem so accessible. My urge to garden grows every year too - my current obsession is watching annuals self seed. Last year my first cow parsley hopped into the garden from the nearby Devil's Dyke. I was thrilled! Have you ever grown cerinthes? They fantastic at having babies and are so beautiful!

I still have absolutely loads to learn (and I'm ashamed to say my compost was like plasticine last year - what was I doing wrong?) but I don't think I'll ever lose the gardening bug now.

Niki Jackson said...

I'm really loving the new Carol Klein series as well, so inspiring and I too love that she is always so happy. Just came across your blog, it's beautiful x