Sunday, 1 February 2015

Gardening prowess

The love of gardening, and achievements of design, implementation, or just caring for an individual plant does bring a wonderful richness to one's life.  Of course, not everyone has yet to find this out!

At Uncle Noel's remembrance service, his love for his garden was clear.  There was even a picture of him looking as pleased as punch in his garden, on the front of the Order of Service.

On a table at the front of the church, his spade and a swede freshly dug from the garden had pride of place, as well as his hat, his camera, his darts cup and a couple more items.

Aunty Ruth brought out her tablet and showed us pictures of her wonderful garden, and I had no hesitation of letting her know, that in my experience of being Chairman of Kenilworth in Bloom, now 'retired', had she been here, she would definitely have won Gold, and most probably the cup.  Other aunts and uncles have been great gardeners, and I have some lovely plants from Colin and Doreen's garden.  It so nice to have these mementos, one of my favourite from them being the Lilly of the valley.  Of course in the Old Days Grandad's gardening was mainly to provide vegetables and fruit for his large family.

As the eldest cousin, Pat came to the rostrum and gave a heart felt tribute on behalf of his many nephews and nieces, quoting from a couple of letters my mother had written to her father in which she mentioned him, Uncle Noel, back in 1993.  Uncle Noel and Mum used to exchange all their gardening news.  I knew they sent each other photographs, her Chinese Urn had plenty of Uncle Noel's little photographs which he used to include in his air letters.  I am sure that when I took this one, she told me to make sure to send one of her with the tomatoes to Uncle Noel.

Pat very kindly gave me the two letters, and as I read them, some old pictures in my little box flashed into mind.  I've scanned them in, and can now use them on line.  Now we post on blogs like these, and add pictures and notes on facebook for family and friends to share in and comment on.

Mum had just cut two whole stalks of bananas, and mentioned the mango trees,

and that she had 20,000 Amarylis are just some of them, at least she knew it would be impossible for Uncle Noel to beat that, but it would equally have been impossible for her to grow swedes, parsnips, plums etc like him

I had bought an amaryllis, but I ought to call it Hippeastrum bulb, for my grand daughter for Christmas and gave her a call to see it was getting on.  A friend of mine is posting about Amaryllis on facebook, and another on her blog, so I had been thinking of adding it to my repertoire to give winter colour in the conservatory next year.  Now I think I should definitely send off for some bulbs next autumn.

My parents grew 'house plants' in the garden, or in shade houses

Of course they made it a business, but even as Mum wound down, everything in the home garden was kept up to scratch, with the help of one or two of her long serving gardeners.

Early on, the old garden was set out as a formal rose garden, with the majestic Corps de Garde Mountain in the background.  This was taken in October 1963, or at least the picture was printed then.  Dad used to get up to work for a couple of hours in the cool of the morning, before going to work, and then again in the evening, and at weekends.  Once he retired it was full time in the garden.

Each of us girls were given an area as soon as we wanted one.  I remember Jenny loved pansies and the small plants were bought from growers on the higher plateau, I was taught very early on to graft roses, and prune.  We were never coaxed into working, but just dabbled, and through this continued my life long enjoyment of hands on gardening.

I had my party piece very early on, where I could identify different plants and weeds just as I was starting to talk.  Later on I used to search for weeds in the garden to feed the rabbit or chicken which lived in a hutch, and were really were being reared for the 'pot'.  One of their favourite weeds was purslane, I did not realise then the english name nor how good it was as a salad!  The hen and rabbit grew well on it.


  1. What super stories of your Uncle Noel and your gardening heritage. I feel as though I've just met this most interesting chap and I think we could have quite a conversation about Lincolnshire Yellow Bellies and other such topics ;-) How lovely to think his family paid him such a tribute - as befits a fine fellow like him.
    My sympathies on the loss of such a treasured family member. I am still trying to imagine 20,000 amaryllis bulbs.

    1. The Vicar said that in all his years in the parish, he had never officiated at such service.

      Lincolnshire Yellow Bellies is a new one on me, and I shall be sure to learn more when I visit there in the summer.

      Yes 20,000, no extra zeros. My parents had a 'home garden', a garden with the 'old house', and several more acres a little way away. They would have been planted in long rows. The flowers sold to bring in an income.