I grew up in Devon and my father was a very keen gardener. He decided that the children would each have a garden plot but being very reluctant to allocate any ground that would be of any value my sister and I each got a plot under a huge maple tree. We did try but as you can imagine it was a hopeless task and the seeds that were planted with lots of hope never did very much in spite of the fact that the soil and growing conditions in that part of Devon were the very best. The rest of the garden was lovely, though. I do not think my love of gardening was improved by being given rather dreary gardening jobs to do such as weeding the raspberries. I am sure my memory enhances the agony but as I remember it the weeds were endless, the ground hard and the task never ending.
The next garden was a school plot which I had when I was 8 and the next year as well. I shared it with a friend who finished up being President of the Nova Scotia Rhododendron Society so I suppose we both basically had gardening in our genes. I do not know who suggested planting poppies but the first year our garden was a mass of colour and we were proud to win first prize. Those were the days when children were graded for everything. There were certainly no rewards for just trying!! The next year we won as well but there was really no satisfaction in that as all that had happened was that the poppies had self seeded vigorously and we had done a bit of sporadic weeding near judging day. I suspect that the interest of most of the gardeners had waned considerably. We had to tend our gardens in the lunch hour so had to be quite enthusiastic to work at all.
My gardening life came to a halt after that until we arrived in Vancouver and rented a house with a garden on 10 hundred block Keith in West Van. It was an older house with a huge Rhododendron in the front yard which is still there. I would not say we were enthusiastic gardeners and I really did nothing much having two very small children at the time, but we grew some great runner beans and enjoyed having outdoor space. The next house which we owned for a short time had a very overgrown garden and we did a major clean up including trying to cope with a Horseweed infestation. We did enjoy the outdoor space and the baby of the time used to sleep outside the kitchen. On waking she enjoyed seeing the leaves of the trees overhead blow about.
We have been in our present house nearly 50 years and in the last 25 or so the garden has been a real joy to me. Somehow as soon as I go outside my mood lifts. My usual trouble is not seeing a number of things that I need to do out there and spending far too long on a task that was supposed to take a minute or two. We have been lucky enough to firstly be strong and young and able to do some fairly major landscaping (that is taking credit when none is due as far as I am concerned as I did virtually nothing). In our very busy years when the family was growing up, we just kept things neat and tidy and grew a few vegetables but since then I have become very enthusiastic with the result that today we have extensive planting and much more landscaping. It really came about when I became a little kinder to myself and decided that gardens were not a competition and all that was required was to give joy to those living in the house and perhaps some pleasure to those visiting. It sometimes seems as if the force is against one when the squirrels dig up the bulbs and the aphids infest the Kale. The whole experience has a humbling element as in a single year not everything does well (rotten peas this year!!!) and perfection is never possible.
I have just come back from a few days away and these are some of the garden highlights that caught my eye.