Joy Gough has just joined our blogging team of customer trial members and talks about her gardening experiences.
My name is Joy, I am totally new to this blogging, so please bear with me, just like gardening it is a process of learning as you go.
Our garden started with 2 bought tomato plants, that was 30 years ago – now it has grown through trial and error to over half an acre of walled garden in the town centre, hidden behind an unassuming wrought iron gate in Chippenham, Wiltshire. We don’t suffer from flooding or any severe weather conditions, making gardening enjoyable, but sometimes hard work, keeping us fit.
The garden behind the house is where it all started, clearing undergrowth, rebuilding walls and replanting, mainly small evergreen shrubs to give it height and structure and a large lawn in the middle for cricket or football. Then the lawn was replaced with gravel beds planted with grasses, sedums, phlox and saxifragas, keeping everything low-maintenance and simple, finding out which plants thrive in our soil – loam over clay. I have various pots dotted around the back door for colour and scent. Once that part of the garden was established we tackled the end of the garden, this time putting up a greenhouse, coldframe, compost bins and water butts, planting a plum and a cherry tree and growing vegetables for our family. All this time watching the allotments next door getting overgrown and neglected.
Soon the greenhouse is full of seeds, cuttings and tender plants something I find very calming as some need watering, potting on or transplanting to their own pots.
Then in 2006 we had the opportunity to buy the allotments next door, now a 10 foot high area of brambles, elder trees, nettles and bindweed. Well, we knew a bit about gardening so why not try and extend the garden? As the allotments are 5 feet lower down we put steps in to link the gardens. In October 2006 in moved the JCBs and lorries, out went 140 tons of rubbish, all that was saved was one apple tree and a handful of snowdrops, also I managed to take cuttings from the 100 year old box hedge. So once again we started to rebuild the walls, plants were dug up and transplanted to the new garden, seeds were sown to grow on to keep the cost down.
Since then we have opened for The National Garden Scheme and the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust as the garden was created mainly for bees, butterflies and wildlife. This part of the garden is planted with low box borders with roses, echinaceas, phlox and clematis – plants that are nectar rich and flowering at different times. The rest is laid to lawns with rowan, magnolia, acers and Tibetan cherry planted in amongst the lawns. Portugese laurel hedges 5 feet tall create rooms within the garden. We also dug a pond for wildlife, I counted 13 newts last year. Seed heads are left on the plants through the winter for the birds, we try to be as organic as possible, letting nature work out the balance.
My husband cuts and edges all the lawns and plants the vegetable seeds. Any surplus fruit and vegetables is given to neighbours, who are always delighted. He also prunes and feeds the roses, then we meet somewhere in the garden for a cup of tea.
We have no training in doing this, so I was delighted to receive an award from Wiltshire Life Magazine in the Amateur Gardener of the Year section.
Thompson & Morgan invited me to trial plants for them in Spring 2011, which has been thoroughly enjoyable as I can do the reviews when it’s too dark to garden. It’s a win-win situation and also a new and exciting selection of plants of which I will be doing write ups when something to report.
Since I started this family and friends who have had no interest in gardening have redesigned their gardens, because they can see what can be done, so that’s positive!