You may already be familiar with Steve Woodward’s previous posts on our blog. He is also a member of our customer trial panel, here is his profile…

Customer trial panel member profile - Steve Woodward

Collecting some produce for a warming stew

Hi, I am Steve and I live in the East Midlands Derbyshire town of Ilkeston, roughly equal in distance between the cities of Nottingham and Derby, which can make it very interesting when they play each other in the league!

I have just about completed my second garden, the first one was started when I bought a house after getting married in 1977. It was a very long thin area of back garden with a small front garden, both areas were very untidy as the previous occupants were not interested in gardening at all. The front was simple to sort with a slabbed centre bordered by various shrubs such as hostas and peonies with one small tree of prunus amanogawa, the tall narrow Japanese flowering cherry. This always looks spectacular from late April to late May when it’s full of beautiful pink blossom.

The back garden was split in to 3 areas, the first being a lawn area with perennial flower borders, which led on to a fruit garden, then a greenhouse and finally a decent sized vegetable garden. Then we moved!

Customer trial panel member profile - Steve Woodward

The new house as it was

We decided to move around 10 years ago and bought a house only about 2 miles away. It had belonged to an elderly lady who had the gardens made by relatives for low maintenance – a couple of slabbed areas and membrane with pebbles over it covering the rest. This was brilliant for me, a blank canvas! And from then up until now I have been gradually filling it with various favourite perennials – hostas, ferns and a few of the more jungly exotic plants that I have a passion for. I started off with a 6’ x 6’ greenhouse to use for tomatoes and cucumbers, then at a later date for a special birthday family chipped in to buy another 6’ x 6’ greenhouse. I took the back off one and the front off the other, joined them together to make one 12’ x 6’ greenhouse and used the spare aluminium parts and glass to make a large cold frame, bonus! I also have a love of chilli varieties, which I grow each year in the greenhouse.

Customer trial panel member profile - Steve Woodward

And as it is now

Customer trial panel member profile - Steve Woodward

Selection of chillis from last year

As specimen plants dotted around I have a few trachycarpus palms, I have tried a few palms but find this to be the only truly hardy palm in the UK (for my area anyway). A few bamboos, olive and bay trees, 4 types of gunnera, musa basjoo a couple of variegated fatsia japonicas, a fig tree and a good collection of acers.

For around 15 years now I have cultivated a variety of vegetables in a full sized allotment. This is fortunately only across the road from where I work as a warehouse manager, which means on the rare occasion when we have had a really hot dry spell I can pop over the road and give everything a good watering. Plus It was very easy to take spare pallets over to make my compost heap and it also makes an ideal space for comparing new veg varieties along side regular marker types to assess the results for the Thompson & Morgan trials.

Customer trial panel member profile - Steve Woodward

A compost bin made of old pallets

I have taken and passed the RHS level II exam in Horticulture and passed a course in herbalism. I also co-run the Garden Friends online gardening forum. Peter Seabrook has been a great inspiration. I am a definite sun lover and am at home sitting in the garden on a warm sunny day with a cup of tea and a gardening crossword, could just do with a few more of those sunny days!

Just a follow up to one of last years trials…

Here is a picture of the patio rhubarb crowns that were sent out to test as patio plants. It is pictured in one of your patio bags showing the succulent red stems that anyone without a garden or someone with a balcony at flats even could grow and get one of their daily 5.

Customer Trial Member Profile - Steve Woodward

Patio rhubarb

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