From an early age lots of people have influenced my gardening. My grandfathers were both keen gardeners, my neighbours when I was a child and also my mother. I have to clarify this by saying that I think even my mother would admit she was not the world’s keenest gardener, but she likes her garden to look nice and has always cared about its appearance.

I, a child through the 1960s and 70s, remember spending a lot of time in the garden.  My brothers and I spent a lot of time outside, mainly playing football and cricket (I still hate cricket) playing with space hoppers, Action Men and I also remember having a Tippy Tumbles doll. My memories of our first garden are vague, but I remember the roses that I fell into and still bear the scars of. I remember also the standard roses particularly one called Peace that my mother was very proud of and I think there was one called Princess Elizabeth that was pink. I remember also the driveway and the day we had the drive tarmacked. This was a very modern thing to do and my parents were very proud of the black gooey smelly stuff with its white pebbles dotted around in it.

Every Spring my mother liked to have a hanging basket, it would be lovingly looked after all year until the frosts killed it. My mother would also supervise the annual planting of the front garden. Invariably this would involve blue lobelia and white alyssum planted alternatively up the drive. Some years there were rows of tagetes or some years there would be lipstick pink geraniums (in those days everyone called them geraniums but they are also known as pelargoniums).

My mother tried to take cuttings of the geraniums, rooting powder would be bought and plant pots of dying cuttings would line the windowsills. It was clearly an impossible task. I was amazed by this as surely plants only came from the garden centre. The thought of making new ones from existing plants seemed incredible and I still think getting a cutting to take is a magical thing.

Gardening like my mother taught me

Lobelia erinus ‘Blue Wings’

Last year I grew some alyssum by accident, they were part of an annual mix I sowed and I was charmed by the plants. They lasted for months; indeed some have got through the winter and are flowering still. I looked at them and remembered gardens past and thought it was time to revive this style of planting. I decided to grow a 1960s garden. Well, I say garden, I mean a patch of border.

Gardening like my mother taught meI am lucky to be a member of the Thompson & Morgan plant trial panel so when I got the catalogue to choose from this year I quickly ordered some blue lobelia and white alyssum and waited for the time to sow.

They are now duly sown and starting to germinate. This is very exciting for me and I am looking forward to taking this project forward.

This is one stage one, there is much to do and I am excited about how this project will develop. I will keep you informed as to progress.

Alison Levey

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