Gardening from the beginning

Gardening from the beginning

By Mark Darlington


‘ve been going back over my gardening life recently. How and when I started, and the ups and downs along the way.

When I was young, we didn’t have a garden in our 2 bed terraced, just a yard. Gardening was a thing that never entered my imagination. Unknown to me at the time, my mum had been growing when her and dad lived with my grandmother before buying their first home.

The first garden I saw that was ours, was when I was 10 and we moved house.

I was amazed. Not only did we have a new area that was so much bigger than our yard, but we actually had grass. A lawn all to ourselves. My mum started to make plans once we were in about what she was going to grow, and I asked for a small part of the garden to grow veg in.

This became my first ever veg plot. It was great fun for years. I was basically allowed to grow whatever I wanted, and it wasn’t always successful but I just loved doing it. Mum showed me the ropes and taught me the process from seed to harvest. For a good few years, we were growing veg and flowers and we had a good mix of everything. Then as I got into my teenage years, I lost interest.

I couldn’t be bothered with it any more. It became something that I just didn’t want to do any more. I’d still do the maintenance work like mowing the lawn and cutting the hedges, but none of the enjoyable part of gardening. Very occasionally, I’d help with planting out flowers, but I’d lost the bug.

I didn’t really kick back into it until I bought my first house, then I got back into it full throttle. I turned a border over to produce and the rest of the space to flowers. I went a bit nuts for the first couple of years and grew so much produce, that we don’t actually like, and ended up giving most of it away.

As each of my girls became old enough, they both started wanting to sow seeds and plant out with me, which was fantastic as it encouraged me to carry it on.

Then I hit another wall. I’d long had issues with my garden. I kept changing things around and I could never quite get it how I wanted it. The end result was I neglected it and let the borders get over run, the grass died and basically let it become a complete mess. I’m embarrassed to say it stayed this way for a lot longer than it should as I had no idea what I wanted to do with it.

Eventually I got sick of not being able to use the garden as I wanted to and set about sorting it. As I tidied I set about doing it in sections so it didn’t become overwhelming. As I was doing it, I realised that I was enjoying being out there and getting dirty, and it was doing wonders for my MH. I also knew that I wanted to be growing again. It wasn’t anything too dramatic at first, just little bits here and there for the spaces as I created them. The more I sorted, the more I wanted to grow. Even as I thought I was getting on top of it, I’d change my plans and start an area all over again.

There’s a couple of changes to make this year but now it’s all tweaking to make the garden a nicer place. I’ve been back growing for a number of years and I’ve never been happier to be out there. I have many moments when it becomes a chore and I find I need to sit back and not force it. I always want to go back out eventually, and feel the benefit much more this way.

As I’ve kicked in again, my mum has started to grow more and more from seed. When she lost her gardening buddy, she started to buy most of her plants from garden centres, or supermarkets and DIY stores.

It’s great that we both grow different plants and always end up sharing lots that we have over. We can lose so much time when we are at each others houses talking all things plants and gardening. Looking at how each others gardens are coming along through the year and enjoying the changes. It’s like having two gardens. We do tend to turn into the family bores when we get into each others gardens, to the point we’re just left to it as our family know we’ll come in when we’re ready.

  • I’ll always be grateful to my parents for that initial start to my gardening life, and yes I’ve fell out of love with it more than once but when it’s in your blood it’s a hard habit to break.


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