Friday, 15 August 2008


Happy Mouffetard did a post on July 30th about her family and their gardening habits which was gloriously illustrated with three generations-worth of vintage photos, showing how she came to be the dahlia-loving gal she is today. Then, I found Julia's posts about her grandpa, and what he'd think of her brilliant efforts to make a Mesozoic Garden (chronicled at We're Going to Need a Bigger Pot). It made me want to go and have a hunt for photos of my family in the garden. 

So to start with, here's me and my mum in my grandad's garden in Stanmore. As you can see my grandad had a strong sense of enjoying himself in a garden, and this was the first of a series of swimming pool/summer house combos. 

He was a great gardener, too, though, and my grandma and grandad eventually moved to Oxfordshire where he had his own allotment-sized veg garden, at home. I sadly don't have any photos of him in the garden, but one of my earliest memories is going through the drawer at their house looking at all the seed packets and catalogues, and then being allowed to pick something to grow. I picked ornamental gourds (yes, ridiculous garish taste even back then). My grandad and me sowed them, and then he grew them for me in his greenhouse. 

Me exhibiting early the gene, inherited from both maternal grandfather and my own father, which codes for ride-on lawnmowing

"I think we'll put the white garden over there."

Things I wish I had photos of, but don't:

  • those gourds!
  • the first plants I ever grew on my own, some russell lupins. We had very, very chalky soil, I don't know whether this is how they managed to avoid being ravaged by slugs. I remember them being stunning and I wish I had a photo.
  • All the miniature gardens my sister and me made for various August bank holiday shows in my grandma and grandad's village.
  • Being on the Roseland in Cornwall in spring and seeing treeferns and rhododendrons and primroses all growing in the same place, and thinking it was the coolest thing. 

Trying to inflict it on the younger generation. Me and the boy Joe T in Tresco Abbey Gardens c.1996, learning to love palm trees. He is creeping up on me to stroke the silky bit on the edge of my skirt, which I seem to recall was a great favourite in them days. My mum took the photo and we were all absolutely soaking wet, but I had just fallen in love with echiums and didn't notice. 

And lastly here's my personal favourite:

My mum is holding my sister, I'm on the grass with our friend Johanna. But that blurry figure in the background is actually my dad, exhibiting a hilarious lifelong passion for mowing the lawn on a tractor. Which may go to prove that gardening really is the new rock'n'roll.


Arabella Sock said...

I was also moved by Happymouffetard's post about family gardeners. I think I will blog about my own families garden habits sometime. One of my main memories is being given my own patch of the garden about 3ft square out of the side of the lawn. I grew marigolds, radishes and mesembryanthemums. I still love the latter and the Bedsock calls them "happy flowers" because they are so cheerful when they open up to the sun.

emmat said...

Someone had made a garden with them in Hampton Court this year though, and they were pretty unhappy as I recall! In fact i think it was send a cow, your favourites.

I have just added a picture of me and my brother when he was a tiny little chimp and not a big boy who has just been to Ibiza and got his a level results.

HappyMouffetard said...

Ah bless! Lovely photos.

And there is a soft side to the sock...

VP said...

Lovely. Our garden was an overgrown mess when I was at home, so I don't have such heritage to draw upon :(

However, when I went to uni to study agricultural and environmental science (a very controversial pairing at the time) it inspired my dad to not only start gardening, but to found Birmingham Organic Gardeners as well. So I suppose it was innately there all the time - I just didn't get the benefit of it!

JamesA-S said...

These are great pictures: absolutely love your mum's high waisted baggies. (She also looks particularly gorgeous in the 1970s florals - as, of course, do you dear). I will have to look around to see if I can find any heritage garden pictures.

emmat said...

I am quite enamoured of my NASA spacesuit / blonde hair combination, back in the days when moon landings were still in fashion