I started to write about the Urban Veg Patch in order to share the food growing progress of the original York Rise Growers. This blog has now evolved to be a space to share my gardening journey: photographs, thoughts, training, visits to gardens and garden shows, a few reviews, and sometimes recipes as I try out ways of cooking our harvests.
I hope you enjoy reading!
Want more? Then read on ...
I've always loved being outdoors, from tomboy adventures to being a knee-high garden botherer to both my grandfathers. A happy childhood spent exploring the Cornish and Dorset countryside on bikes with my siblings or, more exotically, the island in Florida where my family relocated for a short while when I was young. It was a free-spirited life marred only by the necessity of gaining an education.
Gardening is in my genes - both my grandfathers were brilliant amateur gardeners; one grew fruit, vegetables and roses in one of those massively long gardens that went down to a railway line in Surrey, the other grew lots of wonderfully exuberant flowers in his Twickenham garden. I loved it all, the digging, the watering, helping to pick and prepare veg. Such are the early influences that can govern future passions.
Sadly, it never occurred to me or my parents to think of horticulture as a career; as far as I was concerned, I just wanted to be an artist. And so I became a secretary. Painting and photography became hobbies that occasionally tipped over into work (I once body-painted an entire cast for a hair and beauty show in Leicester Square) until I rebelled and went to study for a degree in Graphic Design and Illustration at Central St Martins (now University of the Arts London).
Gardening came back into my life when I had my own windowsills in a little flat, and properly took hold in my first garden - a metre wide strip of bricks, sand and topsoil surrounding a ground floor flat. Rubble to oasis began to form a theme in my life.
Another decade passed and, finally, my gardening and design meshed when I trained for a Level 3 Diploma in Garden Design at Capel Manor in Enfield. I wanted to be able to name the plants and shrubs I was seeing in local front gardens. "Thank God It's Friday" signified immersing myself in soil and plant science, plant identification, Latin names, drawing boards, garden visits and history. Blissful days that now make me envious of young horticulturists who are starting out on their careers. If only Back to the Future was a reality!
And what about the writing, do I hear you ask? Well, I've always been told that I'm a direct descendant of John Stow who (very) famously published his Survey of London in 1598. My grandmother was a London Stow and proud of it; she wrote her own book about John Stow's daily life in her later years. And my gardening Granpa? He was a journalist for a local paper and his ancestors had been agricultural labourers. (My other gardening grandad was a master baker and patissier. Hence my love of baking bread and cakes, I guess.)
So now back to my own gardening ... the veg patch is where I grow plants that I like to cook with and a few 'wild cards' thrown in every year; the 'middle garden' is the small gated garden that I overlook and started to redesign in 2016 and 'the allotment' is where I help a local octogenarian keep the plot she and her husband worked for over 45 years. I also work part time as a professional gardener.
|Camden In Bloom 2016 - Me with the Mayor on a gloomy August day.|
(Yes, I am quite small!)