Yes, that does seem like a strange statement from someone who runs a Garden Centre. However, after working 8am-6pm around plants, you sometimes get home and just want to have a sit down with a nice cup of tea.
Lockdown and restrictions we have all faced over the last year and a half has changed that for me though. Yes, I am still busy, but life seemed to slow and whilst other activities remained restricted, my garden became my solace.
I think with lockdowns, especially the Winter one, it added such an uncertainty to daily life, and as humans who like routine, it can cause in some cases stress and anxiety.
So, I decided on a project to give me some purpose. I was lucky in that I was able to continue working to some extent but my garden no longer felt like an effort, it became my escapism.
What did I want to achieve? I would always recommend having a rough idea on what your end goal is. With gardening your end goal could be years in the making or it could be that it bears fruition in the same year. You don’t have to stick to it religiously, but it helps keep things going if there is a rough plan.
I wanted to grow vegetables but on a small scale that also incorporated flowers to help promote the wildlife in my garden. The small scale was due to the fact I did not want to overwhelm myself. Yes, I had more time, but I knew that as lockdowns eased, the busy day-to-day life would resume, and the garden needed to reflect this.
As a family, we like to think of ourselves as foodies and enjoy the idea of growing our own, not only is it delicious but it helps us reduce our carbon footprint and it is something that the whole family can partake in. That is unless you are Ellie, my two-year-old Great-Niece who just seemed to like removing the plants!
I had the perfect spot, right outside my kitchen which is a little sun trap. I found some old plastic trays which I lined with membrane, to allow for good drainage. I then simply filled them, and they were ready to go. I did add wood cladding, but this was purely for aesthetics.
In them I grew some of my favourites, broad beans, carrots, lettuce, spring onions and seed potatoes. Not all have been a success, the lettuce seems to have struggled slightly with the late cold spell we had. Next year I will simply grow a different variety which is all part of the learning process. Even with 45 years in the industry, you can still learn, gardens are unique things. What works in one garden might fail in another.
I also added wigwams to grow some wildflowers and sweet peas which I have used as cut flowers. After growing sweet peas for numerous years, I have always felt that the centre of the wigwams looks bare. So, this year, pulling on my love of wildflowers which are abundant on walks around North Wales, I planted some cow parsley and chamomile along with some poppies for that pop of colour. Cow parsley makes a lovely addition to cut flowers and adds height to my wigwams. Ensure when growing your sweet peas that you cut the side shoots which you need to do around once a week, this helps promote the growth.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with my efforts. Now after work, I make my cup of tea (normally accompanied by a biscuit) and sit peacefully enjoying the fruits of my labour. The wildlife love it and the joy of using what I have grown in my cooking is one of life’s simple pleasures.
You often hear that gardening is good for the soul and I could not agree more. Whether you are a professional or an amateur, have a large garden or a small terrace, you can find something to grow. You will look after it, nurture it and then enjoy the results. Your garden evolves, it never stays the same but that is one of the great wonders of them. Happy Gardening everyone!
Snowdonia Nurseries and Garden Centre