To tell you something of the story behind the series of posts I am writing at the moment (during the famous 2020 lockdown) about plants and gardens –
(if you click on ‘gardens’ in ‘categories’ you will find all the Garden Notes – )
I began gardening in the 1970’s at Laurieston Hall, a commune in south west Scotland. The first things I learnt about were composting and weeds.
For about twenty years I worked in private gardens in north London. There I learnt about flowers and shrubs and what other people want.
For ten years I worked for St Mungo’s, the charity for homeless people, in their gardening project, Putting Down Roots. I still work – though not at the moment – in one of our old places, St John’s churchyard in Waterloo. There I learnt, and am still learning about the two kinds of community garden, that of plants and that of people, and how they connect.
And I have my own garden, which is open sometimes under the National Garden Scheme. I had a date for the end of May this year, but now I hope maybe to open in the autumn instead. There is always cake, and plants for sale.
Thirdly, when I retired from St Mungo’s in 2012 I started working part-time again at G., more of an estate than a garden, in the green belt on the edge of London. With my old apprentice, friend and partner Jamie and quite a few others we began to rip out, reform, lay out, plant and prune about twenty years ago, he carried on full-time with the freedom to indulge his love of plants when I went to St Mungo’s, glad to be out of business, and now it often feels as if I’m the apprentice.
I feel very lucky to be connected with these three gardens, all in the same city but with different soils, micro-climates and communities, (in both senses.)
I’ve walked in the Alps and in the Himalayas (I would love to brave the leeches and see the monsoon flora but I think I’m too old and no longer tough enough.) In the last few years I’ve fallen in love with the mountains of Greece. They talk about ‘the trip of a lifetime’, but I always want another one. And another spring.
All of this informs my Garden Notes, and you’ll find posts about Greece, the Alps – oh, and Scotland! – if you use the menu.