Hi, I’m Jane, happily retired and a hobby gardener.
I’ve always liked my garden to look nice, but I didn’t really have the time before I retired, due to having a busy working life and bringing my two daughters up. Spring 2020 was what I call the start of my ‘gardening journey’, as I had lots of time to do what I wanted and of course it coincided with the arrival of the covid pandemic and ‘lockdowns’. I suffer from anxiety, so my garden turned out to be my sanctuary very quickly during those strange and challenging times.
I live in a grade II listed cottage in West Yorkshire with my husband and Murphy, our cocker spaniel. We moved here in 2011, and we couldn’t be happier. The previous owners had renovated the cottage and done a lot of work on the garden, particularly at the back, where they had had to do a lot of landscaping and built a small pond. It was lovely, but it definitely lacked the ‘cottage garden’ feel.
So, gradually we started to put our own stamp on it. The first plant I definitely had to buy was a climbing rose for the front of the cottage, after all, who can have a cottage garden without roses? I was walking around the garden the other day and counted my roses. I’ve now got 21, climbers and shrubs, my favourites being ‘Lady of the Lake’, ‘The Generous Gardener’ and ‘James Galway’, all by David Austin. June is definitely my favourite month in my garden, there’s nothing better than losing myself deadheading the roses early in the morning with my first coffee of the day!
Gardening is a fantastic hobby, it gets me out in the fresh air, keeps me active and definitely helps my mental health, but it can be expensive. Being a true Yorkshire girl, I like to look after my pennies, so during the pandemic I started growing my own flowers from seed and propagating some of the plants that we already had in the garden.
I’m lucky that I have a greenhouse, one which my husband built me several years ago and now it’s my ‘happy place’, particularly in the spring when I’m sowing my seeds and planning my summer garden. I grow both flowers and vegetables, but I admit that flowers come first. There’s nothing better than sowing seeds, nurturing them and seeing your hard work pay off in the summer months. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a visit to our local garden centres, and generally buy more than I intended, but I appreciate the flowers that I’ve grown myself so much more!
Some of the plants I’ve grown this year include Cosmos, Verbena, Stocks, Antirrhinum, Salvia, Ammi Majus, Lavatera, Poppies, Sunflowers, Foxgloves, Asters, Chinese forget-me-not, Erigeron, Cleome, Pansies and Scabious. We have a vegetable garden at the back of the cottage with nine beds. This year I’ve taken over two of them for a little cutting garden area, where I’ve planted a lot of my annuals and also some dahlias. They’re doing well, and I can’t wait to see the results, but it’s been quite challenging to keep them happy with the recent heat wave we’ve had. We also have a shady area at the back of the cottage, where we have a small pond and a large old potting bench where I like to display my pansies. I love pansies and have grown my own for the first time this year, why I haven’t grown them before, I’ll never know.
When I started gardening, I knew that I had a lot to learn, and don’t get me wrong, I certainly still do. I think gardeners are learning all the time, no matter how much experience you have. I was actually surprised at how much I did know though. I remember spending many days as a child watching my Mum and my grandparents in the garden and I must have picked up a little bit of knowledge from them. I’m really pleased that my eldest daughter has also recently taken an interest and she is has even started sowing seeds instead of calling to ‘borrow’ seedlings from my greenhouse! Our young grandson likes to help me water the plants when he visits and has helped me sow seeds too; I hope his early interest continues, children are our future gardeners after all.
It’s important to remember that you don’t need a large area to be able to garden, I love growing plants in pots and all types of vintage containers. I’ve used everything from old dolly tubs, pans, kettles and sieves. During lockdown I ran out of pots and even grew some vegetables in old wellington boots! Gardening makes me happy, it’s both challenging and rewarding at the same time. It reduces my stress levels and helps me with exercise. There’s no better feeling than seeing seeds that I’ve nurtured, turn into beautiful flowers and healthy vegetables to eat. If you haven’t given it a go yet, then you should give it a try, I’d be amazed if you didn’t get hooked very quickly!
You can see more of my garden on instagram: