My father was a gardener. A proper one. A professional. He worked hard and loved what he did. He worked outside come rain, shine, sleet or snow. He could point out trees he had planted near where we lived and he would bore my brother and I with the names of trees, plants and flowers until we begged him to stop. He had dirty fingernails and a constant bad back. There was nothing glamorous about what he did and I decided at an early age that gardening was not for me. I wanted to work in a nice warm office and wear smart clothes.
Then I hit 40 and suddenly being in an office all day was the last thing I wanted. I wanted to be outdoors, do something physical, make a difference. I needed to garden.
At that time, my husband and I lived in a terraced house with a backyard. There was some decking, a shed (it came with the property) and the bins. Easy maintenance. There was nothing green or colourful. The garden had no life, no energy, no soul.
I planted a few pots with fushicas, tomatoes and herbs. But it wasn't enough so I persuaded my husband that we should move to the countryside, buy a small cottage, get a dog and start living 'the good life'.
My father advised me to get a garden that was overgrown. Nothing pristine. Something I could make my own and not feel like I had an obligation to maintain the garden as the previous owners had. We ultimately (after an 18 month search) found the perfect cottage with a garden that wasn't too big for a complete novice but had plenty of space to work with. And, most importantly, it needed a lot of work.
However, moving to the countryside means a two hour commute to work. Buying an old cottage means that most of our time and money has been spent in renovating the cottage itself. Getting a dog means that any spare time is consumed walking him.
After moving, we also went through months of unsuccessful fertiflity treatment, which is stressful, time consuming and both mentally and physically draining. The garden should have been a place to relax but who wants to go out into an overgrown jungle. Its messy and guilt inducing. So I ignored it.
But it finally became time to give the garden what it needed. What I needed.
So nearly three years later during last Spring, I planted my first vegetables. I cleared a small patch of lawn and planted some radishes, spring onions, carrots, beetroot and potatoes. As soon as I dug up my first carrots to make soup, I was hooked!
The last part of 2017 was spent digging up all the weeds and brambles, clearing the ground and, where necessary, putting up new boundary fences. We also put up a new shed, built a compost area and put in two patio areas to catch the morning sun and the evening sun.
Now I have a bare garden and my first job is deciding where to start..........