I clearly remember my first attempt at gardening. I was about 10 years old and living in Germany. The local supermarket had packets of seeds with lovely pictures of flowers on the front. The packets rattled when you picked them up. I’d never seen a seed packet before. I bought one and took it home. I found an unloved corner of the garden by the house and raked a clear patch in the ground. I opened the packet and scattered the seed around, covering it with soil. I didn’t stop there - every garden needs decorations right? So I got some old paints from a painting-by-numbers kit in the house and painted a handful of pebbles to mark the edge of my patch. The brightly coloured stones proved irresistible to my little sister, who picked them up. Unfortunately the paint hadn’t had time to dry and she got plastered with oil paint. To say my Mum was annoyed was an understatement.
Despite this inauspicious start to my gardening career, my flowers did grow and I was immensely proud of them. They were carnations, which I still love and grow to this day more than 40 years later. I have always grown flowers in every garden we had (we had many gardens; my Dad was in the RAF and we moved all the time). Vegetable growing came later, first in the garden in raised beds and then in my allotment.
My gardening education has been a mixture of trial and error, advice from my trusty Reader’s Digest gardening books and pearls of wisdom from the old boys down at the allotment and bowls club.