Thursday, 3 April 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I have been wanting to start a "series" to indulge my nosiness, by photographing gardeners in their gardens alongside an interview about their gardening process.  
I was delighted when my very generous in-laws allowed me to to snoop, pester them with questions, and share.
Maureen and Ivor in their Garden in Oxfordshire
First memories of gardening: Did your parents or family take an interest in gardening? Do you have any memories of these gardens?
My grandparents had an allotment and were keen gardeners. They grew flowers, I think I can remember chrysanthemums, to sell at work and locally in Grove. My mother loved her flower garden and bought most of her plants from Woolworths. It was the custom to share plants if you saw something you liked in a friends garden (it still is!). My father always grew lots of vegetables. I used to help myself to the peas when he wasn't watching.

Ivor: We always had a garden but I took little interest apart from as somewhere to play. It was always pretty but I remember no details about the plants except for a Laburnum tree which was good for climbing. My father had an allotment where I often "helped".

When did you first begin gardening?
I helped mum at home sometimes but really started when we had our first house in Ambleside Drive, Headington. I wanted a house with a big garden. We both enjoyed creating the garden and learning the correct Latin names for plants. When we moved to Yarnton I had an allotment of my own. I grew vegetables and flowers for picking for our house. My strawberries were very successful.

Ivor: I`m sure I must have helped a bit as I got older but have no real memories of doing anything specific. I only really got interested after getting married and having a garden of our own to plan as we wanted.

The mesmerising dance of the group of tiny flys.

 Snooping through the back of the garden, I admired this fence that I hadn't seen before. It had just been cleared and I wondered if it was part of the original fence of the house.
But in fact the gate was from Maureen's first childhood house; the old thatched cottage "Mount Pleasant" at Charney Bassett. I think it is the one in the snow picture taken in 1947.

 What are some of your favourite plants to have in the garden and why? Are there any particular plants that you have moved with or brought with you from another house? 
I love all the spring flowers and enjoy growing some of the British natives. They are simple and remind me of my childhood in the countryside. I used to pick violets along the bank near to home at Charney as a child and we knew where to look for all the wild flowers. There was a field full of blue butchers and some stars of Bethlehem near the school. I love most flowers and roses have become a favourite. We grow a large jumbled selection and I want just about every plant I see. Our garden is very overfull and more like a cottage garden. When we moved to Yarnton, Ivor potted up over a hundred plants to bring to our new garden. Some of the plants came from my parents and grandparents garden. (Dark purple Aquilegias - Granny bonnets)

Ivor: I can`t improve on the classic answer to favourite plant "the one I`m looking at at the time". In general I much prefer simple flowers to highly bred fancy ones (is there a rose more beautiful then the wild Dogrose?) and particularly enjoy wild flowers, even those many people call weeds. Our lawn (I prefer to call it the grass) had plenty of clover and flower beds are full of celandines.

Cuttings of twisted Willow for the choosing. Every year, Maureen and Ivor give me a piece to use as our Easter tree.

What do you believe to be essential in a garden?
Maureen: I believe a garden should have plenty of seats to sit and relax and enjoy the surroundings and sunshine, be wildlife friendly for bees, other insects, animals and birds, with a natural look. Not plants in rows. A pond is always good. I would love to have a beach hut and create a beach garden!!!!

Ivor: One very simple answer WILDLIFE. The garden must be interesting, an attractive and beautiful place to relax but without wildlife of ALL sorts it is dead.

Slight breezes and insisting on using an aperature of 1.4 makes for blurry shots.

Do you have any favourite gardens apart from your own? 
I love looking at gardens and have visited lots of the National Trust properties. I also like the smaller "yellow book NGS" local gardens as they are more realistic. On a larger scale, I like the RHS Rosemoor garden in Devon. I like the secret garden at Blenheim. We have our favourite seat there too. Waterperry is wonderful seeing the Michaelmas daisies especially.

Ivor: I enjoy many of the big gardens e.g. National Trust but probably get more from visiting smaller "ordinary" gardens such as those open under the National Gardens Scheme.

I just noticed how perfect his top was for what he was doing!

I love the size of this Hellebore!
Maureen and Ivor adopted this log from one of our gardens so that we didn't have to "pack it" or leave it when we moved house. I love seeing how happy and proud it is here.
What are some of your fondest memories from your current garden?
(I like the story of Ivor and the Daffodils on your birthday.) 
 I agree about my birthday daffodils. (The Story of the Daffodils: On Maureen's birthday this year, the Daffodils weren't open yet, but Ivor had secretly collected potted, open daffodils and placed them around the garden, so that on the morning of her birthday, Maureen looked out of the window to be surprised by the new splashes of yellow dotted around.) I love the seating area we created behind the flower bed and the bottom hidden area by the field. You can imagine you are in the middle of the countryside. We could see Little Owls nesting and growing up in the oak tree in the field a few years ago. We love watching the birds feeding by the rose arch.

Ivor: It has to be the wildlife. The unusual is always exciting (last year our first ever Fritilliary butterfly and a Hornet on the wasp table (yes, I do feed the wasps)) or birds which you would not expect to turn up in a garden (a Common Gull feeding on the lawn or a pair of Yellowhammers at the feeders) but it is the everyday which probably brings greatest pleasure. 

The view of the field beyond the back fence.

The twisted Willow in my garden was grown from a cutting of this one.

It's a bird! It's a plane!
This could be considered an outtake shot, but it really is my favourite of the two, because it shows Ivor as he is; always keeping an eye out for birds or aeroplanes.
Thank you  for sharing Maureen and Ivor!

If you fancy snooping through their garden a bit more, you can do so here.

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?


  1. What a lovely idea for a series. And you've so many lovely photos there, and those sky shots at the end are beautiful. Must have been fun to do, too? Great interview! x

  2. this is such a great series!!! what a beautiful place to visit and for your children to play... they have a lovely garden and they sound like a lovely couple.

  3. I love this! A new way to do #HDYGG I nice idea. A lovely couple with an amazing garden! You've got lovely photos to go with the interview =)

  4. This is a really nice idea and a lovely read! I love the old cottage photos :)

  5. what a lovely post and such an enjoyable read… I love that your father-in-law's favourite plant is whichever he's looking at when asked! that gate is lovely too x

  6. great idea katie, love the history bits.

  7. That last shot of Ivor keeping an eye out for aeroplanes cracked me up! What a lovely post, so good to hear about times gone by - great idea too. Hope you good :)

  8. I loved reading this and hearing about their garden. What lovely people and that last shot is great :) Looks like my perfect garden.

  9. Oh this is great Kaite, what a wonderful idea, I love reading the history behind the garden and their thoughts and experiences. I really strikes me how they grew up with a generation of gardeners showing them the ropes,so to speak. And just how important it is that we share these skills with our children now, or in my case learn the skills to share the skills!
    Stunning photos, they really are magical. I love this all so very much xxx

  10. What a great idea for a series, really enjoyed reading your post. They sound a great couple, and very lovely pictures too:) #hdygg

  11. I love the story of the daffodils - and as ever, your absolutely gorgeous photos. x

  12. Oh this is so very lovely, such beauty in every photo. I love the fact that his fondest memory is of the wildlife in his garden. Makes me think I should capture the same with my grandad, as he loves his garden.

  13. I so loved reading this, what their favourite plants are and all the memories. And looking at the older posts to see it at different time of the year. Looking forward to seeing it again x

  14. Great series! Such stunning photo's Katie, I love them all xxx

  15. this is simply wonderful! I! x

  16. How lovely that your in-laws encourage wildlife into their garden. A great post!


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