Friday, 20 April 2012

Guest post: Pride by Catherine Jennings


I know, it’s not a very British thing to be very proud of one’s self but I am actually very proud of my garden. It has taken a long time for us to be in a place with a garden to call our own and I have revelled in working in it, choosing plants to provide blooms all year and setting up our raised beds.

Our lovely sized garden – enough size for kids and mummy to play in!

Saying this, it hasn’t all been easy work. We have been here for 1 ½ years. When we first moved in the garden was in a reasonable condition but the border was full of weeds, cherry and sycamore seeds had taken root and all number of smaller weeds that I don’t know the name of but just know (through growing up with parents and grandparents who garden) that they are weeds. As we had moved in the September I did a little work in the garden that year but then it got left until the spring. We revelled in the swaying daffodils as they raised their heads and were stunned when the big shrubby thing in the corner turned out to be a large forsythia and the two clematis came into flower. But, there was one particular weed that was through the whole border, even winding its way into the grass; it’s roots deeper than the sycamore seedlings roots and the top shooting out runners like a strawberry plant! Even after a year of uprooting this plant it is still the most prevalent plant in my border!

My nemesis – if anyone knows what this is please help!

More hard work was needed to create our raised beds, constructed out of scaffolding boards that I acquired in exchange for 11 cups of tea and about 20 spoons of sugar. I had a, not so willing, helper who constructed the beds for me and it was a team effort to dig out the beds which we then filled with a rather large number of bags of compost and topsoil but I am very proud of our results. We have onions, garlic and broad beans in one bed and strawberries, beetroot and carrots in the second large one. There is nothing in the small bed yet, either potatoes or courgettes? We can’t decide, we have both to put in but really need some more space!

Onions, garlic and broad beans in one of our big beds – with rhubarb in the pots at the back.
Really and truly, saying that we need more space, I really don’t think we do! I am proud of the progress I have made in this last year and a half as I know we have so much to look forward to over the coming year, the crops we will harvest and all the flowers and herbs in the border will continue to amaze us but there are still areas of the garden that I just don’t have the time to tackle.

My patch of weeds – I am hoping to turn this into a wild flower patch
Thankfully I have enough good parts of my garden to be proud of so these small areas of weeds can be mostly overlooked. I will continue to try to do a little work in the garden every day and will continue to be proud of all my efforts.

Do you have flowers, or fruit & veg, or both in your garden? Which part of your garden are you most proud of? What are you looking forward to coming up next in your garden?

These bluebells are the latest thing that I am so proud of – just emerging out of the stones

Catherine is the latest gardener to be seduced into my bed of roses and thorns, having been completely taken not only by gardening but by writing too. Follow her intriguing journey as Catherine and her family test out food, fun ideas and more at

If you would like to take on the challenge of tapping into your inner gardener and expressing yourself within the hapless family then do get in touch


Anonymous said...

The picture is of ground elder - good luck in getting rid of that one

Chants Cottage said...

Why not put some spuds in bags and the courgettes in the bed? I bought some patio spud bag things and they did me proud last year (even though early on I managed to harvest some seed potatoes due to my impatience... I didn't realise until I'd cooked them. If anyone's wondering, why yes, they were totally inedible).

barbara said...

Hi Catherine. How your garden blooms! Definitely extend your growing potential with latge buckets or bins for potatoes etc. If your house wall is sunny all day you could try cherry tomatoes - these are a better choice for outside as they need a shorter growing season, but get them in asap. Buy them as plants from a nursery now as you are bit late to seed them this year. Water and feed well regularly.
Hope you have a water butt too as you must be in a drought area, you can get a fitting that locks into the house down spout to save rain water. Or use the kids bath water too!
Your ground elder is the most pernicious of all weeds. Do some research on it. We have had gardens where we had to clear the whole bed of plant, then leave the bed to grow more elder, spray it all, leave the bed again, spray again, 2 or 3 times. The only way to actually eliminate it. Spraying is not liked by a lot of people so you will have to put up with it otherwise. All the plants remove we picked over and washed the roots to get any elder rhizomes out. Then planted in pots so we could check there were no more roots left before replanting them. Very time consuming and tedious.

Catherine Jennings said...

Hello and thank you for replying to my blog :)

I have had a look into ground elder, oh dear! I will continue to dig out the bits that I see and just try to keep on top of it for now.

Chants Cottage - great idea, we have now bought some bags for the spuds and courgettes are nearly big enough for the bed :) Seed potatoes can get really smelly, can't believe you even got them in the pan, so funny :)

Barbara - we have some cherry tom seedlings growing and luckily do have a sunny wall so hope to plant those in grow bags soon. Water butt needed but this rain these past few weeks has worked wonders.

I hope all your gardening efforts are making you proud :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Catherine, are you sure it is ground elder? I think it looks a bit like a Potentilla, either Cinquefoil or Tormentil. Does it have pretty yellow flowers? Bridget x

Catherine said...

Hi Bridget, I think it does have yellow flowers as there were a couple on the few that escaped my removal efforts last year. Thank you for your advice, I will have a look into that. It may not be as bad as I thought.

The Hapless Kitchen Gardener

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I only feel hapless because some people make it look easy to grow 10 ft marrows or a banquet of greens whereas my courgettes got nabbed by killer slugs and I only got one raspberry. So tips and stories from people less hapless than I are more than welcome. As a disclaimer though, none of my comments should be taken as expert advice on which you can rely! © Unless stated otherwise, and with the exception of guest content where that guest retains copyright, all photos and posts are the copyright of Tom Carpen and may not be used without permission.