London (change)
Today 21°C / 16°C
Tomorrow 22°C / 15°C
1 to 20 of 47 messages
11/08/2014 at 23:34

I wasn't a born into gardening person, I was born in 1949 so it wasn't that long after the war ended and because i lived in the dock area of liverpool i could see plenty of the signs of "Hitlers" calling cards,

bombed buildings to play in, lots of second hand shops and street after street of terrace houses,

Smoke pouring out of the chimney pot's, cobbled streets, rag & bone men giving gold fish for a bungle of rags, (many a kid gave his mums washing away for a gold fish.

Most houses we're rented and the area was a slum area

But it was home and to us kids it didnt matter anyway.

out side loo's and the dreaded lead water pipes that burst every winter,

no upstair electrics and no central heating,

A concrete back yard and a block of 5 toilets to be shared by 12 houses

(bring your own loo paper some had izel wrote on them and some had the street comics offering    ie "please use bothsides" added in pencil

The only grass was at the end of our street on the old railway banks,

It was a common thing to hear the mums telling their kids to go and play on the railway,

Not that they wanted the kids to get runover by a train but more of it's a safe place to play and all us kids did play for hours there,

But we we're very lucky "so my dad said"

because we lived in the only semi d'tached house with pink outside wall paper on the outside walls and all this was thanks to Hitlers bombs missing the docks and hitting our street instead,

Hence the gap between us and next door.

So how the hell did i become so interested in gardening !!!!

It was thanks to my grand dad, he worked in the local flour mills and these mills had allotments for those who wanted to garden and so after working shift hours all week and in very dusty conditions my grand dad's escape was to go to his allotment and try to clear his lungs and enjoy some fresh air and grow veg,

I would go with him on a saturday and before the men started gardening they would have a cuppa and a bacon toasty and tell jokes,

I loved the feel of the place the nice people (all men in those days, No lady allotment gardeners)

And i started to learn how to grow things and that carrots didnt just come in tins but they could be grown in the ground.

The bug had hit me without me really knowing it,

Now i live in an old farmhouse, have land and grow a lot of my own food,

A very much different life to my grand dad, But the skills he showed me are still used to this day and i still enjoy the verious jobs around the garden,

Every now & then I'll get a flash back when i least expect it to those day's as a child and the semi my dad was so proud of,

like last winter when the inside of my shed window iced up and i remembered drawing ice faces on the bedroom inside window way back in that old house in Liverpool,

It's a wonderful thing a memory and the thoughts of times long gone,

Times and thoughts of the garden, the muched loved pets special spot "the grave"

The bench you bought and placed in the garden to just chill out on,

It really dont matter how or when you first started gardening but it will one day be the thoughts you made that will matter and you'll relive many happy times while sitting there on that bench just remembering.

From a concrete slum area to a countryside garden "no sounds of trains passing by just the sound of silence and peace perfect peace,

Ive said it before and i'll say it again it's so quiet of an early summers evening here i swear you could hear a mouse fart.

Now lets hear how you started gardening

11/08/2014 at 23:50

...I would have a shared experience with some of the above that you write about...but little nostalgia for the olden days....   being just a little younger than you... I recall those times as being pretty horrid to tell the truth... long gone...

...I think most people get into gardening when they buy a house for the first time... as we did in the early 1980's.... prior to that had zero interest in fact I would have found the subject completely boring with a capital B... but strangely once you get the's like a virus that takes hold and from then on you never shake it you...?

12/08/2014 at 06:12
Just a way of life, always done it, i supppse you could blame my parents
12/08/2014 at 06:17
Some of those things you mentioned were still around in the midlands in the 80/90s- i remember ice on the inside of my windows, not many mice farting tho, my dad used to shoot the rats with a shot gun!
12/08/2014 at 09:57

I started a thread on this subject some time ago. Here are all the answers then  There are some interesting tales there, but there are people who have arrived since then so it would be nice to here their stories.

12/08/2014 at 10:05

Lovely post!

Afraid my experience far less poetic.. my new neighbours took out all their trees from the garden a few years ago leaving us with zero privacy and I had to learn about gardening quick smart! Had no interest before this but was bitten by the bug as a result and never looked back - made lots of mistakes along the way but given me so much pleasure to see my garden emerge from scratch!


12/08/2014 at 10:24

We had bees in the garden. Our garden was just a lot of scruffy grass and no flowers. I thought gardening was mowing the grass, sometimes. Then I realised that perhaps it would be kind to grow something for the bees. The grass is even scruffier but at least there are lots of flower beds now and even a few veg. I love being outside & having bees around me.

12/08/2014 at 12:32

Before I met Mrs Fish I saw gardening as something boring,middle aged people did. Apart from ponds though,we had a pond from an early age and being interested in animals/wildlife I was forever there with a net and jam jar.

But plants just sat there and did nothing,or so I thought but they couldn't compete with football,wildlife,fishing,fish keeping,rock bands and getting drunk with my mates.

Along came Mrs Fish. We moved in here and the back garden was a mass of old dead grass and brambles. My Dad,being a keen gardener all his life,offered to help me create a lawn. We dug it all over,sowed the grass seed and created the lawn.

Since then,with Mrs Fish becoming gradually less and less mobile and me being her carer,I've come to love gardening probably because its one thing I can do without having to leave her. One condition she has is epilepsy which requires me being on hand,so in the garden I'm within earshot. The fishing and boozing has had to bite the dust though,the latter probably for the best in respect of my own problems with anxiety/depression.

But now I've come to appreciate the beauty and wonder of plants and regret not starting sooner. I've discovered how integral they are to nature's grand plan. Without them,neither us nor the wildlife I so love would exist. But above all I find gardening relaxing,rewarding and the fact it has brought me into contact with all you wonderful people  

Wow,I've rambled on a bit there haven't I 

12/08/2014 at 13:25


You all told a story without saying a word,

It's really nice to hear life has so much to offer if you just stop following other's like sheep,

I do read the uk news everyday and i see people doing some really bad things and i think to myself do these people never think how the likes of Eric clapton, Hank marvin,

And many more people got to learn what they do!!

It was'nt by committing crime for a hobby, trying to escape this world by taking drugs, and not by hanging around street corners,

I wonder how many people have ever climbed the safe paths up the likes of snowdon !

Gardening not only takes you time but its one of the hobbies that pays you something back in food,

And you can meet some really nice people from all walks of life.

The starting point is interesting as is the past of other gardeners,

I myself when i see the over sized kids of today who seem to think the world owes them everything they want and now,

Im glad i had the start in life i had,

I'd be the first to remember the street, the area and say yes it was a slum,

but i did have an outside play area "the street" and i did have  close friends to play with, and the family,

I even had an aunty who had a hobby!!!

"knitting" she knitted me my first swim/trunks complete with a snake buckle elastic belt,

the costume  or cossy as we called them was a deep blue colour and fitted perfect

"just under the belly button and nice and tight around the bum,

Oh yes aunt Loo Loo could really knit inspite of having really bad eye site,

The day i walked into the council swimming pool heads turned, i was proud, I was the kid to be seen,

I dived in the pool "feet firts" and thats about when things changed and i didn't want to be seen,

As i climbed out of the pool my cossy grew and grew and grew, it now fitted my nipples, and the tight bum fixture was very loose, my skin turned blue from the wool dye and my face a very bright red from my friends cheers and laughs.

But i had a full childhood and didnt expect tobe rewarded for everything i wanted,

I soon learnt some things you have to wait for until the times right,

Hence a good start to understanding gardening, some things need tobe germinated first.

Knitting !!! Well thank christ my wifes never asked me if i'd like her to knit me anything.

The only sign of any form of knitting "if you can call a spiders webb knitting is the only thing i look at in great orr, the fantastic work of art  these creatures produce on a fosty night for us all to admire on the frosty morn is something worth looking for.

Gardening is about thought, a plan for your plot and a little hope,

If you got it wrong the first time !!! thats when the otherside of gardening comes in "the finding out why it went wrong" the using of the time when outside work is a no no "freezing weather"

Nows the time for the books a nice drink and the fire blazing away "it's still gardening but at a different time scale" the learning time,

when your interested in something learning is a pleasure Its not like going to school

And the same can be said for gardening "It's not like work when you want to do it it's a pleasure because you like it & you'll find thoughts creep into your mind you never thought you'd think about all while your gardening away or as my wife calls it "POTTERING".

12/08/2014 at 19:56

When I had my first home and a garden  .

12/08/2014 at 21:07

We had a huge garden as a child and my dad did wonders with it for a season or two, but he, as always moved onto a different hobby after that, shame really he excelled at whatever he did but never stayed with it - all or nothing kind of guy. Anyway, over that short period I was given a patch and sowed some lovely mixed annual seeds, I was about 9 or 10, I will never forget the thrill of them emerging and also the delight in seeing them flower; godetia, cornflower, love in a mist, marigolds and poppies. I remember too the lovely tomatoes, green beans, potatoes and onions we picked for those two summers  - and the colorado beetle scare!

He built a fish pond and a rockery, gorgeous, we had the biggest and best fish in the neighbourhood (another brief interest, fish out lived his interest) and it something I have wanted to replicate ever since. When I married (1984) we had a postage stamp of a garden but I did my best with annuals again. 2nd house bigger garden more ambitious, but mostly containers as we worked away and had to rely on self watering system.

3rd house, mostly lawn but lots of containers and hanging baskets (deadheading and watering a daily chore, put me off petunias forever). 

Last house mature garden with lots of rhododendrons and mature shrubs so built raised beds for first attempt at veggies - with some success! 

Then arrived in France to a beautiful much cultivated and extremely well stocked garden and panicked, especially as we had to live in UK for the first three months of ownership (Feb/March/April), Still fighting with it, but absolutely addicted, thank goodness haven't got a 'proper job'. 

Everyday I surprise myself with my background knowledge and stun myself with my ignorance - I have a dream and next year .....

Thank goodness for this forum though on so many levels!

12/08/2014 at 23:31

Smokin Donkey - with the greatest respect,I believe forum users are free to give out as much or as little information as they see fit. I could give you all the details but they might not be suitable for a public forum such as this.

And yes I've climbed Snowdon via the less trodden paths (the Pyg Track) and I wasn't following any sheep as far as I know. Take care 

12/08/2014 at 23:47

I got a house with a fairly big garden (well big enough for a GH and veg patch anyway  ) almost 5 years ago, spent the next 4 years renovating the house and this year started to focus properly on the garden.  It's my first year with my new GH and doing 'proper' gardening as I would call it, i.e. nurturing plants and growing from seed, flowers and veg - I've made mistakes but I'll learn from them and next year will be better and so will every year after that 

13/08/2014 at 08:12

One of the big sales here believe it or not in the french garndening outlets are "wait for it"

Plastic flowers, yes plastic, the french like them on graves as they last longer and look fresh,

Not my cup of tea but this is a fact evey street market has a plastic flower stall on it so they must sell well.

13/08/2014 at 08:30


Ive never said anyone cant give as much info  as they like,

I just pointed out that a lot and i do mean a lot of people follow the jones and dont take that extra step in doing anything more,

the point ref SNOWDON was a question also, how many people say to hell with the weather im going for a good walk, im not going to do the same thing every day,

Try this and tell me you only spend the time you thought you would,

Go and find your old box of past photo's and look through them,

I'll bet your there looking remembering times and people gone by for a lot longer than you thought you'd be "just" looking???

That was you  "your past spent times" with friends, people you once spent time doing things with, but what was you doing in those photo's at those times and do you do any of those same things now "today"


My point is give your self that push if your in a rut and you'll be amazed at how much life has to offer without turning to crime, hanging around with the crowd

im sure if you we're to talk to a lot of people in prison for stupid things they'd done but will spend most of their lives there they'd tell you "IF" if only,

i had my time over again "if only"

Following like sheep !!!!!! A lot of people do this and never know their own true potential, always dreaming always looking at what others have,

Its good to have a dream it's even better to see that dream come true

thats what i was meaning.

14/08/2014 at 18:56

I got into gardening when I was forced to retire early due to ill health. I was 48 and found myself with lots of time on my hands and confined to the house/garden.

Gradually I became more and more interested in the garden as, for about 8 months of the year, that's where I would spend my days and, at the best of the season, my evenings.

I don't have a large garden, about 12 x 10 metres at the front and 20 x 10 metres at the back, but it's enough to keep me occupied full time as everything takes me so long to do! 

14/08/2014 at 19:15

I think it is wonderful how gardening can become therapeutic for the body and mind. Perhaps the NHS should consider giving a dose of gardening out on prescription along with some free seeds and a trowel!

I have found it very relaxing and also found my patience has improved and once out there don't stress about time and getting things done - sometimes don't even get to the task I had planned to do, catch sight of something en-route that needs attention and suddenly 3 hours are gone by.

Can't think of a better place to spend your day - and evenings.

14/08/2014 at 20:32

Pottering about has really got it right,

Retirement is a bit mote involved in the daily life style than we really know at the time of first retiring,

What i mean is if you have a partner and all of a sudden your daily routine of going to work has finished,

You now have 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to yourself  'But " also seeing your partner 24 hours a day !!!!

It can be a strain at first because your the intruder, it's you who have come into someone ele's work place  "be it your home" it's still you who is now home all day,

It's you who finds its not as simple as you may have thought it would be,

And if you've not got a hobby other than visiting the pub mid day and eveing,

then you really can be in a mess,

Ive had friends in this state and their marrage suffered and they also didn't seem tobe enjoying life anymore,

But in my case i couldn't wait, i had my gardening and an interest in classic motor cycles (still have) and the car of my dreames to "now im able to enjoy" and still to this day i enjoy that car with pride and the bikes,

But coming back to one or two friends who'd always enjoyed the pub, they became like some sort of neighbourhood moan brigade and within a year had fallen out with the neighbours over silly things,

ie one complained because nextdoor was cutting his grass on a sunday morning, "he'd forgotten that person worked and the weekend was the only real time he had to do such jobs and then only if the weather would let him,

He didnt have time on his hands, he wasn't bored.

I remember asking a few people i knew what they thought ref being retired and with most the same remark came back time & time again

"I dont know we're i found the time to go to work".

So if your near the big day i'd honestly say if you've not got a hobby now !!!!

Then have a think what you fancy doing as a pass time and get your name down for some causes to help get you started,

Gardening is an on going hobby It's one your never finished with,

As one season ends the next starts and just to make it interesting mother nature moves things around every now and again so we dont have a flaming june and so the fruits dont rippen as quick but this is all part of the gardening world and to those who have just started gardening "welcome to a hobby thats a mixture of keeping you fit, keeping you fed with fresh veg, and getting you out in the fresh air.

Some things in life you wonder about and ask why,

ie why do they build old peoples homes within eye sight of the cemitary,

Why is it that 3 buses all turn up at the same time,

And why do some mums have an answer to their kids daft questions without thinking

ie "Mum can i lick the pan??????"

Mums reply

"No pull the chain like everyone eles".


15/08/2014 at 07:39

Hi Smoking Donkey,

Retirement wasn't a lifestyle choice. I had to retire due to a serious and very debilitating heart condition. I was only 48 so certainly didn't want to give up work at that stage of my life. 

As regards hobbies, I had to give mine up as I could no longer, physically, carry them out; keen golfer, keen fisherman, owner and maintainer of classic MG.

I didn't take up gardening to relieve boredom or to keep me out of the pub. I took up gardening because it's one of the few things I can do, all be it gently, in my state of health.

I would much rather be working, playing golf, fishing, looking after my MG and doing the garden instead of only been able to do the garden.

To some people retirement is a forced state not a lifestyle choice.

15/08/2014 at 10:38

Hi potteringabout,

I agree 100% that some people do have no choice and like you have to take what cards life deal,

But my friend, just think about two things, one many more people read these threads than just you and i and if it was'nt for having a hobby "be it gardening or what ever"

what would your life really be like??

Your not an unlucky soul far from it, you can do something to pass away the hours

But some people dont have that choice and infact would give their all tobe able to do anything rather than lay in a bed 24hrs a day waiting tobe fed etc,

Some times its a good thing to say things as they are and if you can pass on a little bit of your own experience of what's ahead (in this case retirement) and what it's really like from both points of view  then i feel thats a good thing.

ie The people who are really worked out in life , those who are sick to the teeth of going to work and cant wait to have the time they've earned to spend how they like

And those who infact fear retiring, It's i feel a good thing to say think now before you retire if you've no interest in anything else other than work thats really bacome a habbit and taken over your life and no wonder if thats what you've done for 45 years why wouldnt it have done just that?

As i said two friends "good" friends made life a living hell for their nearest and dearest by not having any interest other than upsetting people by just being there and complaining all the time.

We all have things in life that dont always go the way we thought they should

My point was just that "THOUGHT" and to maybe put an idea into some peoples minds that if retirement is near !!! and your not sure what its really like then here is my findings on the subject.

Count your blessings not your set backs,

you have a life "it may be a slower one than your past interest "but" it's a life you can still enjoy.

Have you thought of the classic car auctions?

I myself drive a Bentley, ive owned it for 25 years now and its as good as the day i bought it, pride and joy but ive also two years ago bought a wreck of a citeron 2cv

It really was a scrap yard job and its was also a project for those winter days when gardening was a no no thing,

And it's coming along great, when i feel the urge i do a bit more to it,

Ive had to read a lot ref how this and that works and find parts via the inter net etc but its no more heaver work than light gardening, maybe in your health condition it would be a slower thing but "hey" retirement isnt a race, we're allowed to take out time.

If classic MG's was your poison, then why not stop being thought full of what you once did and try doing the things you know you could do,

30 years ago i was jumping out of planes but that was then 30 years ago and the expection of my then career we're alot more demanding than todays life,

Give the classic car idea a bit of thought,its something you can do in all weathers indoors and its also not as wearing on the heart as some parts of manual gardening.

The pc's web/sites for classic cars are full of both cars and info ref restoration etc,

have a look and you never know you may see your old car for sale.

1 to 20 of 47 messages