Better late than never

Back in 1995 I had my first garden. It was the unloved space of a rented cottage in a Suffolk village. It felt like I had won the lottery after a decade plus of flats with and without balconies in London, Frankfurt and Zandvoort.

I have always been a flower person, have found gardening over the past 27 years both rewarding and restorative and have hoped to pass on my passion for gardening to my daughter.

Well, if nothing, it looks like my daughter got the gene for smelling flowers! (Left, me with my maternal grandfather looking on, and right, my daughter in my mother’s garden.)

In my first garden there were the usual cottage garden favourites roses, lupins and sweet peas. However, I also had containers full of pelargoniums which I had learnt to grow and appreciate when I was living in Germany. Every balcony in our block of flats in Frankfurt put together a summer display and we couldn’t be the only flat with empty troughs.

First garden with pelargoniums and marguerite daisies in pots and lupins in the border.

I also grew pots of pelargoniums on the balcony in Zandvoort, Holland, but being on the North Sea coast once the weather turned they really didn’t appreciate the salt-laden wind. However, since I’ve been back in England it has been a case of white or pink or dark red pelargoniums in pots every year. Also from that first garden I have endeavoured to get my daughter interested in gardening.

Now, of course, plants in pots need regular watering and if you have the appropriately sized watering can what’s not to like about sloshing water everywhere. In her early years my daughter did enjoy watering, but was less keen on planting and even less keen on sweeping up and eventually wasn’t keen on anything to do with gardening at all.

Watering . . okay, . . . . . sweeping . . not so much . . . . . . . . . . and. . . . NO just NO!

That was until the local television grew came to film my very tall sunflowers and she took all the credit! She was filmed showing the TV man her sunflowers and was delighted at being interviewed. To be fair in the May of that year she had gone round the garden chucking seeds about.

My daughter interviewed (very patiently by Mike Liggins) on BBC Look East. (Apologies for poor quality as photos taken from the telly.)

My daughter has now left home and as a young adult has, surprise, surprise decided to grow a few houseplants.

Over the years I have carried on growing sunflowers with some years being better than others. About a decade ago I switched to peat free compost for growing plants from seed including sunflowers and I didn’t notice any particular change in successful germination or seedling development. However, this year only three sunflower seedlings out of 30 grew big enough to be planted out in the yard and that was only after pricking out the strongest and transferring them into an alternative brand of peat free compost.

Sunflowers in the backyard, October 2022.

It has been a longer wait and more effort than usual, but eventually the sunflowers have bloomed. Late, yes, which means the autumnal winds have arrived and cutting them down has been necessary, but all is not lost as I do now have a very cheerful display on the kitchen table.


Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

18 thoughts on “Better late than never”

  1. I enjoyed this trip down memory lane, it’s touching to read about your love of flowers even as a young girl, and I’m happy your daughter seems to be taking up an interest in plants now. And all the photos of you and her weave your stories together so well.

    1. That’s very kind of you to say, thank you. You know I think it was my mother that took the photo of me with her father and I definitely know she took the one of my daughter. She was an amateur artist and had an eye for a good photo even if she was only a point and snap photographer.

  2. Isn’t it wonderful when the offspring decide that your weird hobbies had something going for them after all? Mind you, with results like these, it would have been hard for your daughter to resist, I think.

    1. It is pleasing to see your children appreciate the activities you loved and have a go at them too. Like many of us older ladies, my great-grandmother sewed, both my grandmothers sewed, my mother made entire wardrobes of clothes for herself as well as for me and my sister, and, of course, I sew too. And, my daughter, well she bought a secondhand sewing machine.

      1. Lucky it wasn’t a dislike for cooking I can assure you πŸ˜‰. My mother was no cook, but fortunately my father was known for his ability to eat anything except bananas.

    1. I have been told that sunflowers grow taller if near tall trees or buildings. Mine are in the partial shade of a tall building, but the tallest we’ve grown, about four metres, was when my daughter put seeds beneath a wiry holly tree. Personally, I prefer smaller as easier to grow especially if it’s windy, but big or small they are so cheery. πŸŒ»πŸ’›

    1. Yes, about that eucalyptus – we all thought its demise would be the answer to all our gardening issues, wrong. Turns out that it might have cast shade, but with it came shelter from the prevailing south westerlies. No such thing as a 100% win.

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