Saturday, 5 January 2013

Vegetables or Flowers? My love of Gardening

Grandma Miller  & Betty Mackenzie in the cabbages, Edgware, Middx, 1941.
I love gardening and so does my daughter Chloe. She loves vegetables and I love flowers. I am hopeless at veges and can hardly grow parsley but I am a dab hand at flowers.

There is no doubt that I get my love of flowers from my grandfather Pop Thorpe  and my daughter gets her talent from the Miller side of the family who went in for veges in a big way. Just look at the size of the cabbages in the Dig for Victory garden that my grandfather grew in deepest Edgware during World War II. They were enormous!

Grandpa Miller had a sizable garden for a large semi detached. He came from Rutherglen, then a distinctly unfashionable side of Glasgow not known for gardens but he became a dab hand at it when he got the chance. It was done in the cottage garden style and before the war must have bee quite beautiful but the war meant digging up the lawn into two large beds to grow food and Grandpa Miller did this well. It was never returned to its pre war glory and I never appreciated it.

Grandpa Miller's secret was lots and I mean lots of water. He would sit, hose in hand for an afternoon watering the delphiniums for hours. They reached the sky.  Today I cannot afford this. A quick ten minutes night and morning is all my plants get even if gasping.

By contrast Grandpa Pop Thorpe's garden was flowers, flowers, flowers. He grew everything from seed and he too loved his garden. Coming from the back streets of the Manchester slums his garden must have seemed like heaven and I still think of heaven as part of this garden. The bit by the greengage tree and the tennis court are my idea of The Garden of Eden.

It was huge, well it seemed huge to me and it was designed. Unusual for the 1930's, rose garden, orchard, herb garden and one section that I think was supposed to be the kitchen garden but Pop did not care for vegetables even during the war.

So I am a Thorpe when it comes to gardening and my daughter a Miller. Neither of her other grandparents cared for gardening. We both garden!  It seems to be in our genes.

Thamesway, Taplow, Barr's tulips 1952.

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