Beginning gardening

Three and half years ago, me, my husband, my two year old daughter and my still crawling baby boy, packed up, left London and moved to Norwich. I wasn’t really a gardener then. We had come from a two-bed, ground floor flat with a shared courtyard and lawn, near a busy high road.

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I did have some special plants in pots: an olive tree that was a gift from a close family friend, a glorious, towering golden bamboo that used to tap on the windows of the flats above us, a japanese maple (or ‘acer’) that changes from green to red through the year, and a tactile, red bottlebrush. Our brilliant removal men managed to get the plants into the lorry, drive them over Tower Bridge, up the Bow Road, onto the M11 and A11, and finally manoeuvre them into our new garden without sustaining any damage to themselves or the plants.

The house we moved to is a 1950s semi on a quiet close in Norwich’s golden triangle area. It felt huge compared to our flat in London, and the garden huger. (It’s a pretty average suburban garden really, although much bigger than the gardens in the Victorian terraced streets nearby.) The back garden was nothing special, a few sad shrubs, too many trees, a vast expanse of lawn with a weird stump in the middle, and a raised bed along one fence.

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My mum is a dedicated gardener with a remarkable stamina for hard graft. She helped me to dig up turf and plant my first borders. After a few months, I was confident to go it alone, although she continues to give me lots of help and advice. Since then, the garden has acquired many, many more plants, structure and design, areas for the kids to play in, a kitchen garden and seating areas.

Sadly, we did lose the bottle brush during our first winter; I hadn’t realised it would need protecting from the lower temperatures up here. Now I know better. The bamboo, olive and acer are still going strong, although their cool, square, aluminium containers from Habitat have certainly seen better days. The acer was planted into a border last year and is looking very happy, the bamboo keeps trying to break free, and I may plant the olive out later this year, although I fear the frosts.

I knew next to nothing when I started but I’ve learned so much from my mum, friends, books, magazines, TV shows, websites and visiting other gardens. Now I know what will and will not grow in my free-draining, sandy soil, I’ve learned how to sow seeds and propagate, and made my own lovely compost. It’s been such a pleasure making borders appear and watching them mature, harvesting and eating our own fruit and vegetables, and encouraging wildlife to arrive and stay. Naturally, I have more plans for the garden, and plenty more things I want to try or learn about. It’s all so exciting! I looooove gardening.

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Acerbuddlejaphaeums

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Sambucusachilleageranium

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  11 comments for “Beginning gardening

  1. Amanda
    July 30, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Brilliant – looking forward to you casting your eye over Toby’s garden if you will! 🙂

    • July 30, 2015 at 8:31 am

      Definitely. Let me know when the work on the house is done and we can all get together and come up with a design. I imagine it will need to be very low maintenance!

  2. Amanda
    July 30, 2015 at 7:49 am

    Can provide you with a pony but not a pond 😉

  3. Betty
    July 30, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Looks fantastic ,such lovely colour combinations. A beautiful and functional space. Well done Rajul.

    • July 30, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      Thanks for all your help and advice MUM! xxx

  4. Katy
    July 31, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Looks so lovely! We have also gone from tiny courtyard to lovely garden space but it’s taking awhile to get to get to a mature place but so lovely watching it grow. You will have to come over and give us some tips!

    On a separate note be nice for felix and Robin to be class mate they seem to have a great time together at Jj and Matilda’s party!

    Katy x

    • July 31, 2015 at 9:26 am

      I’d love to see your garden Katy! Checking out other people’s gardens is almost as much as fun as working on my own 🙂 The kids did play nicely together didn’t they? I think they’re going to have a lovely class next year. x

  5. Auntie Gayle
    August 1, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    The garden looks great! Well-deserved reward for all your hard work.

  6. June Perrett
    May 14, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    What a lovely garden you have created. I love the colours and plantings in the different areas, the winding path of stepping ‘stones’ and the little blue ‘house’. Wonderful in just 3 years.
    My garden table and chairs are blue and I love the effect it has contrasting with the green of the plants.

  7. March 22, 2017 at 9:19 am

    You must have worked very hard to effect such changes, Rajul. Love Norwich and used to love to visit the garden of the late Will Giles which was truly inspirational. Sadly closed to visitors now I believe.

  8. March 23, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Your blog is great and I look forward to following it and hearing more. Your climate in Norwich will be very very different from mine in North London so interesting to hear what you grow.
    My blog is called londoncottagegarden.com and I’m just starting out too – it’s great fun isn’t it.

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