The Garden – How Did It All Begin?
In 1989 I was living in Middlesborough, and working for Cleveland County Council. One night I found myself writing a report for work at two in the morning. I was not paid the kind of salary that demanded such devotion. I realised I had incidiously started to slide into workaholism. The trouble was, it was to easy to take work home. It filled empty hours. Living alone there was noone to say, “when are we having dinner,” or “shouldn’t you come to bed? I needed a hobby that would make demands on me. After some thought, I came up with the idea of buying a small greenhouse. Arguing that if I planted seeds, I would at least feel obliged to water them.
The plan worked well. Later that summer my boss came round one day and asked, what I was growing in my compost bin? I replied, “nothing as far as I know.” he muttered, “he wished he could grow things as successfully, deliberately as I seemed to do by accident. Several weeks later when the bin was emptied, I found five pounds of Potatoes. They must have sprouted from some discarded potato peelings. The greenhouse too was a great triumph. That first year I grew, tomatoes, Aubergines, Peppers and Courgettes. The Courgettes were so successful, they seemed to be trying to push me out of the greenhouse. With such a start to gardening on my own account,there was no stopping me. So when I changed jobs, and moved to Bristol, my main criteria when house hunting was, I had to have a garden.
A couple of years later I moved south. I bought a terrace house with a garden. When I arrived there was a lawn, a small area of overgrown shrubs and a formal border alongside the path and a rather dilapidated shed against the south facing end wall.
Gradually the garden changed. A greenhouse was planted on part of the old lawn. Currant bushes appeared where the rest of the lawn and the shed had been. An old bath hidden under a framework of barbed-wire and tufa became a small pond. The long border turned into a raised bed built from long round logs. Potatoes, Cabbages and Onions grew in this bed.
A second similar bed took shape opposite the greenhouse door and became the herb bed. A trellis with an archway over the path had jasmine and roses climbing up it and separated the veg and fruit from the shrubbery.
The log beds however did not prove durable and the path and concrete around the house began to break up. One autumn day about eight years ago I nearly took a tumble when I found that the long bed had partly collapsed over the path. Something had to happen if I was to go on safely and enjoyably gardening.
Next, building the garden