I can’t remember a time without gardening. It’s my parents’ passion, and it’s a link that they’ve shared for more than 50 years. And they passed their gardening bug onto me.
Growing up, we always had a garden. At our first house, it was in pots, and I remember cutting down all mum’s flowers with the scissors out of my toy nurse’s kit; I must have been two or three. From there, we moved to a house with a good-sized garden where we grew vegetables and fruit. I learnt from watching and working with mum and dad. Here I earned my Brownie gardener badge, watched fat thrushes eating blackcurrants off the bushes and raided the pea patch with my sister.
And ever since I’ve had my own home, gardens have been places where I can lose myself and switch off. For me, they are a release. A creative spot. It’s a practical place. And a slow-grow, live-in-the-moment escape.
I often spend far too many hours in front of a screen as a freelance marketeer and copywriter with ItsLello. So my garden is my little patch of green where I can use my hands, find some headspace and let my imagination grow wild. Hence Lello and Green.
We live in Llanfairfechan in North Wales, a small coastal town at the foothills of the Carneddau Mountains. Our house sits on a steep hill and has a large garden that overlooks the sea. The sunsets here are just stunning. We can see over to Anglesey and in the spring, the sun sets over the east of the island behind the lighthouse at Penmon Point. And by late August, it disappears way over the west, towards Newborough. It is a beautiful place to live.
Our Victorian house looks down onto the garden. It’s not an easy space to work. The plot is steep, the soil is very free draining and being on the coast, it’s often windy, usually from the west, and the air is a little salty. We previously lived in St Albans and our garden there was so easy to manage. I could grow almost anything with minimal effort. Less so here.
Cutting the grass takes about 3 hours. The borders of the garden are mature and need plenty of attention, particularly in the spring. Over time, we’ve developed a good-sized vegetable and fruit patch set over two levels. And I have a “mum-shed” with the most fantastic window looking out to sea which I use to start seeds off (I love my shed). These then go into my two brick-based cold frames to grow on before being planted out.
We compost everything we can. And I love my hot bin which produces at least three loads of dark compost every year and cranks up to over a 100°C on hot days. My younger son is football mad, so the garden doubles as a football pitch. We keep chickens and have had to barricade the vegetable garden!
Last year I let flowers riot through the patch alongside the vegetables, thinking that it would be great for pollination and insects. It did play home to lots and lots of bees, which was wonderful but yields were poor. Learning from this, this year is all about seed to plate with flower margins for the bees instead.
I grow nearly everything from seed – the whole process is therapeutic, and grounding and also saves so much money. And while there are times in the year where my enthusiasm wanes a little, it’s rare that I go a day without spending time outdoors.
I also manage a school garden at our local primary school where, in more normal times, children can learn gardening basics. We grow fruit and veg there and insect-friendly flowers and they love spending time outside getting their hands dirty. We’ve created spaces where children can take a little time out and plenty of space to play. So vital for so many reasons.
Longer-term. I’m hoping to make gardening “work” for me. I’ve recently started studying for the RHS Level 2 qualification to add some classroom theory to my practical experience. Sadly this is on hold due to Covid-19 until courses can start up again but I’ve spent lots more time in the garden this year, so am still learning and trying out new ideas.
Lello and Green is the record of my gardening year and a place to share ideas, learning, failures and successes. Keep an eye on my blog for updates and I hope that they bring a little pleasure to anyone reading it.