Garden Memories

Here on the WordFest team we confess we LOVE our gardens. From small backyards filled with pot plants, to allotments and vegetable patches, from lawns and herbaceous borders to wild meadow plantings, they have become our havens of peace and tranquillity, and life savers in the days of our lockdown confinement.

Our gardens, and the gardens we grew up with, are rich in memory and story, which is why at the 2022 WordFest we knew we wanted to include a Writing the Garden Workshop. In the workshop we we will be sharing memories of gardens we’ve known as well as our own gardens.

Here is WordFest team member and gardener par excellence Gillian Wales, writing about Garden Memories – an extract from her blog A Garden For Pablo.

‘I would have been about ten when my father took me to see a friend who lived in a part of Wingate called The Old Pit. I can’t recall the lady’s name but what I do remember, most vividly, is being amazed at the sight of her garden. I suppose today it would be described as a typical cottage garden, lawns surrounded by herbaceous borders, full of flowers in a myriad of colours, with the tallest at the back. It was where I saw hollyhocks for the first time but it was the giant red hot pokers or kniphofias – flowers which I’d never seen before – the memory of which has always particularly stayed with me. (Ironically, it refuses to grow in my garden, much to husband Glynn’s disappointment).

My grandparents, on reflection, had a small front garden which was ablaze with colour, mainly roses of various types, but we were never allowed in the garden, indeed I almost forgot it was there when I stayed in the tiny Aged Miners’ Cottage where they lived, for the front window of the two-up, two-down house was small and so heavily clad in net curtaining to stop prying eyes from gazing in that it also succeeded in inhibiting views of the garden for the insider trying to gaze out!

My uncle’s garden in the house where I grew up was different. There was a small front garden, regimentally ablaze with roses – Peace climbed happily around the green garden fence and my uncle’s favourite, the icily splendid Pascali, stood elegantly amongst Whisky Mac, Ena Harkness and others the names of which I’ve now forgotten. One didn’t walk in this garden for there was no path and it was bordered by a low red brick wall which I bravely walked along one day, falling off and hitting my head on a large, very hard man-hole cover. Blood spurting from my head, my aunt calmly cut away chunks of my hair to uncover the offending cut, dabbed it with stinging iodine and rubbed butter on my forehead to subdue any bruising. I never ‘walked the wall’ again!

Perhaps you have stories to tell about gardens and growing up, maybe you’d like to begin a garden journal, or perhaps your garden inspires you to write a poem or two – if so do sign up for the workshop – October 17th Wolsingham Town Hall. See you there…