The Accidental Garden

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My Grandfather’s garden was a good place to be. I remember the peppery smell of aubretia vividly and the joy at finding baby frogs amongst the ferns next to his pond. He and I spent time together in his lean-to greenhouse, planting, propagating and pricking out seedlings.

My sister and I digging up potatoes (1978)

It was almost inevitable that I would make a garden of my own...

Life is busy though. With two small children and a fledgling business to look after I’ve often peered out of the window and felt daunted. Sometimes it was literally a jungle out there. I was desperate to have a blend of Gertrude Jekyll-style borders and cottage garden planting but I wasn’t sure how to achieve this with limited time to spare. I began to notice that certain plants self-seeded easily and made drifts of flowers with little intervention from me.

Through neglect rather than judgement, every seed was allowed to germinate and take its place. When I had a free afternoon I’d pull up the thistles and hack at the bindweed and ground elder. I added the odd perennial and threw a few seeds and organic matter down in the Spring but the rest was left to its own devices.

 

It began to dawn on me that this let-live attitude to each and every seedling was creating something surprising lovely when I looked out of the window. I had fallen in love with the mixtures of wildflowers in the grassland, woodland and even roadside verges near our cottage and realised that that the similar floral jumbles in my own garden were something to celebrate rather than apologise for.

The combinations are different every year, like a flowery lottery, and it has been thrilling when wildflowers such as cow parsley and teasels have arrived of their own accord. This wild and woolly yet colourful style of gardening continually inspires my jewellery designs and not only that, many of the self-seeded flowers can be cut and popped in a jamjar to create posies for free. I seem to have created a garden by mistake.

Feverfew, Californian poppies, breadseed poppies, forget-me-nots, cornflowers, red valerian, aqualegias, foxgloves, lychnis, wild oats, cow parsley, ox-eye daisies and teasels all self-seed well in my chalk and clay soil.

Thanks for reading!

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