I first fell in love with gardening when I moved into my first house.
I was in my mid 20s, with my first mortgage, and my very own back garden.
And it was awful.
With the neighbours conifer trees blocking out all signs of sunlight, and the stickiest clay soil I had ever tried to work with, it left a lot to be desired.
Not one to be deterred by an uphill struggle, with a whole lot of time, love, and perseverance (including letters to the local council about the neighbours monstrous conifers, which thankfully were cut back to their roots after a few months of us moving in), our little garden started to thrive.
First came the cottage garden plants. Stipa, rudbeckia, salvia, crocosmia, to name just a few. Followed by beds of herbs, borders of sunflowers and roses, and last but certainly not least, my treasured vegetable patch. I would grow beetroot, potatoes, courgettes, tomatoes (great in hanging baskets!), celeriac, runner beans, onions, garlic, strawberries, and raspberries. One summer I even managed to grow a singular cucamelon!
It wasn’t a large garden, but I tried to be as creative as possible with the space. Every last inch of soil was gradually filled with plants, herbs or vegetables. Where we struggled for soil, or the soil was too heavy for certain plants, we used hanging baskets, grow bags and pots galore.
Fast forward a few years to when my best friend died, my garden became my sanctuary. My therapy.
I would be out there in the sunshine, the wind, and the rain, morning, noon and night (if I wasn’t working), tending to my plants and vegetables, trying to make sense of my sudden loss.
With few people I could talk to about my loss, my garden became the only place where I could begin to make sense of things.
When I finally moved out of that house, the hardest part was leaving my garden (and my cat, Wigs, but thankfully we were reunited a couple of weeks later).
It was around the time my friend passed away, that I decided to sign up to an evening class in Horticulture. It was here that I met two of my dearest friends, Kim and Kelly.
I had fallen so in love with gardening, that I had started to explore the possibilities of giving up my job in football, to pursue a career as a gardener. If (and it was a big if) I passed my horticulture exams.
Luckily for the world of football, exams are not my strong point. With 8 modules and 8 exams to pass in order to become fully certified, it appeared to be one step too far for this green fingered gingernut! I somehow managed to pass 2 modules in the end (no surprises that they were to do with fruit and veg, and propagation!).
So, I stayed in football, and gardening remained my hobby.
Fast forward a couple more years, and I found myself under the bright city lights of our mesmerising capital city. London. The place I now consider my home.
However, living in London means expensive properties, with little (and in many cases, no) outdoor space.
When I moved to Battersea however, I struck gold. A quirky little 1 bedroom flat with a tiny postage stamp sized terrace. Big enough to line with flowers, fruit trees, grasses, herbs, and even my beloved vegetables.
I may not have the best view in the world (the terrace overlooks a block of flats as well as some homes which house some interesting characters!), but as long as I have enough room to grow a few plants, and enough room to sit back and enjoy this beautiful sunshine, then I will remain one content gingernut.