Our fabulous flowers have taken centre stage on the blog in recent weeks. And rightly so. They have been delighting visitors to the garden, shoppers at Hartley Farm and customers of Young Blooms right through the summer. Even now our dahlias are an absolute delight. However, just as an army marches on its stomach, so a flower garden blooms better for the attentions of a hardworking and skillful group of gardeners. We think that it’s about time you learnt a bit more about the ladies responsible for the abundance of the Not so Secret Garden. Over the next few months we’ll be shining the spotlight on one of the garden gang who work so hard to keep our patch looking lovely. First onto the garden bench is Grace. Grace, along with her friend and neighbour Becks is the inspiration and driving force behind the Not so Secret Garden. It’s been a tough year for them both as they cope with the aftermath of Becks’s illness but, through it all, the garden is fast becoming that little patch of floral heaven they both planned. Here’s what Grace has to say about her year in the garden, top tips for great cut flowers to grow, garden memories and what she does when she’s not wandering around with a bucket and a pair of floral scissors. What’s your favourite cut flower? This year has to be the Zinnia. They are such a fabulous flower. Robust as anything, striking colour and customers seem to love them!
Do you have an unsung garden hero? Verbena! Looks gorgeous when planted in huge swathes and also lasts very well in a vase! Are you an early morning person or a night bird? Early morning for sure, I’m way more productive first thing and there is not much better than being in the garden in the early morning cutting flowers! Can you share your top tip for flower growing? Just get stuck in, if you have never grown flowers before it’s a fun thing to do and you don’t have to spend a ton doing it. Autumn time is great for seed sales. You will get loads of half price seeds this time of year! My garden at home is teeny tiny and I have a Barbie sized greenhouse. I’m gradually expanding the flower part as my husband thinks vegetables are more sensible than flowers! What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt in the garden so far? If it fails just try again and then if it fails again ask for help! The funding that the garden has had from Seedbed has been invaluable. Having Christine and Helen working in the garden has meant that we can bash ideas round together. If one of us gets tired someone else has probably got some much needed chocolate to pep you up! What was your lowest point in the garden this year? On a serious note it was the night Becky had her accident, I didn’t get much sleep at all. It’s been a incredibly tough year for her. But I just remembering panicking in a selfish way about how we were going to get everything planted! But through support from friends and family the garden has survived and Becks is doing brilliantly! She is able to walk with support and I’m really looking forward to her coming back, maybe next year to work in the garden! What’s your favourite scent of summer? The pale pink David Austin rose that’s planted under the arbour and I can’t remember the name of! It’s stunning and the scent is quite yummy.
Tell us the perfect way to spend half an hour in the garden? I’m very easily distracted in the Not so Secret Garden because I want to see everything that’s grown. The garden changes shape so quickly and flowers are always popping up that I had forgotten about. Do you prefer Spring or Autumn? Oh that’s tough. I think it would have to be Spring because year on year I never get over the excitement/pleasure of planting/growing and watching what happens. We know you love the garden but what’s the best place on earth? There are too many to think about, though the sunsets in the garden this year have been pretty spectacular! What’s your earliest gardening memory? Weeding the blackberry patch because my brothers wouldn’t. (We think that shows real dedication to gardening – Editor) And finally…. Red or white? I presume you’re talking wine! It would have to be a nicely chilled white in the summer with a robust red in the winter! Cheese or chocolate? Cheese, without a shadow of a doubt! Cat or do? That’s tough, my cat George can be quite moody so most of the time I prefer Winston my Dog! Winston has a habit of getting in on the act whenever we are interviewed about the garden. What’s your party piece? I can cook a fairly good tarte tatin. Will that do? We certainly do, especially if she brings one to share over a coffee whilst the autumn planting is going on.