The Donheads Gardening Club - Page reproduced from the Donhead Digest.

February/March 2019

Tales of an Under-Gardener.

It would be fair to say that until I married 'She who is the Owen head-gardener', I could not be said to be someone who gardened. Before then, in my teens my parents and I lived in Silverdale, North Lancashire where we had a fairly large sloping garden. I helped my father mow the lawns but the rest was done by a local man who 'came in'. I think my father also enjoyed bonfires - we seemed to have a lot...

After Sue and I were married we have had various houses all with gardens. I learnt two vital garden related lessons early on. The first was; Do not come into the house with a plant you have already dug up, saying "is this a weed?" This, I discovered is apparently, not helpful.

The second lesson was - think before you light a bonfire on a blustery day and don't use petrol.
This because very many years ago my smallish bonfire just wouldn't stay alight. It seemed at the time... a good idea to apply some mower petrol to the pile.

Two consequences quickly followed. The first was over-hearing our delightful neighbour Mark say to his wife "I think that bang was Concorde flying over". The next was when Sue emerged from the house to see if I was still conscious. An attempt to brush it off produced a response; "If it was nothing why is you hair singed, and where are your eyebrows?". Since then as a general rule I have remembered that the only thing worse than a bonfire that won't light is one that you can't put out.

Our next house was a cottage with a stream. We stayed there over thirty years and one summer a duck abandoned its newly born offspring (seven in all). Sue gathered them all up and put them in a large tin bath in the stable. (The horses were not very pleased!). Within a short time the ducklings had bonded with her wellingtons and followed her around the field and garden. They clearly had no intention of leaving. Eventually they were put into the water and firmly sent on down steam. But they didn't look happy...

In Donhead St Mary we have a garden of two parts: a lawn with a formal garden. Then beyond a hedge, a wild garden. This just needs tractor mowing. It has camellias and rhododendron bushes along with apple and plum trees. Cutting this grass is the job of the head gardener on a ride-on. I have used it very occasionally. One afternoon I helped out with the lower garden and mowed too near a tree. Choosing my words carefully, I can only say that part of the rear wing just 'fell off'.

Fortunately a quick call to Pete at Shaftesbury Mowers meant he came and took it away. When he brought it back later (duly repaired) I was out. Friendly chat to Mrs Owen - "how did you do this?" Long pause - "Oh I see, it was Bill wasn't it?".... I still don't know how he got the wrong end of the stick.
Despite these little moments I would say that life as an under-gardener is very enjoyable - and division of labour works for the two of us.

Bill Owen

The Donheads Gardening Club is affiliated to:

The RHS, The Gardens Group Sherborne and the Wiltshire Gardens Trust.

We always welcome new members, please see our membership page for details.

Useful Links

Country Gardener Magazine

Open Gardens - National Directory

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