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

April/May 2019

At this time of year I await the blooms on a certain camellia, It is a few years old now and not the most beautiful by any means, however it brings back good memories.

When I was a small boy growing up in North Devon back in the sixties, hours would be spent with my Dad. He was a keen gardener, not so much for flowers, although we did have a small front garden, but vegetables.
I remember helping him put the canes up for his runner beans and sticks for the peas and watching them grow. He would also grow onions, potatoes and all sorts of root vegetables.
We did have a small 'front garden' of flowers and shrubs, a mixed border with two patches of grass, divided by a path which ran to the front door.

As I got a bit older, my Dad gave me a small plot to grow vegetables and I would try to compete with him, with my offerings for Sunday lunch for my Mum to cook.
Dad also put me in charge of a wild hedgerow, which had a long bank about four to five feet wide, full of nettles which we cleared. He would divide many of the perennials from the front garden, which I would retrieve and grow on the bank.

As the time passed into my teenage years, still enjoying gardening and to earn a little pocket money, I would help in an elderly neighbour's garden. Earning '10p an hour' in those wonderful summers of the mid-seventies, growing to become an adult.

My sister in Weymouth had a beautiful 'front garden' where there was much to admire; the many summer colours and fragrances by her drive with her roses, stocks, sweet peas and coloured petunias.
My interest in gardening increased and with visits to lots of gardens for inspiration. This gave me ideas to create my own gardens in life's journey from that small boy to now, some fifty years since I first watched a runner bean climb towards the giant in the sky.

As a boy growing up in North Devon, one of our family's favourite gardens to visit was Marward Hill gardens. This had many amazing rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. My Mum loved this place so, about thirty five years ago I bought her a camellia for Mother's Day. As time has moved on, this is now a part of my garden and I look forward to its display each year.

After building my home here in the Donheads, I am still passionate about my gardening and after some landscaping and designing, there is three quarters of an acre of garden which is terraced with a number of levels and steps. I still grow vegetables, however there are perennials and herbaceous borders, roses, with a few trees and shrubs to keep me occupied.

I still enjoy visiting other gardens to give me inspiration and we have at the Gardening Club three very different gardens to visit in June and July.
A joint visit has been arranged on Thursday 6th of June, to the Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens and Abbotsbury Swannery. This garden has been recognised with several awards over the years, winner of the HHA/Christies garden of the year 2012. It has been described by Alan Titchmarsh as "one of the finest gardens I have visited". We are looking forward to a full day at Abbotsbury.

On Thursday 20th of June we are going to visit Plank House, Gillingham. The house was used as a hospital during World War One, there are many native trees and an apple tunnel. This is very much a garden created for the owner's pleasure with roses, vegetables and soft fruits. Cream tea is included in the visit and we are hoping for a beautiful sunny day.

Our last visit on Thursday 11th of July, is to The Old Rectory, Manston. This is a beautiful restored 5 acre garden with a south facing wall, a 120ft herbaceous border edged with an old brick path. There is an enclosed yew hedge, a flower garden, a wild flower meadow and a well maintained walled Victorian kitchen garden, a large green house and a Knot garden which has been featured in 'Country Life' and 'Dorset Life'. Afternoon tea is also available on the day of our visit.

Please see the Gardening Club website and newsletter for further details.

Louis Parker

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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