You’ve heard all about my gardening journey on this website, but I wanted to hear about yours too.
So I asked you all on Facebook to tell me about what it was that got you into gardening – and you were eager to answer! You told me all about your childhood memories and epiphany moments, and each story was so interesting to read.
Below are five of the gardening journey stories that really caught my attention from Mr Plant Geek readers. If I didn’t include yours here, comment at the bottom of this post and tell everyone your story!
My early happy childhood memory is of having to research plants at age nine by going to an old fashioned library and sneaking into the room to watch Gardeners’ World when my parents fell asleep, all because I had lots of animals – including goats – which I used to feed extra little treats from the hedgerows and wanted to make sure none of which were poisonous.
I was gripped by the huge range of species, and found out that they possessed more than just outer beauty, but benefits such as chamomile and lavender for soothing. So I added a fascination for herbs from this first research into making sure my baby pet goats were kept safe and enjoyed only the best little tasty treats.
I then started growing my own little herb garden alongside, adding to this with some traditional rockery plants, I would take cuttings from neighbours and parents gardens.
I soon found the world of academia necessitated I forge a career to enable me to live-in, so I could afford to leave home at age 17. This took me down the path of nursing, when really I would love to have studied in horticulture. But sadly this did not provide me with board and lodgings so this was put on hold. Added to this, my parents always stated that this career would not pay me enough to live, so again I had to put this on standby as a dream.
I always told myself I would get my own little garden one day. As a child aged 10, researching those plants for my goats and then tending my little herb garden and rockery, and eventually at age 38 I was able to take in my own garden on my own and slowly gain confidence in my true planting passion.
I’ve grown in experience from early disasters of over and under-watering, to placing shade lovers in the sun (and vice versa), until I became proficient in understanding a plant’s country of origin, and its natural planting environment. It was like a penny dropped – a light bulb moment – and I became addicted to my garden and all things horticultural.
I spend every spare moment in my garden, in all weathers. I’ve recently researched how to plant using contrasting colours with the colour wheel and how plant colours change at varying times of the day. This has provided me with an exciting new hot front garden, with Coreopsis Bengal tiger against hardy Geranium double birch, and hot Alstroemerias in the orange colour scheme against tall Agastache black adder, and Helenium moorheim beauty against Aster novii Belgii.
I have a recently diagnosed mental health complex PTSD, which has associated anxiety and depression, and I’ve realised over the years that gardening has been the best therapy for me. Medicine and counselling has not helped, whereas the moment I am outside I almost feel normal, my head clears and I couldn’t feel calmer.
I guess I am not a special case but I do have a strong passion for getting outdoors, trying new plants, sourcing plants from all over England, and offering every moment and all the cash I have to develop my knowledge and success in achieving my ‘haven’ of peace and quiet.
My gardening journey began after a visit to Great Dixter 22 years ago. I was blown away by the garden, especially the new tropical plants type garden. It was previously a rose garden.
Christopher Lloyd was the first person to do this sort of thing with grasses and cannas etc. It was mind blowing. He also had a wonderful sense of colour – always experimenting with contrasting colour combinations and forms.
On top of all that the bones of the garden: the hard landscaping was designed I think by Lutyens or certainly in the style of his work and is divine. Little beautiful details everywhere! Just an outstanding garden in every way.
I was in a very abusive, controlling relationship. We lived off the grid on a farm; I wasn’t allowed to do anything or go anywhere alone so I started gardening as an escape.
Over five years, I made the field our cottage sat in into a garden. I bought plants at car boot sales and online and split plants every year to plant a new area.
I could look at a plant and knew what he had said or done that day to make me go and plant it. I escaped almost a year ago. I wonder what the garden looks like now?
I now have a new garden full of happy plants.
I always had an interest and watched all the TV programs, but it wasn’t until I moved into my first house that it really took off.
I remember watching Alan Tichmarsh on ‘How to be a Gardener’ and there was one bit of advice that spurred me on. That advice was not to be afraid of removing a plant in the wrong place.
The next day, I went into the garden and set about removing a massive overgrown shrub. That left me with some space to plant up and it took off from there.
Two years later, I entered Norwich in Bloom. The year after that, I won two of the three categories I entered. Happy with how far I’ve come, just wish I’d discovered it earlier.
I started gardening really for my own interests as a hobby when I was in my teens. We always had a nice, large garden when I was growing up, as did my grandparents… which is where my interests stem from.
I remember sat with my grandad on a very hot and still summer day; the scent of the old Portland roses wafting up my nose. My grandad taught me how to take cuttings from plants and we would sow seeds in the greenhouse.
By the time I was 20, it was no longer a hobby but an obsession to the point where I’d rather be sat in my own greenhouse taking cuttings than going out with friends.
I’d spend more than half of my wage on plants and materials for the garden. At 21, I decided it was high time I quit my then job as cleaner at the local McDonald’s to work as an apprentice at a local nursery. I stayed after my first year to continue on with my studies for another year and a half. And now I am the nursery manager… talk about turning passion into career!
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook – and writes a plant-focused Substack called Grow This, Not That.