Grandma’s garden has always been a place surrounded by a certain sense of mystry and excitement. My Grandparents (these are my Dad’s parents) have always had big gardens and devoted a lot of care and attention to looking after them.
The house we visited until I was about 6 had a long garden and orchard, at that age, I thought it was the longest garden in the world an went on forever! A trip to the bottom of the garden and back, clutching onto Great-Grandma’s hand, was a very long way for my little legs.
The garden that my sisters and I played in when we were growing up was a tiny little garden at the back, mostly concrete, and an even smaller little area at the front of the house, which had a little apple tree in it. The back garden was so small we called it the Apron-Pocket. We used our garden well – the big tree was Robin Hood and Maid Marion’s secret hideaway, the little weeping-willow-like tree in the grass patch was a house for dandalion-soup parties, the concrete alley-way down the side of the house was the site of many a school-room, ballet studio and the place where I broke a window trying to play tennis and the poor patch of grass survived bravely for years, despite the number of time we tried to dig a hole through it to get to Austrailia!
But Grandma’s garden was a place of space and adventure, a place filled with little paths and big trees, a pond and lots of bushes which were brilliant for playing hide-and-seek! My youngest uncle and aunt were twins and only 7 years older than me, and they devoted many hours to playing with us in the garden (oh yes, and the house, where I managed to lock 4 of us in a bedroom by pushing the door-knob down the back of the radiator …), playing hide-and-seek, planning treasure-hunts with us and setting up the garden chairs for us. The garden was always shared with somewhere between 1 and 5 dogs, ranging in size from a Pekingese to a St Bernard!
The next garden my Grandparents owned had a bigger pond, but wasn’t so long. There was an old shed with vines growing up the outside, which was filled with old books and un-used furniture. There was a line of huge fir-trees, which waved back and forth in a rather menecing way when it was stormy. Grandma had a vegetable garden, although I can’t remember how successful it was. There was a stream which passed by at the front of the house and a little tiny foot-bridge crossed over it from the road to the front door – although I don’t believe I ever went through that front door or saw it open, as my Grandparents have only ever used 1 of the front doors of the 4 houses they have lived in since I was born! Grandma taught us to play French tennis on the lawn at this house and there was a paddling pool often out in the summer. One 5th of November we had sparklers on the patio to celebrate
Guy Fawkes! We found frogs in the stream during a thunderstorm – I remember that I actually never saw them, as one of my younger sisters, N, my youngest aunt, K, and I got scared of the thunder and ran home to hide behind the big curtains in the lounge! (K, of course, said she was just doing it to stop N and I getting too frightened … :)).
The next house was 4 hours drive away and not only had a garden, but a big field too! It was like having your own hiking trail in your back yard! 🙂 This garden had different sections, devided by tall evergreen hedges with little archways in them; it had an old milling-trough and mill-stone inbedded in the grass, which Grandma turned into a beautiful centrepiece for the garden, by fillng it with flowers and little bushes; it had little stone pathways winding around beside the areas of grass, with tiny plants and flowers growing up between the cracks and it had a wooden arbour, with roses and vines growing around it, leading up one path to the garden shed – this was absolutely beautiful in the summer, when the vines had big leaves on them and the roses were in full bloom!
The garden my Grandparents have now is back down closer to where my parents live and, in my opinion, the most beautiful out of all the gardens they’ve had! I might be wrong, but I think it’s also the garden whcih they have put the most time and effort into improving. It was a lovely garden when they first bought the house 10 years ago, but now it is a place of beauty and peace and charm. The big flower beds have now been broken into smaller ones, with little grass paths running in and out between them; they have built a long Rose Walk down a stone path and out along a stretch of grass; they have put a little spring going into the pond, put a bench by the pond and cared for and improved the beautiful pink and white heather growing around
it; the little wooded area at the bottom of the garden has been planted with daffodils, cleared of piles of branches and garden rubbish and had benches and wooden archways put in it and although the number of big old apple trees in one part of the garden is lowly decreasing, as they are being suffocated by the miseltoe growing on them, Grandma’s garden is a wonderful place to be, filled with little surprises round every corner. As my Grandparents have got older, they have needed more help with the heavier duties and have dug over the vegetable garden and are slowly turning it into more flower beds. The greenhouse stands at the bottom of the used-to-be vegetable patch now largely un-used, and filled with dead or dying plants, old flowerpots and broken garden forks, but standing steady in the spring afternoon sunlight, it still seems to have something about it that the garden would be lacking, if the greenhouse was to be removed. The summer after moving in, Grandma discovered giant
raspberries growing on the fence behind the greenhouse, which when sampled, turned out to be lovely, juicey, sharp loganberries – I was the only one who loved the sharpness and didn’t want to have sugar on them! 😉
All of Grandma’s family still enjoy her garden – my Grandparents enjoy working in the garden, looking after the flowers, mowing the grass and walking their dog there in the evening; My parents and uncle and aunts enjoy the space and peace when they visit and enjoy walking round the garden with my Grandparents, talking and catching up; my sisters and I still love Grandma’s garden and enjoy exploring it, watching the season come and go and taking photos; my youngest cousins 2-7 years old, enjoy what I used to enjoy when I was little – exploring the paths, finding glorious freedom in a long garden that seems to go on forever, playing hide-and-seek behind the trees and bushes, throwing balls, playing with the dog, riding the trycicle and walking round the garden with Grandad.
My aunt K got married from this house and had her wedding reception in the garden. One summer my Grandparents put up a marquee again and this time celebrated my Great-Aunt S’s 80th birthday, my Grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversery and my parent’s 25th wedding anniversery in one big family-reunion and celebration! When my older sister, J and I were little, we stayed over Christmas at my Grandparent’s house and on Christmas Eve watched as Grandma hung J’s, my, aunt K and uncle B’s stockings on the banisters, before the next morning we lept out of bed and scanned the garden for any sign of snow! Two Christmases ago I stayed with my Gradparents over Christmas and Grandma dug out the old stockings and left mine, filled with little treats, just outside my bedroom door – I didn’t leap out of bed exactly (a slow, stretching crawl describes it better!) but I just had to look out of the window and check for any snow on Christmas morning – even though I knew there wouldn’t be any! 😉
My Grandparent’s garden has seen many celebrations and happy times and I hope that my Grandparent – and their garden – will get to witness many more! I didn’t get married there and I don’t think L got to see the garden when I first took him to meet my Grandparents, but who know what will happen in Grandma’s garden in years to come?!
What memories do you have of your Grandparents and their garden/s?