OPENING MY GARDEN FOR THE NATIONAL GARDEN SCHEME
My dad used to grow lots of dahlias 50 years ago; he used to invite people off the street to look at them. His obsession got so bad that he even dug over a patch of ground outside his workplace and planted dahlias there, so that he could spend time with them during his lunch breaks. He always took me with him on the annual pilgrimage to Southport Flower Show. I can remember how excited he was when he got to see a Klankstad Kerkrade “in the flesh” for the first time at the show.
When I was a small boy, it was my job to crawl between
the plants at the end of the season in order to attach a label to the base of
each one. I had to learn to distinguish between the Terpos, the Rotterdams and
the Guiding Stars.
So it’s fair to say that an obsession for dahlias was already in my bloodstream, though it took 40 odd years before the symptoms started to show!
When we got married my wife and I looked for a house with some land, and we eventually settled in a 30’s semi with a long back garden. However, I had no intention of growing dahlias there; in fact I didn’t grow any flowers in the garden for 20 years. Like many young men, I rebelled against the things my dad taught me to do, and I grew vegetables instead. Every winter I had a load of cow muck delivered, and dug it in. On this ever improving ground I grew enough vegetables to keep my family well fed. However, as my sons got older they began to reject the veg that I had grown for them. A battle ensued, which culminated one Sunday when they refused to eat the broccoli I’d grown. I told them that the boiled caterpillars on their plates had only ever eaten the broccoli, so they wouldn’t do them any harm, but no…..