My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.

Claude Monet

Gardens and gardening make us feel better – that’s a fact – and the real magic is that anyone, anywhere can enjoy their healing power. We asked Marian, Programme Manager of Textiles at Waterloo and Annette Welch, Programme Manager of Ceramics at Waterloo about their gardens in the springtime and the benefits of gardening for them. Look back with us to last spring and get inspired for the season ahead this year!

Marian Lynch
Patio Preserve – Covid Free Zone

“During a difficult lockdown, our small patio garden combined with the gorgeous spring weather, has been a salvation. South facing and adjoining a larger communal garden with mature trees, I am thankful and well aware, in a city where many have no personal outside space, to be in a privileged spot, albeit in the midst of scruffy urban streets and arterial roads.

I have tried to create a space that is lush and abundant with contrasting foliage of varying size, shape and colour and fragrant with roses, honeysuckle, lavender and attar of roses, an aromatic pelargonium discovered on a visit to the Eden Project Mediterranean Dome. A tall flowering cordyline, bronze cotinus, plum tree, yet to produce a single blossom, and fatsia japonica give structure and height, backed by climbers and underplanted with flowering shrubs, ferns, perennials and herbs. The original colour scheme was intended to be predominantly blue, white and orange though one corner has become something of a multi coloured fruit salad of gifted plants.

The paving is laid on the diagonal creating deep triangular beds and there are multiple large terracotta pots, a favourite brought back from Italy as hand luggage 30 years ago. This is currently planted with two types of mint, grapefruit and chocolate peppermint.

The daily ritual of watering, looking, deadheading, smelling, pruning, sweeping, is soothing, focussing on the moment in an exterior climate of anxious uncertainty. Running up and down from the first floor kitchen tap with a watering can has been a main form of exercise during lockdown.

Two sapling trees, wild cherry and rowan, acquired free through the  Woodland Trust’s Big Climate Fightback are being nurtured, the blackcurrents netted to stave off the blackbirds and snails removed from within the strap like leaves of agapanthus.

Small garden + modest investment = sanity and consolation.”

Annette Welch
My garden during Lockdown

The garden has been a tranquil sanctuary for me recently, I’ll miss the quietness of lockdown, hearing the birds instead of aeroplanes.

Small trees and shrubs frame the borders, which are filled with plants, many of which I started from seed, or as cuttings or swaps and donations from friends, in particular from  Morley students and colleagues.  The space has evolved and changed constantly over the years and gradually the planting has overtaken the rather paltry lawn, which has got smaller and smaller! Although I love many flowers I l mostly look for variety in leaf colour, form and texture hence the profusion of ferns in the borders – the beauty of them unfurling in Spring is always a soul lifting experience for me. I’m not adverse to a bit of bling though – I have many Dahlias in pots, (I especially love the dark leaved varieties), which will provide a riot of colour in late summer.

I recommend you take cuttings of everything – it’s so much easier than you think and lovely to share with your gardening friends.