“My Garden Age”

My Grandfather was a professional gardener, who worked for a garden enthusiast and writer – Avery Tipping.  Together they renovated several manor house gardens in the Chepstow area of Monmouthshire.  At one time there were over 40 gardeners working for my Grandfather and their garden renovations included digging out large lakes constructing stone walled terraces and re-establishing extensive kitchen gardens, rose gardens, perenial flower beds and planting many trees.  Mr Tipping was the Gardening Correspondent for the News Chronicle and many of his gardens were featured in the Illustrated London News.

I only knew my Grandfather after he had retired and although he had a spectacular garden of his own, I did not spend long talking to him about his life.  I wish I had, because I am sure there was much he could have taught me.  Luckily he did pass onto me a love of gardening.

As I sit in my garden at the end of June, I am left pondering what he would have told me and how much can my garden tell me now about growing old.

It’s late June and the bursting buds of May and their floriferous fanfare in early June are now past.  There is a time for every season and May is surely the crescendo of spring.  My Grandfather gave my Mother the middle name of “May” – I am sure it must have been his favourite month given to his first daughter.

Lesson  —-  Cherish the time you share with your Grandparents, it’s too late to ask questions later.  That’s a lesson for Grandparents too.  You have much to pass on – family values, fond memories, living history and a wealth of understanding.  Better and more sociable than any computer game.

By late June the first flush of roses are over but individual blooms are still there to cherish.

Lesson  —-  Everyone’s an individual waiting to bloom, they all should be appreciated for what they are.  It’s not their age you should see, just the colour of their unique life.     Old age is a time to sparkle and shine,  that image paints memories in your mind for much longer than a lifetime.

The foxgloves are bent over slightly, but still beautiful in their country cottage memories.  The delphiniums at their very best – standing proudly upright to attention, like guardsmen – Royal in their blues.  The lupins in their yellow, white and pink dresses – ladies out in their Sunday best.

Lesson  —  Sundays, high days and holidays are always a time for dressing up.  It reminds you and everyone else of who you are.  I was always laughed at for getting dressed up at every opportunity.  Top hat and tails for a day at the races; straw hats and blazers for garden shows; union jacks and jazzy waistcoats for promenade concerts at Symphony Hall and fancy dress at every opportunity – a cowboy on an umbrella walk in the park; Bill or Ben for a garden quiz; King Henry VIII for a banquet; a white suited sailor to go dancing. 

Dressing down is not half as much fun, and many old people followed suit in dressing up and were younger for the day.

It’s good to have horizons.  Now I’m looking forward to all the memories and lessons in the garden in the months ahead.

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7 Responses to “My Garden Age”

  1. REFLECTIONS-Life’s pleasure of being in a garden.
    Do you often look out through a window, or into a pond, stream or lake, and while admiring the vista, see an image looking at you? Your Reflection! What does it tell you? How old are you? Does age matter when reflecting on life?
    So many questions, so many answers, and as one enters ones golden years, was I correct to go the path of life I went? Did I make the best of my opportunities? Did you for instance? Do you have any reflections on life’s great tapestry? I am contemplating, finger in fundamental orifice and mind in neutral. When one has reached ones golden years, one cannot fundamentally change the path of life one has trod. However like the garden one can drink in the scents of the flora, reflect in the beauty of the insects and drift into silence listening to the song of the birds. The pleasures I reflect in are the small ones, a good morning, a thank you, a please, assistance across the road, a natter with a friend or stranger, and the look of trust from a toddler as they take your hand to look in a shop window, and the smile of amazement as they talk and discuss all the goodies in the shop.
    Sentimental I may be, but I do enjoy my quite moments of reflection, after years of work and toil, earning a crust, and complying with the rules of society. Life is rich; you do not have to be a millionaire to enjoy it?
    My garden age @ My next bithday I will tell you Intil then I am enjoying life at 60+

  2. Maureen o'Neill says:

    The sad thing about gardens is that as we age they often become impossible to up keep by oneself. The knees stop bending, the back is too painful and a gardener must be found to help keep it tidy.I once wrote this whilst sitting in the garden;

    Time is far spending,
    The evening merges
    Into night.
    The birds cease singing-
    (Black notes on a
    Five barred tree.)
    The bat flits
    Down the lane
    And the campion
    Droops its head.

    Time is far spending.
    And I look at myself,
    My voice is cracked,
    My shoulders stoop
    A little.

    Time is far spending –
    MY EVENING is merging
    into night.

  3. With such deep and poetic thoughts, have you considered with friends looking for juniper in your garden or hops, and dipping in the streams of life for a gentrle brew, that may well oil those creaking parts that do not bend or open those eyes that do not see, and dream of a thumping head, which maybe where once part of life? It is a sin to grow old, but who said one could not dream with ones friends, and have a polite, gentelle and often pleasant conversation, indeed instaed of the rivally at cribb or whist, which encourages the green eyed monster, all over 50p.
    Dream on Maureen, enjoy your garden and a rolll in the hay may still bring you pleasent memories and a smile, and creaking joints as you get out of the hayrick, or off the wetgrass-which ever takes your fancy????.
    I did like your poem, and what is more its ode to a garden of memories.

  4. I like your idea,
    Of instruments on wards.
    And patients working in unison,
    To strike the perfect chords.

    But no mention of an “ear-drum”,
    Or even a “bum note”.
    I think you missed some pun-chances,
    In the blog;- what you wrote.

    Anyway, keep up the good work, John,
    As we readers write reply in humble-styles.
    We enjoy reading your words,
    On your website….

    (sorry, could not find a rhyme for the last one!)

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