So I have been gardening for about a year and a half. It all started in 2016: We were still living in Rietondale, Pretoria, in a lovely old house with parquet floors and enormous rooms with high ceilings, and… a non-existent garden. We were renting the house, and when one rents, one does not want to spend too much money on the garden.
We did try a small vegetable patch when we just moved in, but the ground was so poor and the tomatoes that grew were awful and couldn’t be eaten. I didn’t have any knowledge of anything ‘garden’ at all then. My husband is a keen gardener and has green fingers, but he was really busy at the time, so he wasn’t really able to spend much time in the garden either.
Then, one hot summer day, I was looking at the small ‘courtyard’ garden through the burglar barred window of our room, and thought, no more. I shall plant, and I shall plant now. The only thing growing in the garden at the time was lavender. We decided to plant lavender everywhere as it was the only thing loving the sandy soil (that was not retaining any moisture whatsoever), that didn’t need a lot of watering.
So, on this specific day, I was looking at one of the lavender bushes in one of the beds that had died. I grabbed a spade and fork and dug it out. Lots of sweat and blistered hands followed but I was determined. One does not simply dig out a lavender bush that has been established for some years.
The following day I took photos of my garden beds (which were now empty) and drove to a nearby nursery, which specialises in exotic plants. The lady was eager to help me plan my garden, but the moment she saw what my ground looked like, she sent me away with four bags of chicken manure. She refused to sell me any plants, as she said they would only die due to my poor ground condition. And so started my relationship with ground. I followed her instructions and had to wait three weeks for the manure to do it’s job. But it was so worth it. I planted clivias, yesterday-today-and-tomorrow, a geranium and a hydrangea. I then pulled out Jane’s Delicious Garden, which I had received as a gift but up until then it had only served as a pretty coffee table book. From the the first chapter, I was hooked. I started reading the book from beginning to end, underlining and researching.