Thursday, 1 May 2008

Real Family Gardens

Apart from spending a lot of yesterday with my nose pressed up against the window I spent a lot of time with my nose pressed in books. Gardening books, naturally.

I'm looking for inspiration. I am sorely lacking it when it comes to ideas on creating our dream family garden, for some reason. Actually, I probably know the reason. Our garden, like the rest of our house, has to accommodate a lot of people with a lot of different needs in not a lot of space with not spending a lot of money.

I have been looking at some books to help me, some of which I have had for years although, to look at my garden, you'd never guess.

So piled up on the garden table is Bunny Guinness' Family Gardens, Sharon Lovejoy's Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots, Great Gardens For Kids by Clare Matthews and my latest acquisition Small Family Gardens by Caroline Tilston, which I thought would be perfect.

Except, none of them are perfect. They are all wonderful, with lots of ideas and photos and yet they don't seem to feature real family gardens and by real I mean gardens with washing lines. Dogs who dig and poo. Chickens who decimate your lawn. Climbing frames made of metal and blue plastic. Unsightly compost bins. Of course their gardens may all have this, just tucked away in their second acre.

What I really, really want is a book about how to make your family garden suit everyone and look great without winning the lottery or relocating to something sporting an acre or two. And I want to see washing lines featured. Prominently. Is it too much to ask?


  1. I think it's a realistic request. I laugh though because when I saw your picture labeled "our plot" on the right of your blog, I thought how perfect it looks. I just got through planting peas, corn and beans with my little ones and we used rocks to mark the spaces for each type of plant. There are no straight lines for us! We fly by the seat of our pants here. How do you write a book about flying by the seat of your pants?

  2. I swear my neighbours think I hate gardening and would faint to discover that I have an allotment. I think about how I could make my garden one that works for us all- a toddler safe (forward planning as the baby is already crawling), mini footballer's paradise, with seating, large cold frame, area for chickens, herb border and no out of control jungle. A tree surgeon quoted over 350 quid to tame the trees. So a real family garden might be one with wonky trees without that dreamy lottery win. If you come up with something good and cheap for a little garden I'd be glad of the inspiration - Good luck.

  3. Ok, no poo spot shown in my book Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots, but I don't think my publisher (or some picky readers) would appreciate that much reality!!

    I love your site and think you should write a column for the British Country Living Magazine.

    My gardens in Roots were real and tested by my family and our two old dogs who have since passed on.

    My new book The Green Granny Gospels will try to make you happy by including a clothes line! Keep up your great family, earth, communication work. All blessings of the earth, Sharon Lovejoy

  4. Thank you all for your lovely comments.

    Melissa - I had to laugh, the plot is our allotment and alas our garden at home is not worth photographing in its entirety. One day, hopefully!

    Rhiannon - I keep racking my brains but that design escapes me. I've lived with this garden for so long I can't see it in a much-needed new light.

    Sharon - Wow! Thanks for the lovely comment! Perhaps dog piles would be too much, but washing lines.....I look forward to your new book.