Grower Spaces: Sandra, Gloucestershire

Grower Spaces is a series of articles about people and their gardens. Their connections to and love of their grower space. I ask questions, people give answers and we illustrate it with photographs. There’s been a smashing response from people signing up to be featured and I’ve got a real variety to feature over the next few months. If you would like to be featured, drop me a line: annie@mammasaurus.co.uk. 

The first Grower Spaces is with Sandra, my mother (photos by me).

The front path
The front path

What’s your name and where do you live?
Sandra or ‘GrannySan’,  Gloucestershire.

How long have you lived where you do presently?
16 .5 years

Was the garden space a consideration when choosing your home?
Not really, but I wanted a decent sized garden.

Describe your garden to us.
I’ve got a corner plot , so have three sides of the house down to garden/patio’s /driveway. Being on a corner it does tend to be a bit windy at times , so, some thought has to be taken into account when selecting plants and their positions .

looking over to the summerhouse
looking over to the summerhouse

Which part of your garden is your favourite space and why?
My favourite space , at present, is the area around the Summerhouse. I’d been looking for a Summerhouse for a couple of years to erect in memory of my late mum who died in 2011 of Alzheimer’s . I’m a ‘know it when I see it’ person and go for my ‘gut feelings’.
A friend told me about a small summerhouse she’d seen at a reclamation yard opposite where she lives so I shot down to see it! It was ‘ok’, but nothing special, then I turned around and how on earth I’d missed it when I first got there … there it was ! That was the one! No hesitation, it was ‘the one’! It needed a substantial base  and the old slate roof was in good condition. The wooden sides needed a bit of work but that was my ‘project’. Perfect. 

summerhouse, Summer 2015
summerhouse, Summer 2015
vintage displays in the summerhouse
vintage displays in the summerhouse
5 mph sign table top
5 mph sign table top
the garden, summer 2014
the garden, summer 2014
summerhouse, spring 2015
summerhouse, spring 2015

I contacted a local builder, husband of a friend, and we made plans. I wanted old blue engineering bricks on a raised base and reclaimed quarry tiles for the floor. Fast forward a year  and the construction was complete. I could do the filling and painting of the woodwork  in my own time.  It needed guttering and a water butt to collect the large amount of rainwater which was coming off the roof. I found a supplier of old oak Whisky barrels and got a cracking 500 litre one. I had an old brass barrel tap which I’d got from a car boot sale and that did the trick. There needed to be paving around itto be more practical for me , as I’m prone to falling over!  So, last year that was done, and it follows the shape of the summerhouse, which is six sided.

How much time do you spend in your garden each week?
As much as possible depending on the weather really  and what other projects I’m doing at the time !   I’ve been known to go out at 8 in the morning and still be out there at 4 pm.  

Where do you store your gardening equipment?
I store my garden equipment in various places mostly under lock and key , but some around the garden itself .

tin bath tubs
tin bath tubs
terracotta pots
terracotta pots

What’s you favourite item of equipment in your garden and why.
I’ve not got a specific favourite piece of garden equipment , I’ve got quite a few, if only they could talk !  What stories they could tell .  I’m on the lookout for old gardening books too, anything ”interesting” ! My garden is in no way ”formal”, it changes and adapts as and when I get something new or when I need to find room for a latest purchase !   

beehive
beehive
vintage road lamp (from a time when there were no 'cones' or street lights in many places)
vintage road lamp (from a time when there were no ‘cones’ or street lights in many places)

Where do you generally buy seeds, plants and equipment?
I love restoring old items which I pick up at local Car boot sales and Flea markets . You never know what you’ll find !  It’s great fun . I’ve bought most of what I have over the years at Car boot sales .  I’m keen on recycling and reusing old objects . For one thing , it’s much cheaper , but, you can gain a lot of knowledge and inspiration from sifting through what other people refer to as junk , and you can meet some very interesting people .   Nearly all of my plants have come from the same source , as have the terracotta pots I’ve found recently .  Ive got quite a lot of unusual tools which I’m in the process of cleaning and restoring…and using !    

Sandra explaining how she's recently learnt to mend old terracotta pots using copper wire or tie wraps
Sandra explaining how she’s recently learnt to mend old terracotta pots using copper wire or tie wraps
Bread bin- free from car boot sale (due to damaged lip round base)
Bread bin- free from car boot sale (due to damaged lip round base)
Broken chamber pot 
Broken chamber pot 
vintage pump sprayer, one of many collected
vintage pump sprayer, one of many collected
Chimney pot top
Chimney pot top
These handy clips were bought in a pack for £1 at Wilkinson
These handy clips were bought in a pack for £1 at Wilkinson

Have you any plans for your garden for the next few years?
I’m hoping to finish the work around the Summer house by altering the flower beds and having a new, smaller lawn which will be easier for me to manage. I’m toying with the idea of having a low Box hedge between the patio and lawn  or maybe a Lavender hedge. I’m also at the moment starting to create an Auricula theatre by the Summerhouse, benath it’s overhanging roof (thanks to Gemma Garner for the idea!)

Auricula theatre beginnings
Auricula theatre beginnings
AURICULA THEATRE BEGINNINGS
AURICULA THEATRE BEGINNINGS

How would you describe your style of gardening?
Style of gardening?  Random?  I used to grow a lot of vegetables, but, living alone and getting older I’ve resorted to making it more practical and manageable so have been planting mostly flowers …yes, from car boots !!   It’s nice to get old galvanised wash tubs, buckets and old stone sinks and to use them as planters. I’m not keen on anything formal or immaculate – if there’s a space it needs filling !

What memories do you have of the garden as a child?
My main one is when I was at junior school. We had school allotments near by and we’d go there on nice summer’s afternoons. But, the boys were the only ones allowed to garden, the girls had to sit and do needlework!  That was so frustrating. I was going to go into Horticulture on leaving school, but there wasn’t the placements in those days, so, maybe I’m just catching up on something I wasn’t able to do in my earlier years.

vintage cloche tops
vintage cloche tops

Where do you draw garden inspiration from?
I like being ‘different‘ and imaginative and don’t like throwing things away, so I try to look at an object, however quirky and try to visualise it in a different form.  I’m not keen on modern items, especially reproductions. It’s more fun spending time with a friend getting up early and hunting under tables etc at my beloved car boot sales, of which there are a couple of excellent ones locally and it’s an excellent form of exercise into the bargain .

large confit pot, bought for £5
large confit pot, bought for £5

Thanks to Sandra for taking time to answer those questions – and I hope that you found the answers as interesting as I have!

0 replies on “ Grower Spaces: Sandra, Gloucestershire ”
  1. Love the summerhouse too. I often look at your pictures of Granny San’s garden when you share them, and imagine that it must be lovely to sit there with a cup of tea for a while. Her house trinkets sound fascinating too!

  2. What an absolutely incredible space. Such a shame girls weren’t allowed to go into horticulture back then, you clearly have an amazing talent for it – a calling!

  3. One of my favourite gardens, your mum’s is, I love all the vintage pieces and the clever planting. That summerhouse is out of this world.

  4. What a beautiful space. I love that it really shows character and isn’t just trimmed grass and some bushes. I love all the personal little touches and that summer house is simply stunning. I could imagine sitting there for hours writing away…

  5. Beautiful garden! beautiful pictures! and you know what? I bet that in about 20 years you will be exactly the same 🙂

  6. Such an amazing garden, interview and pictures! I dream of having a garden like this, I’m going to have a good look through to pick out any tips and flowers that I like. I especially love the mended pots, that is so simple, but I never would have thought of it. Gorgeous.

  7. That summer house is just beautiful…. You really do have the most green-fingered family Annie! 🙂

  8. What a beautiful garden, my own mother died last year, she too had Alzheimer’s and loved to garden. I’m hoping to do my own ‘thing’ for her in my garden…not sure yet what it will be, but I’m sure the inspiration will strike when I least expect it. Susan, you’ve done your mum proud! 🙂 xxx

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