Meet the Gardener: Amy @chicksandveg

The lovely Amy from @chicksandveg is more than just someone I have met whilst starting gardening, we were friends long before then, and I can truly say Amy is one of the funniest, kind-hearted and caring friends I have. We ran the London marathon together, have eaten countless pieces of cake and I'm so looking forward to her wedding in 2021! I hope you enjoy learning more about Amy's garden and plans. If you don't follow her on Instagram then do... @chicksandveg

Tell us a bit about you and when you started gardening, and why?

When we purchased our first home it was a new build and the garden was a clay-filled, muddy bog (sound familiar Lizzie!?) . We actually ended up getting the builder to install drainage pipes underground it was that suitable for hippos! Once things eventually dried out we made some raised beds and, one expensive trip to the garden centre later, filled them with shrubs and blooms. Looking back, seeing these beds of colour was probably that first spark which got me enjoying my garden. There was no planning or thought to the planting, I bought what I liked, but it made me smile. Vegetable growing wasn't on the radar until we moved into a new country cottage a few years later. My partners job saw us up sticks and move to West Norfolk. Our cottage had a garden probably 20 times as big as our previous and honestly, we didn't know where to start. The garden was full of rubbish and old battered sheds so stripping it back felt like the best option. Behind all of the mess, the garden was actually already made up of sections and so we made each of these into a different area with my favourite being nestled at the end behind a fence draped in clematis - my vegetable plot. It was an area covered in gravel and another wobbly shed. It was such an uninviting space, but it was a perfect blank canvas and it was my little space to do with what I wished. Once I’d moved some chickens in, it very quickly became my little haven. Beds were built out of old scaffolding boards and I was truly lucky to be given a greenhouse from a friend who wanted an upgrade. The space started to take shape and before I knew it, green things were growing. 

Before finding my love of gardening, I’ve never had a long term hobby. I’m not afraid to try new things but I drop stuff very quickly if I don't get that buzz, don't get that excitement. 

What I love about gardening is that you can do as much or as little as you like and it all counts as progress and all delivers that little buzz. Sow some seeds, rake something over, water the plants, every part of it fills me with joy. 

Which gardeners inspire you and why?

I’m always inspired by people who share their knowledge. Its such a gift to find people who love what they do so much, to want to share that with others - Zoe from Swan Cottage flowers is a fountain of knowledge and I know I'm not the only one grateful for her wisdom when it comes to filling our gardens with beautiful blooms.

I also love seeing gardeners repurpose and recycle and do so much in such small spaces. Anyone who’s making the most of what they have and using every item they can in their recycling box to start off some seeds, I salute you. 

What’s the most ambitious gardening project you’ve completed or have planned?

I’ve talked about this a lot and now the fear of actually doing it is real… Next year I'm hoping to grow as many flowers for my wedding as I can. I’ve expanded the vegetable patch to include a flower border, brought more dahlias than I knew existed a year ago and have a whole seed box for flowers. Send help! 

What is your favourite thing to grow?

Honestly, it changes all the time but if I had to pick the thing that brought me the most joy this year it would have to be my Luffa sponges. This year I successfully grew my own Luffa gourds as I've had as much fun growing them as I have telling people about them, turning them into soaps and sharing their seeds! 

Anything new you want to try in the next growing season?

Next year I'm going to try growing in quadrants as opposed to rows. I feel like this will help me not to grow excessive amounts of single varieties, add more interest and colour to the beds as well as allowing me to mix vegetables and flowers in the beds. 

Where is your favourite garden in the world, and why?

This is a really tough one… I’ve visited many wonderful gardens. My favourites are any with different areas and hidden paths (think secret garden) and of course, any with walled kitchen gardens - the dream! 

What do you wish you’d known earlier about gardening?

Label everything twice and write varieties sown in a note book. Keeping a record of successes and failures pays off when it comes to making the most of your time and space.  

What advice would you give someone new to gardening?

It’s something we’ve all heard but grow what you love. When it comes to food and flowers, if you’re not going to enjoy them then its wasted time, space and energy. Grow for you. 

Also, talk about gardening. You’ll be amazed how many friends and family have knowledge and if you’re lucky, seeds to share! 

When not gardening, what do you like doing?

Drinking wine in a pub, by the fire, after a long walk. Heaven.

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