Meet the Gardener: Deanna @mylittlegardeninessex
The lovely Deanna is one of my favourite Instagram accounts, sharing her love of growing veg and flowers, love of chickens and, of course, Gladitator! Deanna started her allotment journey in June 2020 and is studying RHS Horticulture too. I love Deanna's posts about how she is making her plot and garden wildlife friendly, if you don't follow her already then what are you waiting for? @mylittlegardeninessex
Tell us a bit about you and when you started gardening and why?
Hello, I am Deanna, 27 years young and live in sunny Essex. I started gardening around 2 years ago now as a complete amateur.
I believe my love of plants, flowers and growing my own stemmed from collecting houseplants, which were my first green love.
We bought our first home a few years ago now with a lovely little garden space. I must have always had a love for gardening because as soon as we moved in all I could think about was the garden and how I was going to make it into a haven for myself and the wildlife. I wanted to create a space to enjoy relaxing in throughout the summer, but it became more than that, my passion grew stronger and I noticed how much it was helping minimise my generalised anxiety; so naturally I spent more and more time in the garden, nurturing it and myself.
Over the last 2 years I have gradually been developing it into a space where I can go and find complete calm and comfort. It’s also shared with my lovely hens Summer and Daisy and Gladiator my bearded dragon who spends all of his summer days soaking up the glorious sunshine.
What’s the most ambitious gardening project you have completed or planned?
I would say my nan's garden, which I am currently in the process of planning for and have some wonderful changes planned for the year ahead. It’s a good size garden with a square lawn and borders all around which are currently full of weeds. With the knowledge and experience I have gained over the past 2 years from developing my own garden, and recently with studying an RHS qualification, I am hoping to put all I have learnt into creating a beautiful space that is eco-friendly, great for the pollinators, easy maintenance, and most importantly, a peaceful place my nan can sit and enjoy throughout Spring and Summer, and even into those colder months with the addition of a summerhouse.
What is your favourite thing to grow?
Veg, veg and more veg!
As much as I love sowing flower seeds, tending to their every need and waiting for that glorious moment to see them bloom and stand in all their beauty you cannot beat growing your own food.
We were lucky enough to be offered an allotment in June 2020. It was so lovely having somewhere else to visit during such a tough year, to have another outlet to think about, and keep us busy was certainly a blessing. We got sowing straight away and managed to have a few bountiful harvests over the late summer months. The first thing we harvested was Dwarf green beans grown from seeds that my mum bought me, the joy it bought us seeing them grow and ripen, and then the excitement of picking them to take home for dinner was honestly the most wonderful, satisfying feeling. Of course, eating them for dinner later that evening was most delightful. However, it is more than just the pride of growing your own and the deliciousness, it is the thought of zero air miles, sustainable living, and organic produce that made it all feel so fantastic. I highly recommend having a go at growing your own for your own pleasure and to help the planet.
You can even grow plenty of produce on a sunny windowsill if you do not have a lot of garden space!
Anything new you would like to try in the next growing season?
Dahlias! I only discovered them this year, no idea how I have missed out on such beauties. I am hoping to have a cut flower patch down the allotment consisting mostly of Dahlias and cosmos. It will be lovely to have fresh bouquet of flowers to gift to dear family and friends.
Where is your favourite garden in the world and why?
It may seem biased but the answer is easy, my own back garden. It’s a place that has had so much love and care put into it by myself and I feel you can sense that when you step out the back door. It’s a place where I can completely relax, share with my lovely animals and most importantly it helps my mental health.
What do you wish you’d known earlier about gardening?
Firstly, I wish I developed a love for gardening earlier, but I am certainly making up for all the years without it now by spending every moment I can outside, or inside, planning the gardening year ahead.
One thing I would say is always plan. I was an impatient gardener at first and wanted colour 'now'. Every time I visited the garden centre in the first 6 months, I just bought what I loved the look of, and what was in flower. This approach led to a very pretty, but short display, however in the long run I realised the garden looked a mess, there was no structure, it looked small, mismatch and I just did not love it. This past year I have spent more time planning my garden for this year including plants I love, but also ones that I know will thrive in my clay soil, I have also ensured it has got a harmonious flow to create a sense of calm.
What advice would you give to someone new to gardening?
Following on from my previous answer, planning is key. Work out what soil you have, where the sunny and shady spots are, what will do well where, and be sure to also incorporate what you love as if you don’t the space will not give you that wonderful feeling you are after.
Also experiment, that is one of my favourite things about gardening, you can trial anything you wish, you can always start again if something goes wrong the first time. Every year is a new beginning for you to have a go, and you will find your niche and realise what you love and what does not do it for you over time. I am currently experimenting with growing some blue Himalayan poppies, no idea if they will reach bloom as I do not have the perfect temperament for them, but I’ll sure give them a good go as I fell in love with them when I saw a photo on the internet.
When not gardening what do you like doing?
As I mentioned previously, I have hens and a lizard which keep me busy, they are like my children.
I love yoga and baking cakes and of course eating them. Myself and my partner love to travel, our favourite place we have visited so far is Italy. We love a walk along the beach and one of our favourite things to do is host parties... fingers crossed for lots this summer.
Thank you for reading. I wish you every success in your gardening journey, it will bring you all the emotions, but most importantly it will make you happy. Gardening is so good for both your physical and mental health.