Meet the Gardener: Shannon @diaryofaladygardener
Shannon is everything I love about being a gardener- enthusiastic, gives everything a go, and also shares when things fail. I absolutely love her account, sharing her many wins of fruit, veg and flowers on her allotment. Go and give her a follow on instagram if you don't already @diaryofaladygardener
Tell us a bit about you and when did you started gardening, and why?
My name is Shannon, I'm 25, a Digital PR Manager and I live in a really beautiful area of England, Devon. You can find me on Instagram @diaryofaladygardener where I share my allotment journey!
I started allotmenting two years ago through no choice of my own... It's kind of a funny story. I'd joked on walks around our local area about how wonderful it would be to grow our own veggies and live a more wholesome life every time we walked passed the local allotments, a few times I probably did make it sound like it really was something I wanted, but to be perfectly honest I didn't think it was for me. For Christmas 2018 I was given a robo hoover and an allotment (what a gift combo!) and on the 27th December 2018 I got to go and pick my very own plot... To be perfectly honest, I was touched by the thought but it was never a dream of mine to grow vegetables, I'd failed to grow flowers and tomatoes at home and that was enough of a challenge so didn't have very high hopes. I threw myself in none-the-less and started an Instagram account to track my progress and here we are a full two years on and I can't imagine my life without my allotment!!
Which gardeners inspire you and why?
Oh there are so many amazing gardeners that I take inspo from. Instagram is such an incredible hub of incredible people, and despite the platform having a bad rep for people being mean, the garden/allotment community are some of the nicest people out there. A few accounts that I really LOVE include:
@mylittleallotment - one of the first people I ever spoke to on Instagram and she is just so lovely and does so many exciting things, from growing epic dahlias and Big Max pumpkins to designing gardens at flower shows!
@hayleys_lottie_haven - I'm bordering on being obsessed with Hayley and her incredible business (@backyarddesigns). This year she inspired me to try growing leeks for the first time, and I really recommend her DIY tutorials for allotment projects!
@swancottageflowers - Zoe basically holds your hand growing literally ALL the flowers and it's the perfect prompt throughout the year to see what you could be doing! Also, her flower displays are just another level of beautiful.
@mrsbeesgarden - her tomato and flower collections (amongst other incredible fruits and veggies) are absolute goals.
That's just a few of them, but my list could go on for days!
What’s the most ambitious gardening project you’ve completed or have planned?
I would say my sweet pea teepee from 2019 was the most ambitious. Mainly because I didn't have a clue what I was doing but winged it by weaving old compost bag strips to make a horseshoe shaped bed and then adding in canes and seeds and hoping for the best. It's probably my proudest achievement at the allotment because it just turned out so wonderfully well - shame the 2020 teepee failed but 2021 is the year for the biggest and best one yet - especially with the addition of some gorgeous sweet pea varieties from The Rose Press Garden!!
What is your favourite thing to grow?
Melons! I grew Sugar Baby watermelons for the first time in 2020 and despite only getting 4 fruits and not managing to harvest a single one of them at the right time, they were so much fun to watch grow. Plus, they are my actual favourite fruit of all time. I also really love growing sweet peas, cosmos and pumpkins.
Anything new you want to try in the next growing season?
I've got quite a lot of new things planned for 2021 including: Beans (I don't know why I've never grown them before!), lots more flowers, a peach tree, a new melon variety, lots of new chilli and tomato varieties and I'm considering adding a grape vine into the greenhouse too.
Where is your favourite garden in the world, and why?
I haven't actually visited that many gardens to be perfectly honest, we went to an amazing Japanese garden in New York but I can't think of the name... RHS Rosemoor is probably my favourite though, it's only a 40-minute drive from where I live and we visit all the time. It changes so much between seasons and there's still so much of it I haven't seen! My favourite parts are the Vegetable Garden (the melon squash arch this year was stunning) and the Victorian Cottage Garden.
What do you wish you’d known earlier about gardening?
How easy it is to grow incredible food and flowers!! I always assumed you needed a ridiculous amount of knowledge, time and space to grow anything, but actually it's super accessible, anyone could give it a go and have amazing success!
What advice would you give someone new to gardening?
Don't be afraid to fail. So many people say 'oh I could never grow something like that' but it's not like us allotmenteers have superpowers, it is really simple. But sometimes, things just do fail. 2020 on my allotment was a bit of a write off, nothing really grew particularly well but I have learnt so much from each one that I'm far more confident with certain crops because of it. There's always next season to try again - and the garden centres are well stocked if your seeds fail to germinate or your seedlings don't make it.
When not gardening, what do you like doing?
If I'm not at the allotment (or work) you'll usually find me on an adventure with the babies - my twin nephews - or baking! Last year my New Year's resolution was to bake something new every week, needless to say I failed that overly ambitious challenge, but I have baked loads of new things recently including a gingerbread greenhouse!