Getting ready to wrap the bananas (Musa basjoo) last November

Getting ready to wrap the bananas (Musa basjoo) last November, with my head groundsman.

As soon as we moved to a house that had more than three square feet of garden space the kids loved getting involved. We’re fortunate now to have a decent sized outdoor space in which to dig and grow stuff. Like all parents, I think it’s pretty important to help kids experience the excitement of seeing plants grow seemingly overnight with nothing other than some water and sunlight.

Just dig outside in the rain for long enough and the kids will eventually join you... 

Neither of my parents were particular garden lovers, although we did have loads of space growing up in the country so it was always there to be explored and played in, it just took me a few years later in life to find it again after a couple of decades ‘out’.  

A mutual friend introduced me to the late Will Giles, (See my featured images here) who I became quite close to over the years. Will lived around the corner from me, and I gradually spent more and more time there learning everything I could, and also taking care of and cuttings and seeds he might let me have.  He was one of the original exotic plant enthusiasts here in the UK, and if it not for him there would not be anywhere near the exotic and tropical plant enthusiasm we have right now. An eccentric and entertaining guy, I eventually worked with him on a number of personal projects like photography, film and business ventures and ended up working from his studio almost every day for a couple of years (he was formerly a botanic illustrator).

My portrait of Will Giles

Over the next decade he taught me everything I know about exotics, and seeded much enthusiasm and interest which has never left me. He instilled that plants are just for pure pleasure and interest, just grow what you like for whatever reason and see how it fares. No problem if you kill it, just try and work out why and try it again. 

I’ve never lost the need to be surrounded by massive jungle paddle shaped foliage in the garden, and the root hardy banana Musa basjoo is a backbone of my garden now. Maybe moving to the tropics would be the long goal right?!

I’m only in summer #3 in our house, so still early days here. I’m building the garden up on a shoestring as we don’t have much spare cash to indulge in much plant buying, so Facebook tropical plant enthusiast groups have been my saviour, and old contacts. 

Hopefully one day the whole garden will be a dense jungle!