'Ted' Boldero (and friend)

‘Ted’ Boldero (and friend) – my dad pictured in the 1950’s

I’m a dad. I love my children and thank them for their cards, gifts and good wishes on Father’s Day. Today, I’m also reminded that I am a son too. Though my own father died nearly 50 years ago, I think it’s to him that I owe my love of gardening.

My memories of him in our smallish terraced – house garden in London, are of a formal ‘summer bedding ‘ type of gardener and old photos confirm that he kept his patch neat and tidy if not overflowing with colour or variety. I don’t recall ‘helping’ him in the garden apart from trying to push an old manual ‘Qualcast’ mower (I have a picture of me just reaching the lower brace on the handle rather than the handles proper).

More memorable, and I think more significant in terms of its influence on my own gardening bug, was his role at the local Green Bowls club, West Essex in Leyton. He was not only a good player (he represented Essex County), but was also the voluntary green warden – basically the guy in charge of the grass and all the other bits and pieces of green areas. And there were rather a lot of these, I recall, overflowing with Dahlias and summer perennials like Phlox, Marguerite Daisies, Stocks, Hellenium and Rudbeckia.

I definitely do remember helping my dad in this, larger scale, ‘garden’. Not only did this include using a petrol motor mower (“elf ‘n’ safety” would have kittens if a ten year old did this today) and using edging shears to get a neat cut to the bowls square, but rolling it, scarifying, aerating and top-dressing too.  I guess this is why I still find a good lawn (ideally with stripes) so attractive – even though in my heart of hearts I know that lawns can be environmentally unsound. And there was lots of hedge cutting (mainly Privet) with shears and planting up rows of annual flowers.

So, on Fathers’ Day, its nice to reflect on what my dad meant to me all those years ago – guidance, knowledge, encouragement and praise that shaped me as a gardener (as well as in other important ways) so many years down the track.

Thanks Dad!

Old School Gardener

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