Christine's Garden Episode 2

Christine's Garden Episode 2

In this episode of Christine's Garden we meet Christine Walkden  at her home in Harlow Essex, who introduces us to the programme by saying "I love gardening - I do not like it - I eat it, sleep it, drink it, dream it".

Christine has been a gardener for over 35 years and her life is fantastic and she never wants to do anything but gardening and horticulture.

She says she lucky to earn a living doing this.



It is raining and has been all night and Christine is very happy about it as the air is now feeling more fresh and cooler.

The plants are all looking better after a good water and back to normal and the smell of the soil when its wet is so different from when it is dry.

Tara is barking as usual and Christine tells us watering with tap water is not the same as Mother Nature's rain.


She is searching in the flower bed and she is ecstatic her Cobra Lilies that were sent to her from the States have come up and they are new to her garden. 

Even more of them are coming up and she is so pleased and excited to see the first leaf unfurling for its maiden appearance.

Cobra Lilies

Christine whizzes round the garden with her arms out like an aeroplane.

She happy a storm is coming with yet more rain.

Christine is upstairs in her home office preparing for a talk she is giving next week and is preparing her slides.


She says she spends hours putting a lecture together.

As a freelance Horticulturist it is not just about maintaining gardens and physical work, she lectures to students, as well as travelling the world giving tours and lectures.

Being self employed in Horticulture the work level goes up and down and this is her first Summer at home in 14 years since she started.


Some months are very good and some are very bad with the first few years being very scary as to how she would manage the bills and Mortgage.

People will pay a plumber £80 to come and just look at your washing machine but will not pay a Horticulturist £10 an hour to work.

She has 7 years of full-time education to get where she is which is the same time it takes to qualify as a Doctor.


You have to love the job to do it because of the lousy pay!

Christine off out with her brolly and she is off to the The Old Bell pub as her neighbour Louise works there.

She at a loss what to do with the garden and as she loves it she has asked Christine to help her.

Christine and Louise

Normally to advise someone I would charge but its a quiet time and she is a mate and also buys me pints in the pub so thats a kind of payment!

Louise says she does not like the garden how it is but has no idea what she wants.

She looks at the garden and its not right it needs more shrubs and more colour throughout the garden.

Louise will do the work to get a nice garden but lacks confidence about where to start.

Alfie her dog barks through the window as they arrive at the disorganised garden that Louise has made efforts to sort out.

Louise does enjoying growing things and already has some lovely Tomatoes that are just starting to ripen even though she not fed them and just left them to grow.


Christine is surprised how well they have done and Louise says she had 4 lovely Tomatoes so far, she would have had a lot more adds Christine 'if you had fed them'!

She pops a whole one in and declares they are lovely to a shocked Louise as she thought she just take a bite not cram it all in.


Christine asks her what she does not like about the garden? She tells her she likes the Poppy that has just come up and her tree.

She says she seems to like light stuff like the fabrics she has used in her home and this personality is reflected in your garden! 'Very light, oh I am so glad you didn't say dense' says Louise as they both burst into laughter.


Christine says the garden gives her some great opportunities and as a Garden Designer she can give her 2 totally different plans for the garden.

The garden narrows and there is a little passage, the garden is kept formal to that point then behind that the garden softens.

Louise is pleased with that idea

Radio is on to BBC Essex and the weather forecast says 23 degrees Celsius and Christine is outside her house where she lived for 14 years and she loves living her with her lovely garden and neighbours Louise, Reg and Pat.

They share gardens as they are always in and out of each others gardens and Christine is in Reg's house shouting to him 'hello' as he is very deaf.

No sign of Reg so she pops his kettle on as he loves to have a cup of tea with Christine and the same with Louise except it is wine.

Reg and Christine

She finds Reg in the greenhouse but has no idea what he is doing! 

They walk up the garden with their cuppas and Christine spots his Courgettes and she picks some young ones to show Reg you can even eat them raw.

Reg and Christine

Reg is not impressed and thinks they are tasteless! Se suggests Garlic and Tomato sauce and Balsamic Vinegar.

Christine can easily eat her way around Reg's garden and she now at his Raspberries and they do not last long and suggests Pat makes a pie, probably before she eats them all!

Some are going yellow and she says they are Iron deficient because they got light sandy well drained soil and this is going to weaken the plant so needs sorting.


She going to give Reg some treatment and he says just keep eating the Raspberries and laughs away.

She now after his Macaroons.

Christine first job was at Clitheroe Parks Department looking after the Champion Bowls Green which needed mowing every day and the foreman would complain her lines were not straight.

So she would have to do it all again.

The mower she is using at the moment seems to be on fire as black smelly smoke comes out of the hover!


The mower about 5 years old but being a tight Northerner she checks to see if it is repairable and goes and gets her toolkit which is her kind of handbag!

She takes the top off and clears out a lot of 'gunk' and tries it again.

More smokes spews out as she quickly turns it off and declares it dead. Time for a new mower.

Christine is off in her car to the Essex Countryside to visit an old Student Stephen and his wife Liz, he was a mature student who she taught for over 2 years.

Christine Stephen and Liz

She is booked for a consultation on his problem areas in the garden, which helps her as work is quiet and she gets to catch up which is lovely.

Stephen is retired from his high flying job as a Managing Director of a drinks manufacturer but Christine had no idea when he came to her evening classes.

She greets him in his huge garden and says she start by having a look around and will point out any problems and either tell them or show them how to deal with it.

They have lived there for 7 years and they set off for a wander around the garden.

lovely vista

They have a lovely vista but Christine suggests it needs a focal point.

Christine points out the roots from a tree are too exposed and Stephen in trouble for not planting it deep enough so no wonder it is struggling.

Christine asks if they have Phytophera? They have no idea if they have that 'lurgy of the lurgies' in the garden as Christine calls it.

She has a look under the plant and the brown staining on the plant is bad news as Phytophera is a fungus that attacks plants and it looks like they have it.

She shows him how to cut out the infected bits which he will have to burn.


Next she in the vegetable garden and he has Mealy Aphids on his greens and it is a severe case but he has killed them off with 2 sprays of pesticide, he hopes!

She pulls out the infected Cauliflower and she going to use it as an example for her tomorrow night class!


She would have hoped after her teaching him he would have spotted these Aphids sooner before they got this bad!

She heads off home after a lovely time with Stephen and with her specimen and a tale to tell her class of not spotting your Aphids in time!

Christine says being freelance she does not earn a lot and never know when the next job will be but at the end of the day as long as you pay your bills and have enough to live on does it matter you are not rich?

A pension scheme be nice and money in bank for hard times if her hips need doing but you got to live for the moment as she could also not be here in 10 years nor need new hips!


Christine has a new expensive mower and she got it all set up ready to try it out, no smoke she hopes.

She says the English are obsessed with green striped lawns but she has no idea why her grass is for Tara to play on and her to have a lawn with weeds and all.

Christine sits on the bench admiring her garden, warts and all!


Trees are an important part of the garden and are good fillers of vertical spaces and bring colour and movement on a windy day.

She loves the view through the trees and the birds swooping in to feed and roost.

The Goldfinches have Scarlet on their back that pick us the purple of the tree.

Her doorbell rings and Tara barks and there is Louise at the door and they are going to spend the day together making a start on her garden transformation.

Christine and Louise

They go in the garden for some inspiration and for Christine to share some tips with her.

First tip you should never see all of the garden in one go as it then has no suspense or drama and Louise says the steps draw her eyes to the the top of the garden.

Next you do not need just flowers to create colour in the garden but you can also get it from foliage.

Christine and Louise

Christine gets Louise to rub a leaf and sniff and it smells like Vick that you put on your chest when you have a cold, but this is from a Geranium. 

If you add enough plants to your garden it acts as a weed suppressant, so it makes a living mulch which Louise thinks is ideal as she hates weeding.

red tree

They both admire the red tree and Louise wants one in her garden.

Christine says you need to decide what 'turns you on' in the garden.

They are off in the car to the Langthorns Plantery  to get her some trees to add character, privacy and height to Louise's garden.

Langthorns Plantery

They spot a Salix like Reg has got and Louise spots a flowering Cherry she likes.

She spots more she likes and Christine says its like a 'sweetie shop'.

Christine has also seen several things she would like and has her credit card at the ready.

She points out a tree that has lime green foliage in the Spring and it is only £20 and they pull it out into the aisle to have a good look at it.


They place the trees she has chosen on the path and space them out to see if they all go together.

Christine offers to pay half towards the trees as a pressie and that done the deal and they go to buy the trees.


So they have bought a Purple Plum, a Safora and a Euonymus for a total of £60 now to get them home in the car!

Luckily Christine an expert at this and she put the front seat down and slides them in the hatchback, bending them over to get the boot shut!


They are seat belted in and Louise squeezes next to them on the back seat and they are off home with todays bargains.

Back home and Louise pops round to Reg after some tights to see if Pat has a laddered pair they can have.

Reg chuckles and goes in to ask Pat and before long Reg turns up for a look to see what they are up to with the tights.

Louise holds tights against Reg

Louise holds them against Reg and they are not his size so they are not his!

Reg laughs and Christine explains they are for tying the new trees up with as they are the best thing to use he agrees.

Christine and Louise start digging the holes in the lovely soil and Reg is on hand holding up a tree and says he is warm doing it.


Reg says the tree says its fast growing and even growing as he is holding it followed by a Reg laugh.

Christine calls Louise over to show her the size of the hole she had dug and Reg pipes up you got the depth right and she dug it so wide to loosen the soil to make it easier for the roots.


Reg starts to sing as Louise brings buckets of water up and down the garden for the trees.

The dogs are racing round and Louise is backwards and forwards, Reg has helped with the placing of the trees and at last all the trees are finally planted.


Reg has decided he is no more help and goes and at that point Louise notices her bucket has a hole in it which sets Reg off singing 'there's a hole in my bucket dear Liza, dear Liza' as he wanders back to his garden.

The garden now has 3 lovely trees that she helped plant and be lovely for Louise to watch them take shape.

Louise and Christine

'A good days work' and Louise is already on the patio with a bottle of wine waiting for Christine to join her for a much needed drink.

Christine still with the trees she likes so much taking them in.

Finally she has finished tidying up and joins Louise on the patio to toast the new trees as they look back at them up the garden and laugh about the tights that they were sure were Reggie's after all.


'To our trees' 'cheers'.

All Photographs are copyright of

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