Christine's Garden Episode 3

Christine's Garden Episode 3

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.



Christine is out in the garden admiring the clouds and so nice is the temperature and it is making her want to fly.

She is enjoying the quiet and the coolness and is pulling up some carrots and trying them, they taste of proper carrots.


She not sure if they will end up grated in a salad or served with new potatoes and courgettes, possibly with meat but definitely with lashings of butter.

Christine feels at home in her garden especially growing vegetables which she has done since she was a child on her allotment, she loves growing them as well as eating them.

Her next job is to put some bricks under her squashes to raise them off the ground and away from the slugs as she likes having her Pumpkins throughout the winter.


She cooks them in the microwave with butter and cinnamon.

She takes her produce into the house as the quiet is disrupted by a plane on the first flight of the day from nearby Stanstead Airport.

The post has arrived and as a Horticulturist she gets asked to test products and the large parcel contains something for her to try out.


This includes some weird and wonderful things and this time it is something odd which is made from human hair!

It is hair left over from wig making and it smells horrible as well as leaving your hands covered in hair!

It is a mat to go at the bottom of pots to help contain the feed and she is going to purchase some pots and plants to trial them.

When you buy compost it is supposed to have enough fertiliser for 4 - 10 weeks depending on the product.

This gets washed out when you water but the mat she is testing is supposed to help stop the nutrients being washed away.

She is doubtful but will trial it against a pot not containing the mat to see if it works.

A trip to the Garden Centre is needed for new pots, compost and plants but first the doorbell goes, Tara barks away and it is Reg beaming on the doorstep.


Reg has brought her a homemade Plum pie as a thank you for her helping him with the tree.

Pat has made a huge deep pie and Christine has barely got it in the kitchen before she is digging into it.

Plum pie

It will taste even better as these are the plums she pruned and they are dripping with juice as an excited Christine tries the pie.

'Mmmmm oh god they're good' as she sits in the kitchen doorway to finish her slice of pie.

Her garden is special it connects her to the soil, the soil is the floor and the borders are like the walls. 

This is where she likes to be, it is her escape.


Every day  things are changing in the garden, the sounds, smells, birds, the light and colours and she loves  being part of it all.

Mother Nature doing all this but Christine is like a parent looking after it all.

Christine is off to Harlow Garden Centre for her compost, pots and plants but she like a kid in a sweet shop and loves Garden Centres.

Garden centre

She does have a problem with plastic though and she doesn't mean plastic pots, but credit card and overspending!

When she was younger she would grow flowers from seed and charge her teachers 10 shillings and tell them they were rare plants.

She checking the roots of a plant to see if it is over potted and would drown in too much compost wen she transplants it to the bigger pot.


This has a lot of root so will fill the new pot very quickly so thats alright to buy.

She bought compost 2 identical plants and pots and she has chosen Busy Lizzies.

Once she is home and unloaded her purchases Louise her neighbour next door but one pops round.

Louise and Christine

She works at the local pub but today she has popped round with some eggs.

Christine tells her about the funny grow mats she is trialling and gives one to Louise to guess what it is made of?

She guesses hair and then makes her smell them, yuck, she really knows how to treat her guests.

Busy Lizzies

She uses the mat in one pot and has the other pot without to compare the 2 plants as the mats claim they increase growth, improve hardiness, better leaf and flower colour.

She will compare them over the next few months and they should look very different to each other!

Horticulture is not just gardening it can involve maths, forensic science, engineering all things to do with life and that is why she loves it.


Christine is talking to Tara and telling her to be good whilst she pops up the road to see Reg her neighbour from next door but 2.

Reg is in the greenhouse and after swapping niceties he is trimming his Tomatoes which are his favourites.


He grows 'Big Boy' Tomatoes but they could be bigger and better and Christine nags him about removing the side shoots from his plants.

She is showing him using Reg's knife how to take them off nice and close to the plant but the knife is 'as blunt as a coot' 'I know' laughs Reg.


Reg says she earnt a cuppa and she tells him to put the useless knife away, more laughter as she says he needs to get some decent equipment.

There was no time for a cuppa as Christine is prepping for a lecture and is sorting her slides.

She had an unusual Summer with some very busy weeks and some quiet ones work wise.

Today she is very busy as she lecturing at the Horticultural College and in the evening giving a talk to a Gardening Club.

She arrives at Writtle College and they do great Gardening Courses and Christine came there as a student 20 odd years ago and now she one of the Lecturers!

Writtle College

She teaches there 4 times a week for the Royal Horticultural Courses and it is not all books and theory they also do practical lessons to learn skills.

Today its about Lawns and how to make them and they are trying to make a firm surface to which they can sow grass seed to produce a perfect level lawn.

grass seed

This is not easy when using grass seed so she has the whole class scuttling along firming the ground with their feet.

Her class is made up of passionate gardeners from all aspects of life, bank managers, teachers, single mums and they spend 4 years with her and they get really close, as well as having fun.

Line dancing

'Line dancing for idiots' she calls it before doing the Walkden test when she looks for a soft spot on the lawn prep area.

She didn't know she would end up teaching but she has always enjoyed talking which made her think she could teach and as soon as she tried it she loved it.

Passing on her knowledge to the next lot of gardeners.

Classes finished, she is now off to Brightlingsea on the Essex coast to give a talk and its just half an hour from the College.


The landscape of Essex is full of surprises including a coastline it is a very diverse and beautiful county and she enjoys living there.

She stopped to admire a field of ripe corn and the rhythm of the seed heads in the breeze.

The talk is not until the evening, so she can visit 2 members of the Club, George and Ann and she looks forward to seeing their garden.

Christine has brought them some plants as a gift and as Ann get the kettle on Christine spies their lovely garden.


They have a very large pond with a bridge over it and straight away she spots a Angel's Fishing Rod in flower and rushes to take a closer look.

So appropriate she says over the pond full marks she gives them for that plant.

Next some old fashion scented Roses are exactly how they should smell says Christine having a large bloom to her face!

Ann points out a Salvia that going to flower and Christine says do not roll in it because it smells of foxes? 

She gives it a rub and a sniff to prove the point before inflicting the smelly hand on them too.


Christine loves the flow of the garden before pointing out some grey slate which goes very nicely with the Hosta.

She suggests they move their Lamb's Ear to under the Bottle Brush and that will follow the colour of the slate through into the other bed.


Christine says gardens are not just plants its also people and experiences whether things grow well or you lose them,

She says she scared talking to their group tonight as people are so knowledgeable already as keen amateur gardeners.

Christine really enjoyed her visit to their garden.

Christine has spent so long that she not got long left to eat before the talk so she is off to the Chippie for Cod and chips at the waterfront.


The group tonight are all keen amateurs who enjoy the social side of the club too.

The seagulls are circling but she is munching into her chippie tea.

Christine is welcomed to Brightlingsea Gardening Club  and her talk tonight is 'There's not just one way to grow an Alpine'.

Christine talk

She tells them that an Alpine is a plant that grows between the Summer snowline and the tree line so its a rock garden environment.

We make messes of Rock Gardens in the UK and often ours are just rocks spewed over a mound of soil using stones left over from making a pond.

She tells them if they want no weeds use Tufa as you can plant into the rock.

The talk over and they give her a big round of applause.


Now they are all outside with a cuppa and a natter and Christine likes coming to Gardening Clubs and people bring along their garden bug and plant problems too.

Someone has brought Christine a Phygelius Beetle which she had not seen for a long time but they have them in Brightlingsea she calls them Slow Worms as they look like them.

It is still alive and wriggling on her finger she says if they bite you you get a headache.

If you have this beetle you need to cut off the affected bits and burn them.

Back home Christine's phone rings and its the Company wanting the results of her trial with the hair mats and she tells them there is no difference in the plants with or without the mat.


It was Tom she was talking to and he was disappointed there was no difference but he thinks we may see some later in the season, Christine doesn't think there will still be any difference.

Louise her Neighbour next door but one is having a Barbecue tonight and Christine is in charge of the salads.

So she off to see Reg to see if he has any produce to contribute?


Reg is in his favourite place his Greenhouse and he offers to show her his 'Big Boys' and he will have some for tonight.

He says they should be bigger but he does not know why as he been watering them and he can spare her 4 tomatoes.

As usual Christine has to tell him off for something and today it is leaving his rake where he could stand on it and give himself an injury!


Reg laughs as usual and says yes he has been hit in the 'mush' before and after moving his rake she is off and will see him later at the Barbecue.

Christine in her vegetable patch and she seems to be eating more Tomatoes then she is picking.


She does get competitive with Reg over their vegetables and she says her small tomatoes have much more flavour than Reg's 'Big Boys'.

Some of her Sweetcorn look ready so she will also take them to the Barbecue.


She busy in the kitchen slicing her Tomatoes ready to 'blow their taste buds away'.

Christine is making a Tomato and Onion Salad with Balsamic Vinegar.

Now its time to take her Salads round to Louise's who is next door but one to see what is cooking on the grill.


Reg has forgotten his 'Big Boys' and goes to get them, his wife Pat is also there and so is Louise's boyfriend Colin who doing the cooking.

Louise opens the bubbly and she borrowed some glasses from the Pub she works at she got Pink Champagne and Reg thought it was Pensioner's Champagne so all for them.

Christine keen to start the tasting competition after slicing into Reg's 'Big Boys' and Reg says his are lovely so he does not care what anyone else thinks.

Tomato salad

She forces a little one into his hand and he says hers are nice and makes them all try them.

Christine says you cant beat eating something you have grown and the quicker you eat it after picking the better.

Reg like her corn on the cobs but he didn't think he liked it before and Christine is chuffed with his compliment.


As darkness falls and the candles are lit, the air fills with laughter from the Neighbours as they discuss the produce 'it's the way that I grow them' chuckles Christine.

All Photographs are copyright of BBC.Com

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