Christine's Garden Episode 5

Christine's Garden Episode 5

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.



The birds are singing and Christine is in her kitchen watching the birds through a pair of binoculars on the bird feeder.

She loves Blue Tits and she says people are in such a rush they do not appreciate Mother Nature  and all she does.


Christine is a professional Horticulturist and is often hired to lead tours and at the end of the week she is off to Northern China for 2 weeks.

Although she has been to China before she never been to these parts and she is busy researching for the trip.


They are visiting Beijing Botanical Gardens which are 5 hundred Hectares and contain thousands of different plants which she knows nothing about.

It is both sightseeing and gardening and it is quite a big party to keep them all organised and together.

The payment for these trips is not good but she does it as she enjoys sharing her knowledge and showing people around gardens.

The doorbell rings and Tara bounds down the stairs as its Reg and Louise at the door who are going to be watering the garden when she is away.


Christine opens the front door and straight away Reg tells her she got a dead blackbird in the front garden.

She picks it up by its wing and thinks it maybe flew into the window and heads off to the compost bin with it!

Christine has thousands of plants that need watering by Reg and Louise and she giving them very strict instructions for them.

Reg and Louise

There are 250 plants in the house too as well as the veg patch and pots .

She says she is giving them guidance but starts by telling poor Reg off for drowning a plant last time he was looking after them!

With Reg being deaf its a case of him mishearing every instruction and having Christine yelling it does or does not need watering several times.

Louise steps in and says lets water everything but Christine quickly pipes up that she doesn't want things swimming in water.


Reg is chuckling away as Christine waves her finger at them and tells them to stick that in the pot!

Reg thought it was once a day but he is correct to thank goodness once a week as it takes 2 and a half hours to do it properly.

Louise looks even more nervous but Reg says he will do outside if she does the house plants.


Christine does want them round every day checking the containers and house plants as well as her precious veg patch.

Reg decides they have got a lot to do and Louise says it's like looking after a baby, 'who's having a baby' asked a confused Reg.

They all collapse in fits of laughter at good old Reg and he always fun to have around.

The plant lectures continues and she wants her Rhododendron to bloom again and it will need a good watering Reg says its bloomed once and Christine corrects him that it will bloom again.

Christine Reg and Louise

She tells Reg she will blame him and they all laugh when he said he is good at looking after them.

Christine asks 'Have you got one of them'? and Reg replies 'I did have, but it's died'. 

She says they will do their best and without them she would not be able to go away.

The afternoon is so lovely she is off to see one of her ex mature students who was on her course 4 years ago, John Dewar.

Christine and John

He is a retired Manager for Ford's at Dagenham and now spends him time on the allotment growing vegetables.

They walk to the allotment pushing a barrow of tools and because Christine used to have an allotment she looking forward to looking round.

Christine is off eating her way around already and asks if the shed is a toilet, he says no and she admits to having a bucket toilet in her shed.


John passion for growing vegetables also started when he was a kid but his family used to be exhibition growers so he now follows the tradition.

He is measuring his courgettes and needs 3 of identical sizes and look and he has become obsessed with growing for shows.

He does a lot to protect his vegetables including a bird scarer he made himself which is very noisy!

Christine and John

He has won lots of prizes but his pride and joy are his potatoes and he spends a lot of time caring for them.

She asks what are the criteria for show potatoes and John says they need to weight approximately 225g and be kidney shaped.

He is exhibiting on Saturday and has invited Christine along to his local show so now the time to have a look and dig up some Potatoes.


Christine is excited to see what the potatoes are like as John lifts the earth gently up.

He tells her not to pick them up as he needs a watering can and the first potato would have been a good one but the skin is scuffed.

the next is a funny shape but he finds a perfect one and now Christine wants to dig some up but John is worried.


He is slightly obsessed with his potatoes, as a lot of showers are, so Christine does get a go, but he talks her through every stage.

Disaster she speared one with the fork and it would have been a 'goodun' and at last the tense lifting of the potatoes is over!

Christine likes catching up with her students and some like John just do gardening as a hobby still whilst others make it their career.

She just loves her working life as a Horticulturist which is why she looking forward to her China trip.

Trips give her more opportunity to share her passion as well as learn new things herself.

Christine's Garden

Christine's Garden has plants in it that have memories and associations attached from all over the World.

It is like 'a zoo for plants'  as the plants are all grown together not like in the wild and she points out her Eucomis from South Africa  and her 3000 Cyclamen which grow on Turkish hillsides.

Her Gingko Biloba Tree takes her to China just by looking at it.

Christine really looking forward to her trip and seeing plants growing naturally together.

The Postman been and Christine rushes to get her mail and her plane tickets and garden passes have arrived for China.


Outside it is pouring with rain and Christine is pleased as it is just what the garden needs and it will give Reg and Louise a start with their watering.

This is also an ideal day to take some cuttings as it is cool and damp and she heads off into the garden to have a look.


She loves taking little cuttings and watching them grow into plants and this is how most of her plants have started life as cuttings.

In 2 years this small cutting will be a plant and none of them are bought all produced.

The plant needs to be firm and full of water and she places them straight in a plastic bag so there no chance of them drying out.

Christine even had an extra window put in her kitchen to give her more light for her plants to sit on the windowsill.


She is filling her pots with compost in the kitchen on her large work surface that was also put in for planting on!

The whole house is for plants and plant related stuff like her books and every windowsill is full of plants.

'Plantaholic or headcase' 

Back to the propagation of her cuttings and it is very easy to do but you need to be delicate with it.


She can get 3 to 4 plants off one you would pay £2 for a garden centre.

Christine cuts off the side shoots and puts the cuttings round the edge of the pot.

Since Christine discovered plants she not needed anything else except her dog Tara and she not sure she could have anyone in her life.

The idea is alright, but in practice it would have to be a very special man and she quite fussy about what sort of man.

Mr Right would also have to have green fingers.

Christine is off to the Summer Show to see John and his exhibits and a village show is a lot of fun too.

She arrived at the payment desk and buys a programme and entry for £3 and heads off inside and there are shows in most villages during the summer.


She is usually a Judge at the Shows but today she just a visitor and heads straight for the exhibition tent to see how John is doing getting his fruit and veg displays done.

There a lot of work involved getting your produce exhibition ready from flower arranging to laying out cakes.

Christine thinks she spotted John's Potatoes and he busy getting his Blackcurrants ready.

John's Potatoes

All the fruit and veg types have to be a certain shape, size and colour to be shown.

There are various tricks of the trade to get them looking there best as long as they look natural.

Some add a bit of Parsley to the plate to attract the eye of the Judge.

When it is time for Judging everyone leaves the tent to make sure they do not know what exhibit belongs to each person.

Christine takes this opportunity to head to the food stalls and get herself a big burger and to have a look around the plant stalls.

She picked a plant with plenty of side shoots so she can take more cuttings.


Now the judging is finished its nice to see who has won what and in the Jam section she meets a lady with a first for her Marmalade and a 3rd for her Gooseberry!

She goes in search of John who has a beer in hand as they head into the tent to see how he did.

Christine and John

He has a 1st which he is surprised at as he didn't think they were good enough and she thought he be more pleased but after all he is a perfectionist like a lot of show growers.

Christine had a lovely day, everyone's enjoyed themselves and she even bough some more plants as she heads home.

Today the day she goes to China in the evening and she doing some last minute packing and Tara is off to stay with her friend Elaine.

She will like it there and less for Reg and Louise to do as she left them all the watering to do.

Christine hauls her case into the car and heads off saying she will worry about the garden as she will be gone for 2 weeks and lots can go wrong in that time.


She hoping there will not be a heatwave but just in case she left them lots of written instructions.

This includes her 2 golden rules 'don't water in the heat of the sun' 'never water on the foliage' if they stick to these there will not be an problems.

Christine drives off leaving the garden to Reg and Louise.

Reg is busy watering in the full sun with the hose soaking all the foliage without a care in the world.


Now he got the watering can out and is busy soaking the rest he missed with the hose.

He is pleased that he watered quite a lot of it!

2 Weeks later

2 Weeks later

Christine is back from China and Radio Essex is blasting away with the weather forecast for a lovely 23 degree Celsius day ahead and Essex is having a heatwave.

She pulls into the driveway and drags her case out of the boot before seeing the piles of mail awaiting her, bills and junk mail.

Straight out into the garden and she can tell by the grass that it has been dry and she tries the soil to confirm this, yes very dry.


Lots of crispy leaves on her plants but also some buds so it is not dead and she picks up some bent over tomato plants.

Christine says again she worries about her garden and she straight away gobbling down some tomatoes.

She missed the flavour of them as she moves on to eating some string beans.


The garden had a few casualties but its not a complete disaster zone.

But it will have to wait as after travelling for 20 hours she needs to have a good sleep first.

The Postman comes and this time its lots of parcels coming through the door, Tara growls and an excited Christine runs to the door as it is her slides from China that have arrived.


She rips open a packet and straight away has a look at them out the kitchen door, very nice she says they are really good.

Time to put on her old gardening boots and she cannot wait to get back out in the garden and the first job is to mow the lawn.


It rained last night and it was a good down pour so that has refreshed the garden so all she has to do is put some nourishment into the soil.

Christine has always loved compost since she was a kid and she thinks it is magical.

She gets a nice big spade full of compost thats made up of kitchen waste, dead-headings, old plants, pruning bits , grass cuttings, peelings and old pot compost and she mulches it around her plants.


Christine takes a handful and declares it 'beautiful' and it shouldn't smell bad or you have got it wrong, it smells sweet and not at all nasty.

It smells natural and releases all the nutrients into the soil that makes her flowers grow.

She thinks she would like to be composted when she 'goes' no way does she want to be cremated she wants to rot down into compost!

As a thank you to Reg, Pat and Louise and boyfriend Colin she has invited them round for a Chinese takeaway for them looking after her garden.


After kisses all round they tuck into the food and even Reg gives chopsticks a go but he has no idea what he is eating.

She loves bringing the world to people who cant or do not want to travel so she also plans to give them a slideshow of her trip.


After plenty of food and drink they settle down on the sofa for the slides and talk to begin.


Christine is very enthusiastic with her talk but whether it was the food and drink but eyes start to droop as they relax and before long ,Louise has nodded off, as Christine carries on talking regardless way into the night.

All Photographs are copyright of

No comments:

Post a Comment