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My Gardening Journey by Luke

We asked Luke to share with us his gardening experience and journey, and why dhalia's are such an important plant to him. This is what Luke had to say...

Tell us a little about yourself and of course…why Pink?

Hi my name is Luke and I run a little Instagram blog over @man_about_gardening I live in Shropshire, West Midlands. With my wife of 10 years this year and two children. I am a avid gardener and managed to land a dream job at a Garden Centre last year! Basically every day of my life is now surrounded by flowers and plants (feeling like I truly am living my best life right now).

We have four cats (Belle, Bea, Blossom & Bonnie) and one bunny (Blue) as you probably have guessed we have a tradition that every pet we get their name has to begin with the letter B think of the Kardashians of the animal world.

Why PINK? When we first moved into our now home 6 years ago this year, we originally had a pink and white border (the garden path border) and we then dug in the back border which become the HOT border full of reds, yellows & oranges! But after having that border for about one year something just didn’t feel right, I read that if you have a smallish garden and you plant red at the far end it makes your garden seem smaller as your eye is drawn to red straight away, so we moved all the reds, yellows and oranges to the Jungle pot border and overflowed the garden path border into the back border and that’s when the penny dropped and I became obsessed with having everything Pink, plus it’s a super joyful colour and makes me smile every time I get home from work and everything is in bloom.

Real men wear pink…. Or at least they do on Wednesdays!

What was your introduction into gardening?

On growing up in the family home my family weren’t huge gardeners and the garden was just a patch of lawn and a patio set. But then I met my wife and upon visiting her family home I was introduced to a garden full of jewels blooming in the sunlight, I was blown away but being a teenage boy I was distracted by partying and computer games. I can always remember visiting my wife’s grandparents house in Kent and their garden was absolutely gorgeous and something clicked within me and I told myself I want this when I get my own house!

When we moved into our first home the garden was a mere courtyard but we did a few pots of strawberries and lilies and the bug started to get hold of me. After we got married and found out the news that we was expecting we upped and left our first house and moved into a bigger space that came with an even bigger garden, this garden was separated into three sections and came with borders and lilac trees everywhere. It was here that the gardening bug fully took hold of me and the rest is history.

What do you enjoy about gardening?

I love the designing aspect and what will look good where and also trying to find little gaps that I can fill, with a smallish garden it’s a constant juggling act! Edging a lawn oh I could do that for hours, something so simple and miniature can make a huge impact and really does set off the garden once its done. Watering in the height of summer, is there anything better than waking up in the morning throwing on some shorts and a t shirt and heading straight into the garden with a hose pipe in hand to give your flower babies a good drink, I can loose myself in that for hours, watching the bee’s buzz around collecting all the nectar goodness and the birds having a morning chat in the tree’s HEAVEN!

My least favourite job has to be garden fence painting, oh this job makes me so angry! Don’t get me wrong once it is done the garden looks fantastic and when the plants get taller and start blooming the background really helps them shine. But in the moment I throw all my toys out of the pram and strop around!

Tell us about your gardening experiences?

My gardening experiences so far have been very positive with my garden being north facing and having a back wall, I was rather sceptical when we moved in as everyone always says on every gardening show out there South facing this and South facing that. When we got started on the garden I said to myself just plant things in and see how they fair, if they struggle move them around, if they thrive WINNER! and lo and behold its paid off and all the plants seem to be living a good life at the moment, fingers crossed it stays like that! Ha.

I think when you start gardening or have been gardening for years there are always challenges that arise every year and they seem to be getting worse, the weather for example heat waves are going to be a regular occurrence which in turns leads to water shortages and drought. This can become a huge challenge in the garden for me as I tend to plant and grow plants that like to be thirsty, but with every challenge there is always a solution out there like applying thick layers of mulch to help with evaporation and collecting rain water and also when watering to water at the correct times to save on water loss.

How did you get into Dahlias and what makes them so special to you?

I can remember it was a daddy and son day when my little one was about 10 months old and we took a walk up to B & Q to pass some time, upon walking around their garden centre bit outside, we walked past this biggest flower I have ever seen in the most stunning of pale pink. I can remember it stopped me in my tracks and I just had to have it in the garden! £18.00 later and struggling one hand on a pushchair and a 7 litre pot under the other arm, we arrived home and the love story with Dahlias began! (I now know I got ripped off for £18.00!!)

What are your top 5 tips for growing Dahlias?

Well, Dahlias are the divas of the flower world, they demand attention and can be a little bit high maintenance! But in my eyes they are totally worth it, here are my top 5 tips for growing these absolute beauties.

  1. Show them some love, Dahlias love to be pampered, make sure to give them lots of TLC. Sing to them, tell them jokes, maybe even give them a little massage (okay, maybe not the massage part! But you get the idea ha)

  2. Don’t skimp on the feed – Dahlias are like us men when we were teenagers, we had to eat a lot to grow big and strong! Feed them heavy in the growing and blooming period each week.

  3. Give them space – Dahlias love to spread out so don’t plant them extremely close together. However, when working in a smaller space you can plant them a little closer than you think but make sure you give them some breathing space.

  4. Protection – Dahlias are little sensitive souls, so we need to make sure we protect them from strong winds and rainfalls by staking them, the last thing you want is to come out one day and the whole plant snapped in half.

  5. Embrace them – Dahlias love to be the centre of attention, so let them shine. Put them in a prominent spot in your garden or cut the flowering stems and display them in your home to show off to all your friends. After all, they are the Beyonce of the flower world, so let them work it!

What impact or benefits do you think gardening has had on your life & why do you feel gardening is important?

Gardening has had a huge benefit on my quality of life and mental health, even five minutes in the garden a day seems to boost my mood substantially! Gardening is the perfect hobby for those who like to get their hands dirty, but also want to be in touch with nature. Not only does gardening give you a great excuse to get out there with a trowel in hand and soak up that needed Vitamin D (make sure to wear suncream) and of course the famous gardeners tan! If you know you know. I feel like gardening is important not only for our own health and happiness but to also feed the insects and birds out there also, without those precious pollinators the world would suffer greatly!

What are your future plans for your garden?

In the words of every gardener out there a garden is never finished! And that applies to me, this year 2023 will see a huge difference to the front garden I can’t wait to get my hands stuck into that one! Also the back garden will have a little change up with new focal plants to be planted into the borders but one thing that won’t change is the colour PINK that’s here to stay and will forever more.

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